Social Scientist. v 1, no. 3 (Oct 1972) p. 76.


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BOOK REVIEWS

RAJNI KOTHARI, POLITICS IN INDIA, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Orient Longmans Ltd, Delhi, pp 461 Paperback Rs 16

POLITICS in India studies the problem of power, according to Rajni Kothari a developed polity knows how to handle power whilst an underdeveloped polity does not. This is his criterion of modernisation. When this criterion is applied to India, Kothari suggests that to become modernised the Indian polity must develop a strong Centre and a power elite, if it is to remain apolitical.

The author first sets out his theoretical framework, or what is called , 'political sociology^ these days. The basis of this sociological approach is the theory of Systems analysis', as against class participation, 'an abstract model9 taken from cybernetics and then imposed on reality. The system can be visualised as an inverted triangle, the widest section, capabilities, being on top, followed by the inputs and outputs of the system, resting on 'maintenance' agencies. This structure rests on a question mark, and the social scientist is at liberty to fill in the fundamental assumptions of social life arbitrarily. Kothari's answer to the problem is the power elite, who then make the system self-consistent. Once the power elite is taken as given, then an investigation of the institutional structure to maintain such an elite logically follows.

To make his 'system9 indigenous, Kothari gives a rather transcendental account of the 'Hindu' tradition in Indian politics and by implication hopes to modernise the golden age of India through his power elite. He must be given credit for producing an ideological justification for the decaying Indian polity by working out a theory to replace the ad hoc approach that the Indian ruling class has followed for the past twentyfive years. Whatever the disagreements with his approach, he is one of the first to make a contribution in the rather barren field of politi-



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