Long considered one of the great successes of the developing world, India has in recent years experienced growing challenges to political order and stability. Dominant social groups face growing demands of newly organized social groups, often leading to intense violence, and the once hegemonic Congress party has forfeited is commanding role, culminating in the defeat of Rajiv Gandhi in the recent national elections. Institutional mechanisms for the resolution of conflict have broken down, the civil and police services have become highly politicized, and the state bureaucracy appears incapable of implementing an effective plan for economic development. In this book, Atul Kohli analyzes political change in India from the late 1960s to the late 1980s. Based on research conducted at the local, state and national level, the author analyzes the changing patterns of authority in and between the center and periphery. He combines rich empirical investigation, extensive interviews and theoretical perspectives in developing a detailed explanation of the growing crisis of governance his research reveals. The book will be of interest to both specialists in Indian politics and to students of comparative politics more generally as an analysis of political patterns that evolve in democratic governments in developing countries. Atul Kohli is an Associate Professor at the Woodrow Wilson School of International Affairs, Princeton University. He is the author of The State and Poverty in India: The Politics of Reform (CUP, 1987).
'The implications of Kohli's insightful analysis of the political dilemmas of development in the world's largest democracy extend well beyond the borders of India. This book is essential reading for anyone trying to understand state-society relations in the Third World.' Peter Evans, University of California, Berkeley 'This book is a tour de force. Kohli's implicit argument is that the state in India cannot be understood simply by looking at the machinations in New Delhi. Rather, one must examine three different levels. The district, state and national stages are all important in understanding the overall place of the state in Indian society. The grave difficulty that the Indian state has encountered in trying to govern its heterogeneous society comes despite a great centralization of function and power over the last ... [few] decades. Kohli explains this paradox and shows why events at the local level have placed severe constraints on the ability of the state to govern Indian society. Democracy and Discontent will surely be among the most important books on the politics of India.' Joel Migdal, University of Washington, Seattle