The Evolution of Political Capacity in India: the Constraints of Social Inequality

  • A. H. Somjee


The evolution of political capacity in India has been the product of a number of factors. They are: the legacy of the Indian national movement; the legal and political institutions established by the founding fathers of the republic; and the assimilation of the principle of ‘one man, one vote’, and the realisation of its political significance to one’s social status and interests. The growth of such a capacity has also been influenced by attempts to learn how to exercise electoral power, to scrutinise public conduct and public policy, to exert political pressure to get one’s grievances redressed and interests served, to seek political accountability no matter how very irreverent and cantankerous it may sound, and, above all, to go in search of political alternatives whenever necessary. Together with these, the judiciary, by means of its bold and fearless defence of the rights of the individual, the press, by virtue of its courageous and persistent right to expose the misuse of public authority, and the army, by means of its self-imposed constraints, which have allowed civilian political differences and conflicts to be settled at their own level, have also contributed, directly or indirectly, to the growth of political capacity in India.


Political Participation Political Elite Political Authority Democratic Process Political Involvement 
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  1. 1.
    See A. H. Somjee, Democracy and Political Change in Village India, (New Delhi: Orient Longman, 1972).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    See in this connection F. G. Bailey, Politics and Social Change in Orissa,(London: Oxford University Press, 1963).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    See William Rowe, ‘The New Cauhans: A Caste Mobility Movement in Northern India’ in James Silverberg (ed.), Social Mobility in the Caste System in India, (The Hague: Mouton, 1968).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    See for the details of this process A. H. Somjee, ‘Caste and the Decline of Political Homogeneity’, American Political Science Review, LXVII, no. 3 (Sep 1973).Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    See in this connection Chanchal Sarkar, The Changing Press, (Bombay: Popular Prakashan, 1967) pp. 15–16.Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    V. R. Krishna Iyer, ‘Perspectives on Democracy’, Journal of Constitutional and Parliamentary Studies, X (1976) 24.Google Scholar
  7. 8.
    N. A. Palkhiwala, Our Constitution Defaced and Defiled, (Delhi: Macmillan, 1974) p. vii.Google Scholar

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© A. H. Somjee 1982

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  • A. H. Somjee

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