Seminário avançado de investigação – Projeto Alice

Indian Democracy in the Hall of Mirrors

Peter Ronald deSouza (Indian Institute of Advanced Study)

5 de dezembro de 2012, 17h00-19h00

Sala 1, CES-Coimbra

Comentários: Alice Cruz e Bruno Sena Martins


Any attempt to draw the big picture of Indian democracy must live with the question that perhaps it is too soon, in historical terms, to seek an overall verdict of “How is India doing?” What we are witnessing, in a Tocquevillan sense, is a social transformation on a large scale taking place because of democracy, one that is layered with each layer changing at different rates in different directions. Because of this methodological challenge the story of Indian democracy is often a story told of parts with each story having validity. There is a story of praise for the achievements of the last 65 years. India here is presented as an outlier for its remarkable achievements. There is a story of concern at the deficits and challenges that remain but ones which, in principle, can be addressed by Indian democracy. Here there is a sense of unfinished business which it is assumed, and hoped, right policy can address. There is a story of despair at the undemocratic trends that have emerged perhaps because, and in the name of, democracy. Here there is a sense of paradox, a lack of clarity at how to proceed in building democracy. What would ‘democratizing democracy’, as D.L.Sheth describes it, entail? Each story is valid and must be a part of the big picture. After a brief discussion of the first two stories the presentation will elaborate on the third story since there are lessons to be learnt, for the global debate on democracy, from the working of Indian democracy. Hence the hall of mirrors.

Nota biográfica

Peter Ronald DeSouza is currently the director of the Indian Institute of Advanced Study (IIAS). Prior to this he was Senior Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) where he was Co-Director of the Lokniti programme on Comparative Democracy.

Professor DeSouza taught political science at Goa University for 16 years and headed the department from 1996 to 2002. He also been one of the three principal investigators of a five nation study published by Oxford University Press on the State of Democracy in South Asia (2006). He was a member of the International Political Science Association's Research Committee on Political Philosophy and Political Sociology, and was a member of the University Grants Commission's expert panel on Political Science. He has been a visiting scholar in various universities, such as the Birkbeck College, London University, the Taubman Centre, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.

He has been a consultant to the World Bank on Rural Decentralization and on Dalits, Discrimination, and the Struggle for Equal Citizenship, to Ford Foundation on Local Government in India, to International IDEA in preparing their handbook on Democracy Assessment, to the Inter-Parliamentary Union in preparing their Handbook on Parliament in the twenty-first Century, to ICNRD-5 in their Democracy Assessment of Mongolia, and to UNDP in their study on Electoral Violence.

In addition to numerous articles he has edited several books, including India's Political Parties, (Sage, 2006) and Speaking of Gandhi’s Death (with Tripid Suhrud, Orient BlackSwan, 2010).