For a Kinder, Gentler Society
Democracy on Trial, All Rise!
  • Anuradha Kataria
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Democracy on Trial, All Rise! .
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The book challenges “Democracy” as the right political system in the developing world with a view to finding transient models that should work in reality, and not just in theory. At the same time, it provides pointers for strengthening democracy in the developed world.


About the Author

Anuradha Kataria is a graduate in Science as well as Education and a Management post graduate from Delhi University. Born and brought up in India, she has lived in all four of its main regions. She worked in marketing and market research, allowing her to travel extensively throughout the country, including rural parts of many states like Orissa, UP and Maharashtra. In her younger days, she lived in Botswana for a brief period and for the last three years she has been living in China. She has also traveled to many countries round the world. 

The book is written from a bottom-up perspective, from the viewpoint of a citizen—in terms of what alternate political models deliver in reality. Although it is based on scientific research and not anecdotal personal experiences, the author believes that living in a country provides an invaluable reality check to pure academic analysis.

Being a non indoctrinated researcher, willing to go where the evidence leads, she is better able to see the “Emperor’s New clothes” for what they truly are.

About the Book
There is a widening gap between democracy as a theory and its practice. While supposedly a solution to the problems of the developing world, in practice democracy has more often led to instability, civil wars, genocides, fundamentalism, crime and...
There is a widening gap between democracy as a theory and its practice. While supposedly a solution to the problems of the developing world, in practice democracy has more often led to instability, civil wars, genocides, fundamentalism, crime and corruption. In contrast, in the West, voting rights were extended gradually over a century or two, in tandem with economic empowerment and also social awakening. The democratic republics that “evolved” out of this long process were stable and progressive. In the developing world, a shortcut to the end and “premature political opening up” has proven disastrous for many a nation like Nigeria, Iraq, Congo, Kenya, Pakistan, South Africa etc. Even in the few stable ones like India, democracy has failed to make a dent in poverty alleviation and has instead got caught in divisive election stunts. At the same time, some unitary states like China have surged far ahead of others and broken out of the “largely poor and deteriorating” mould.

Why? What are the reasons democracy does not work in the developing world? Could it be made to work through improvements or is it the wrong model altogether?

The notion that democracy is going to transform our world holds little credence to anyone who has witnessed its true colors like the author has, hailing from India and also having lived in China and some other countries. Thus as a scientist and researcher, she has studied the history, politics and economics of some 150 countries across the world. The book delves into the complex world of subversive election winning strategies, secession movements, coalition governments, the meaning of freedom to people living amidst violence and poverty as well as a study of other sociopolitical systems. 

Without any a priori theories, willing to go where the evidence leads, the author is able to point out the “Emperor’s new clothes” for what they truly are. It may be time to challenge our perfect theory as democracy may not be the answer to the developing world’s problems.

The quest for truth leads us to surprising answers in terms of progressive transient alternatives for the developing world as well as some pointers for streamlining democracy, the system per se.

Democracy on Trial is a compelling discovery of fresh answers and pragmatic solutions to the pressing problems of our times — from large scale abject poverty in developing countries across Asia and Africa to many civil wars and ongoing mayhem in others.


One book that comes close to the perspective in Democracy on Trial – All Rise! is The Future of Freedom by Fareed Zakaria. Zakaria’s is the first book to acknowledge democracy’s failure in the developing world, but it leaves the important question ‘what is the alternative’ largely unanswered and falls back on rationalizations to conclude. Most of the current literature on democracy is primarily theoretical in nature and addresses some of its faults but democracy per se is eulogized. The new title is different in that it answers the question of ‘what is the alternative’ or a way forward based on an empirical analysis that carries the reader along to the conclusions. The perspective is new, as yet unexplored, and marries the progressive with the pragmatic.   

Excerpt
It begs asking why India, globally a far more integrated country than China and with a large English-speaking population, lags far behind on all development parameters. China is easily 3–4 times the size of the Indian economy, has invested heavily in infrastructure, education and basic health care, reduced the proportion of its population below the poverty line, and as well has established good law and order. If democracy is the right model for a developing nation and unitary state the wrong...
It begs asking why India, globally a far more integrated country than China and with a large English-speaking population, lags far behind on all development parameters. China is easily 3–4 times the size of the Indian economy, has invested heavily in infrastructure, education and basic health care, reduced the proportion of its population below the poverty line, and as well has established good law and order. If democracy is the right model for a developing nation and unitary state the wrong one, then the theorists have some explaining to do as far as the anomaly of the India–China comparison. It is not coincidence and we must not forever dodge such difficult questions.
... 
One often hears people saying that if they were to become the Prime Minister or the President, they would transform the country in a number of ways, maybe rout corruption, improve law and order, clean up the environment, or build infrastructure. These are well meaning but naïve statements. What they mean is that if they became absolute kings, they have thoughts on how to reform the country. In a democracy politicians simply do not hold that degree of power to push through their agendas, no matter how good for the society at large.

Pages 200
Year: 2010
BISAC: POL007000 POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Ideologies / Democracy
Soft Cover
ISBN: 978-0-87586-810-3
Price: USD 22.95
Hard Cover
ISBN: 978-0-87586-811-0
Price: USD 32.95
eBook
ISBN: 978-0-87586-812-7
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