DECODING STATE OF POLITICS OF INDIAN NATION

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 State politics has evolved as an autonomous discipline with growing recognition of state as the primary unit of analysis. Politics in each state has its own internal dynamics, which differentiates it from others. There has been a growing realization that future analysis of Indian politics must concentrate on micro level analysis of political actions and processes of mobilization at local level. The internal power dynamics of states define the political power play at the centre. Political dispensation at state level demands meticulous scrutiny as it has an enduring effect on political configuration at the centre. Micro level analysis of internal dynamics of state politics has therefore now become imperative for an understanding of Indian politics and economy. State politics is no more an appendage of the discipline of Indian politics but has emerged as an autonomous discipline. The book State Politics in India, edited by Himanshu Roy, M.P Singh et el is a reflection of the exalted status of study of state politics as an autonomous discipline. Politics in each state has its own internal dynamics, which differentiates it from other states multifacetedly. In India we have a common Nationality but then we also have a customary identity attached. An Indian is also Aryan, Dravidian, Tamil, Assamese, and Punjabi etc. India is home to four major religions of the world (Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, and Sikhism,) and accommodates all the religion of the world. Caste is another reality in India and all major religions in India are further differentiated on caste lines. Caste plays a vital role in underlining cultural differences within religion. There is also wide diversity on linguistic lines; there are 22 languages in the Eighth Schedule of India’s Constitution and more than100 languages spoken by more than 10,000 people each. “Yet there are commonalities across the boundaries at micro and macro levels. The common linkages are the expansion and intensification of capitalism and its social relations into the innermost peripheral areas, breakdown of the old structures and social mores, emergence of civil society, development of administrative transparency, growth of alternative party systems and the linkages of each state with the global capital. The liberalization of economy over the decades has speeded up the growth of commonalities across the states through uniform production process and consumption culture. 

There is much to panegyrize about the book. In the past Seven decades, several works have been published on the theme but unlike existing literature this volume takes the study of state politics beyond the electoral process. This Work is eloquent, epochmaking, and important seeing the changing nature of state politics in India. The volume is micro level analysis of state politics exploring the particular and definite behavior of the states. The book is a splendid collection of deeply thought out and substantively analyzed twenty nine chapters, throwing light on not only politics of each state in India rather it enciphers an unique combination of the study of different forms in which the state apparatus operates in India and the multi-layer interaction of the people with the state. The volume discusses history, social structure, economy, party system, voting behavior, electoral outcome, political culture and governance in 28 states (Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengal) and 2 Union territories with legislative assemblies (Delhi and Puducherry). The volume examines in greater depth the internal political dynamics in each of these states and UTs which differs multifacetedly due to variations in the size of the populace, demography, area, topography, economy and the power structure of the different caste and communities. “These dynamics may aggravate or soften up the distinctions of each state under different kinds of governance actuating under a process in a region. Or it may acquire further identity contours under the impact of religiosity, regional jingoism, sub-regional, and ethnic movements. Or under the impact of religious organizations, rural-urban divide, industrialization -urbanization process, it becomes violent / vituperative. The stage of social political awareness of the labour and peasantry, the power of the local elite, their historical legacies and the overall economic development of the state play an equally important role in shaping its specificity. “ (p.ix) The deep research by the contributors for each chapters and the well-focused thematic conceptualization of ideas by the editors is a particular combination which makes this compendium a historic contribution to state politics subfield of political studies. The Pan India outlook of the book enriches the reader’s perspective uniquely and leads to a broader understanding of various political and social issues. The book moves to transcend the existing boundaries of horizontal introspection of state politics and provides for a more profound vertical analysis. The idea of the book is enthralling per se as it has segmented itself to include assorted discourses which includes a discursive study of twenty eight states and two union territories. The seventy years of Indian political narrative has seen a lot of change and continuity, but the momentum which has shaped the timing of the book is the changing dynamics of federal politics in India after 2014 federal election with Narendra Modi at the helm. The ascendancy of Bhartiya Janata Party has changed the whole political landscape of India. As of June 2017, the BJP is in power with a majority in legislative assemblies of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. States like Andhra Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Nagaland, Sikkim, Goa, Maharashtra and Manipur also have NDA coalition government. The book so importantly carves out one new discourse as how the economic and social outlook towards political dispensation has changed over the years. The books is loud and clear about one thing, meaning that 3p’s- people, participation and polls have provided to State politics in India. In decoding the political history in Indian politics the contributors have left no stone unturned as there is a detailed discussion in each chapter on the politics, social relations, economy, demographics, cultural vertices, and other various entitlements of the states. “The stage of socio-political awareness of the labour and peasantry, the power of the local elite, their historical legacies and the overall economic development of the state play an equally important role in shaping its specificity” (p. ix.), the book underlines and celebrates the magnificent attributes of particularity and specificities of each state in a 919 pages long treatise. There is one remarkable feature about the book which makes it more enticing for the readers that it has focused on mapping various identities involved and has included their various articulations in form of texts. It further underscores that the pertaining issues of governance, development policies and decentralization of polity circumambient subaltern politics in various states. The work discusses every aspects of changing contour of state politics in India. “The changing social structure and their new civic
requirements have compelled the political parties to mend their ways of governance. It has, simultaneously also, altered the regional / state party systems resulting into the demise of Congress system and has predominantly become the bi-party or bicoalitional systems across the majority of states and union territories. The rise of the Other Backward Castes (OBC), Dalits and other marginalized sections catapulted the non-Congress parties into the power and heralded the era of political decentralization through coalition formations not only in states but also at the centre. “ (p.x) “The economic reforms have augmented the scope of the private sector and autonomy of state governments. Like the union government the state governments are now also vying with each other to attract private capital-national, multinational, and global multilateral- by offering better infrastructural facilities (‘race to the top’) or tax concessions and holidays (‘race to the bottom’)” (p. 18). “Over the decades, the traditional social structure and its agenda of development (the rhetorical socialistic pattern of society) have declined…..the transformation from rural India urban India, the betterment of social, economic position of the other backward castes, and Dalits and their political emergence gradually changed the content of politics.” (p. 893). The work should also be credited for micro level analysis of determinants like democratization, multicultural secularization, federalization, economic liberalisation/privatization/globalization and sustainable development. The book has done a detailed investigation of impact of all these factors on politics in India in general and states in particular. Editors pinpointed the variations in the way these processes and factors manifest themselves in different state of India. For this purpose they had employed an explanatory framework comprising the following five factors: (1) “ geography and history; (2)demography, culture, and social capital; (3) political economy with foci on macro-economic sectors and class structure; (4)patterns of state party system and social and political movements; and (5) the quality of political leadership with appropriate motivation and skill.” (p.24) The book distinguishes itself from the conventional and stereotypical study of state politics in India. It generates a neonarrative to look at the politics in all twenty nine state units with a bottom to top approach, where each and every aspiration is accommodated with voice and representation. The text in the various chapters allocates due importance to both mainstream and sub-regional political, social and cultural spaces. The idea is to acknowledge their constitutive participation to create a real space for constructive dialogue. My only substantive (and substantial) criticism is that due to variegated contributors from different disciplines the volume lacks continuity and consistency on some instances. Due to the differences in methodological framework some chapters of the volume look better balanced in terms of quality and content in comparison to others. Another missing link is that this work does not reflect much on the changing political landscape of the country post 2014 general election. Due to the temporal distance in which the idea of compendium unfolded and the time of its publication it misses the changing contours of state politics due to victories of Bharatiya Janata Party in different state assembly elections post 2014 general election as the book was already in print. All this is suggestive for the next edition. Nevertheless, the compendium is prodigious theoretical contribution to the existing literature on State Politics in India. The comprehensive, coherent, clear and candid presentation of editor’s experience and knowledge that too in the lucid language will provoke further research on the theme. The book is well researched and is essential reading for students, researchers, experts and teacher interested in decoding the internal dynamics of state politics in India.

 

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