Most western academics were skeptical about the future of India, the world’s largest democracy, throughout the 1950s to the 1970s. It succeeded beyond all expectations in mobilizing large-scale electoral participation, especially among poor and illiterate voters, though paradoxically they benefitted the least from it economically. And yet today its very existence seems to hang in balance as the country faces a deep crisis of liberal, secular democratic norms, values and institutional practices. Freedom House even downgraded India from a free democracy to a "partially free democracy" last year. So what ails Indian democracy so suddenly? How deep are the roots of the massive challenges it must overcome? Must it revitalize itself using Indian civilizational ideas instead of, or melded with, western norms of liberalism and secularism?
Yogendra Yadav (a leading political theorist and leader of the Swaraj India party established in 2016) helps us make sense of the past, present and future of democracy in India.