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Democracy, sacred and everyday: an ethnographic case from India

By Mukulika Banerjee


In this chapter, I examine aspects of democracy in its various settings of everyday politics and at the extraordinary time of elections. The state of West Bengal, where this study is set, consistently produces some of the highest voter turnouts in India, despite high levels of illiteracy and poverty. The average turnout is 80 percent, compared with the national average of just 60 percent, and West Bengal also has the highest per capita attendance at political rallies in India.Democracy here is a well-grounded phenomenon in which political participation and engagement are widespread. Further, the government in this eastern state is led by the Left Front (LF), a coalition of communist and socialist parties that has governed since 1977. This is a unique case of electoral success in the sixtyone- year history of Indian democracy (or, in fact, in any other). No other elected government or political party has remained continuously in power for so long in a free and fair electoral settin

Topics: GN Anthropology, JQ Political institutions Asia
Publisher: School for Advanced Research Press
Year: 2008
OAI identifier:
Provided by: LSE Research Online
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