A few decades ago, India was viewed primarily as a country beset by poverty and cultural differences. Its political system was in transition from one-party dominance to coalition politics. However, recent political changes with a majority government have led to democratic practice being challenged, particularly in light of persistent economic and social inequality. The state’s capacity to redistribute wealth and alleviate poverty has been questioned, along with the robustness of its institutions and the negotiation of boundaries between state and civil society.
In this context The State in India offers an insightful overview of the literature on the state and showcases the interplay of state and society in new sites: processes of globalisation, assertions of sovereignty, and across the regional and local. The volume moves beyond the state question to interrogate how the state can shape concepts, ideas, and institutions central to our lives. The rise of the welfare state with extensive social policies of affirmative action and the emerging penal state are some of the core themes of the volume.
The essays view the state through different lenses: nation, democracy, rights, security, legitimacy, hegemony, decentralisation, welfare, and violence.They study how social, symbolic and political orders are deeply infused with structures of gender, caste, class, and regional hierarchies. Thereby, the volume questions the terrain that identifies and gives meaning to our received understanding of the state.
This book is a comprehensive source for foundational concepts in studying the state and will be valuable for specialists, researchers and students of political science, public policy and governance, in addition to civil society and human rights organisations.
Vidhu Verma is Professor, Centre for Political Studies, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.
List of Abbreviations
The State in India: Contesting Perspectives
1. Social Rights and the Paradox of Indian Democracy
2. Globalisation, State and Sovereignty
Changing Contours of India’s Foreign Policy
3. Region and Nation in the Formation of the Modern Indian State
4. The State, Law and Multiple Legitimacies
A Case of Khap Panchayats
5. From the Nation-State to Global Governance
A Gendered Analysis
Shirin M. Rai
6. Caste to Class?
State Policy towards Reservations
7. Decentralisation, Autonomy and Power
State and Politics of Forest Governance
8. The State, Social Policy and Welfare
Reflections on Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal
Rahul Mukherji and Himanshu Jha
9. State, Social Justice and Reservation Policies
Reframing the Debate
10. The Left and the Indian State
Hegemony, Government and Reforms
11. State Violence, Coercion and Human Rights in India
12. Discipline and Punishment in North-East India
Notes on the Contributors