ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Call for Deepening Democracy in Kerala

This reply to M A Oommen's "Deepening Democracy and Local Governance: Challenges before Kerala" (EPW, 21 June 2014) cites a few situations that give rise to doubts about the further deepening of democracy in Kerala through deliberative democracy.

Much has been discussed and written over the last decade and a half about the decentralised planning and local democracy in Kerala. The article by M A Oommen, “Deepening Democracy and Local Governance: Challenges before Kerala” (EPW, 21 June 2014) is in a different vein and raises the

need to strengthen the communicative system based on public reason so that Kerala’s public sphere, including its local public sphere, gets progressively oriented on a rational democratic footing (Oommen 2014: 46).

As an economist continuously engaged in debating and reflecting on the democratic decentralisation paradigm, Oommen has diagnosed some of the basic problems affecting the deepening of democracy and decentralisation in Kerala. Given the intrinsic merit of his proposal to “strengthen the communicative system based on public reason” it is important and certainly meaningful only if it is contextualised. This is an attempt to discuss it contextually and more realistically without disregarding the theoretical underpinning of Jürgen Habermas to which the author makes relevant references. A few contemporary issues are taken up by way of illustration.

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