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

A+| A| A-

Civil Society and Indian Democracy

Possibilities of Social Transformation

Spaces available for democratic expression need to be utilised with renewed creativity by those fighting for a more equal, less exploitative social order. There is a need to guard against both the despair of rejecting all civil society efforts as sham as well as of taking this democracy for granted. Can civil society organisations work for social transformation without veering towards these two extremes?

This article is a considerably modified version of three public lectures, the keynote address at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies Policy Dialogue in August 2013, the Golden Jubilee Lecture delivered at CSDS in February 2013 and a lecture at the National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bengaluru in January 2013. I am grateful to various participants, especially Rajeev Bhargava, Arshima Dost, Ramaswamy Iyer, Mahadevan Ramaswamy and Yogendra Yadav for their comments and suggestions. I also wish to thank students in my classes at the Young India Fellowship and Samaj Pragati Sahayog, whose penetrating questions have forced me to articulate my ideas better. Finally, I acknowledge the very useful comments of Sanchita Bakshi and P S Vijayshankar on an earlier draft of this article.

Establishing a democracy in a country with such massive poverty and profound social, economic and regional inequality has been an enormous challenge. As evidence of intensifying market and government failure accumulated in recent decades, civil society began playing an increasingly important role in India. This article seeks to answer the following questions.

Can civil society be seen as an agent of social transformation in India today? In what form and under what circumstances can the answer to this question be given in the affirmative? In order to answer these questions, this article attempts to: (1) Enunciate a theoretical framework within which we can understand the role of civil society and (2) carefully differentiate empirically the different strands within civil society in India today.

Dear Reader,

To continue reading, become a subscriber.

Explore our attractive subscription offers.

Click here


To gain instant access to this article (download).

Pay INR 50.00

(Readers in India)

Pay $ 6.00

(Readers outside India)

Back to Top