Rise of the Plebeians?: The Changing Face of the Indian Legislative Assemblies, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Rise of the Plebeians?

The Changing Face of the Indian Legislative Assemblies, 1st Edition

Edited by Christophe Jaffrelot, Sanjay Kumar

Routledge India

400 pages

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For decades, India has been a conservative democracy governed by the upper caste notables coming from the urban bourgeoisie, the landowning aristocracy and the intelligentsia. The democratisation of the ‘world’s largest democracy’ started with the rise of peasants’ parties and the politicisation of the lower castes who voted their own representatives to power as soon as they emancipated themselves from the elite’s domination. In Indian state politics, caste plays a major role and this book successfully studies how this caste-based social diversity gets translated into politics.

This is the first comprehensive study of the sociological profile of Indian political personnel at the state level. It examines the individual trajectory of 16 states, from the 1950s to 2000s, according to one dominant parameter—the evolution of the caste background of their elected representatives known as Members of the Legislative Assembly, or MLAs. The study also takes into account other variables like occupation, gender, age and education.


'This book is highly recommended to readers interested in the current dynamics of

Indian politics, specifi cally with regard to the rise of ‘the plebeians’ to power, offering clear historical insights on some of the major Indian states and central issues concerning Indian politics.' - Anna Dugoni, SOAS, University of London; South Asia Research Vol. 30 No. 2 [July 2010]

Table of Contents

Foreword Yogendra Yadav. Introduction Christophe Jaffrelot Part 1: North India towards Social Engineering 1. The Political Elite in Uttar Pradesh Jasmine Zérinini-Brotel 2. Bihar: The New Stronghold of Plebeian Politics Cyril Robin 3. The Uneven Rise of the Lower Castes in Madhya Pradesh Politics Christophe Jaffrelot 4. From the Upper Castes to the Dominant Caste Politics in Rajasthan: A Conservative Pattern of Political Evolution Christophe Jaffrelot 5. Gujarat: When Patels Resist the Kshatriyas Ghanshyam Shah and Kiran Desai Part 2: The Reign of Dominant Castes in the Deccan 6. Maharashtra or Maratha Rashtra? Rajendra Vora 7. Legislators in Karnataka: The Resilience of Dominant Castes Sandeep Shastri 8. Andhra Pradesh: A Two-dominant Caste Socio-political System Anne Vaugier-Chatterjee Part 3: The Tamil Exception: The Subalternist Tradition 9. Caste and Beyond in Tamil Politics Jean-Luc Racine Part 4: Where the Upper Castes Resist 10. The Resilient Bhadralok: A Profile of the West Bengal MLAs Stéphanie Tawa Lama-Rewal 11. Socio-economic Background of Legislators in Kerala Gopa Kumar 12. The Socio-economic Profile of the Legislators of Himachal Pradesh T.R. Sharma 13. The Changing Face of Delhi’s Politics? Sanjay Kumar Part 5: Alternative Routes 14. The Punjab’s Legislative Élite T.R. Sharma 15. The Jharkhand, between Tribal Mobilisation and the Rise to Power of the OBCs Cyril Robin 16. Chhattisgarh: Tribals, OBCs, Reformist Movements and Mainstream Politics Samuel Berthet

About the Editors

Christophe Jaffrelot is Director, Centre d’Etudes et de Recherches Internationales (CERI); and Research Director, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS). He is the director of the quarterly journal Critique Internationale. His most recent publications are The Hindu Nationalist Movement and Indian Politics, 1925 to 1990s (1996); India’s Silent Revolution: The Rise of the Lower Castes in North India (2003); and Dr. Ambedkar and Untouchability: Analysing and Fighting Caste (2005). He has also co-edited (with T.B. Hansen), The BJP and the Compulsions of Politics in India (1998).

Sanjay Kumar is Fellow, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), Delhi. His area of interest is electoral politics and speciality is survey research techniques. He was the National Coordinator for the three national surveys (National Election Study 1998, 1999 and 2004) conducted by the CSDS. He was also the country coordinator (India) for the ‘State of Democracy in South Asia’ (SDSA) study carried out in five South Asian countries (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal). He is the core team member of the Asian Barometer Survey led by Prof. Takashi Inoguchi of Cho University, Japan. He has authored various research reports, and contributed to various edited volumes, research journals and national newspapers.

About the Series

Exploring the Political in South Asia

Exploring the Political in South Asia is devoted to the publication of research on the political cultures of the region. The books in this Series will present qualitative and quantitative analyses grounded in field research, and will explore the cultures of democracies in their everyday local settings, specifically the workings of modern political institutions, practices of political mobilisation, manoeuvres of high politics, structures of popular beliefs, content of political ideologies and styles of political leadership, amongst others. Through fine-grained descriptions of particular settings in South Asia, the studies presented in this Series will inform, and have implications for, general discussions of democracy and politics elsewhere in the world.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Regional Studies