The Puzzle of India's Governance: Culture, Context and Comparative Theory, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Puzzle of India's Governance

Culture, Context and Comparative Theory, 1st Edition

By Subrata K. Mitra


346 pages

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India no longer gets an easy ride as the world's largest democracy. Spectacular terrorist attacks on its Parliament and places of worship, communal riots of unprecedented ferocity, lingering separatist insurgency and violent caste conflict in impoverished regions have combined to cause a closer appraisal of India's capacity to sustain the rule of law.

This book shows how governance is high when people follow the rules of transaction, derived from binding custom, legislation, administrative practices and the constitution. The key question that underpins this analysis is why do some people, sometimes, follow rules and not others? This study responds to this central question by looking at analytical narratives of political order in six Indian regional States, surveys of social and political attitudes and extended interviews with political leaders, administrators and police officers. It shows how, by drawing on the logic of human ingenuity, driven by self interest rather than mechanical adherence to tradition and ideology, these regional elites can design institutions and promote security, welfare and identity which enhance governance.


'Mitra's work deserves attention for its use of a range of methodological approaches that substantiate the argument that instead of having a segmented polity, a federalizing India provides an ideal environment for undertaking a comparative analysis based on one nation, many unit's sampling frame provided that the units are autonomous and homogeneous for the purpose of the study and that the cases are selected in a manner that minimises bias'. - Seminar

'The present work should enable the comparativists to become familiar with sophisticated analytical and statistical research tools, as also encourage the sceptics to rethink state politics from a governance perspective.' - Seminar

Table of Contents

Introduction: A Comparative Theory of Governance. Measuring Governance: A Design for Empirical Enquiry. The Institutional Arrangement of Governance: Structure and Formation of the State in India. The Regional Context of Governance: Six Analytic Narratives. Policing and Governance: Culture and Context in the Organisation of Order. The Agency of Public Institutions: Leaders, Administrators and Governance. Modern State and Pre-Modern Identities: Governing Culture in Changing Societies. Negotiating Governance in Changing Societies: Beyond the Indian Model. Bibliography of Texts Cited. Appendix 1: Elite Questionnaire with Marginals

About the Series

Routledge Advances in South Asian Studies

South Asia, with its burgeoning, ethnically diverse population, soaring economies, and nuclear weapons, is an increasingly important region in the global context. The series, which builds on this complex, dynamic and volatile area, features innovative and original research on the region as a whole or on the countries. Its scope extends to scholarly works drawing on history, politics, development studies, sociology and economics of individual countries from the region as well those that take an interdisciplinary and comparative approach to the area as a whole or to a comparison of two or more countries from this region. In terms of theory and method, rather than basing itself on any one orthodoxy, the series draws broadly on the insights germane to area studies, as well as the tool kit of the social sciences in general, emphasizing comparison, the analysis of the structure and processes, and the application of qualitative and quantitative methods. The series welcomes submissions from established authors in the field as well as from young authors who have recently completed their doctoral dissertations.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Asia / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General