logo
  New Login   
image

Qualitative Information and Quantitative Data


Amit Prakash

STATE OF DEMOCRACY IN SOUTH ASIA: A REPORT
By OUP
Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2008, pp. ix 302, Rs. 595.00

LOCAL DEMOCRACY IN SOUTH ASIA: MICROPROCESSES OF DEMOCRATIZATION IN NEPAL AND ITS NEIGHBOURS
Edited by David N. Gellner and, Krishna Hachhethu
Sage Publications, New Delhi, 2008, pp. 472, Rs. 795.00

VOLUME XXXII NUMBER 10 October 2008

The multifaceted experience of local democracy in South Asia is increasingly becoming a focus of academic analysis, some of which seeks to study the renewed impetus towards decentralization in many countries of the region. While a host of issues—from those of institutional design to those of participation of marginalized sections—have been reported in the evolution of local democracy in the region, substantial research is still needed to fill in the gaps in qualitative information and quantitative datasets. The two volumes under review are important contributions in this direction. The first, State and Democracy in South Asia, presents the results of a first-of-its-kind detailed empirical assessment of democracy across five countries in South Asia—Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. A pioneering effort, the report with its pluralized methodological tools and the wide scope of empirical assessments makes it an invaluable reading to any student of the evolution of a South Asian democracy as different from the western notion of democracy.   The report seeks to ‘pluralize the conceptions of democracy and the attendant theoretical assumptions…’ and in doing so, it argues ‘that there is a deep incompatibility between the idea of democracy and the privileging of universalist notions of knowledge’ (p. 2). There is therefore a pressing need to shift the locus of debates on democracy to what the report calls ‘most of the world’ (p. 2). The report also seeks to move the discussion away from expert-centric notions of democracy and also from ‘simple-minded polarity of democracy and non-democracy’ as also to pluralize the ‘methodology of assessment of democracy’ (pp. 2-3) by foregrounding popular views and perceptions. Further, the report seeks to avoid arriving at well-structured conclusions so as to allow the readers to engage and arrive at their own assessments of the results.   The report stresses the two-way interaction between South Asia and the idea of democracy, both of which have shaped and enriched each other. The empirical survey that lies at the root of the report used a cross-sectional survey for more than nineteen thousand samples of adult citizens aimed at mapping citizen’s opinions, attitudes and behaviour. In addition, dialogues were adopted as a method of recording the diverse ways in which various actors engage and radicalize democracy in the region. Sixteen case studies were also developed to undertake detailed critical investigation into the received democratic wisdom. Besides, qualitative assessments within a detailed framework through 27 specially ...


Table of Contents >>
Please or to Read Entire Article
«BACK

Free Access Online 12 Back Issues
with 1 year's subscription
Archive (1976-2011)
under construction.