India's democracy before the democratic discontent, 1940s–1970s

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The last decade and a half saw what we can call a historical turn in the study of India's democracy. By drawing on some of these new works and on archival materials, this article offers a new way of thinking about the rooting and workings of democracy in India and its endurance. The article explores how India and Indians produced a concrete and convincing notion of a shared functioning purpose, a common good, for their deeply plural society, while allowing a meaningful space for the conflicts and inherent contradictions that underlay their democracy. I suggest that the persistence of these conflicts was important for the resilience of India's democracy. I examine three interrelated processes that with independence contributed to this outcome: the nature of the constitution and its making; the first election and the preparation for them between 1947 and 1952; and the articulation of the principle of state resource distribution and its development projects. The conclusion reflects on the significance of the historical turn to our understanding of post-independence India.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12742
JournalHistory Compass
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
I am grateful to History Compass’s editor, Debjani Bhattacharyya, and the two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments. I thank Eugenio Biagini for many conversations about the common good. I particularly thank Rohit De for his engagement with the article and valuable suggestions.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. History Compass published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History


Dive into the research topics of 'India's democracy before the democratic discontent, 1940s–1970s'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this