Democracy in India

Death in Slow Motion

Will democracy survive? A new book examines the existential threats facing the world’s largest democracy.

In „To Kill a Democracy”, John Keane,  Research Professor at WZB for Theory, History and Future of Democracy, and Hong Kong-based journalist Debasish Roy Chowdhury offer a sobering diagnosis: India, once a beacon of democracy, is heading towards despotism. How could this happen, given that India is considered the world's largest democracy? In their publication, which combines political theory with a close look at the country's history and current developments, the two authors show how a democracy goes into a tailspin when it destroys its social foundations, paving the way for despotism. For democracy, the authors argue, is about so much more than winning elections and the separation of powers. It is a way of life and a form of government in which people live and die in dignity. In 13 engagingly written chapters, they describe how democratic elections lose all significance once social injustices are ignored and institutions begin to serve only the ruling classes. India, they conclude, might well be facing its “social death”.

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Book cover of To Kill a Democracy

Debasish Roy Chowdhury/John Keane: To Kill A Democracy. India’s Passage to Despotism. Delhi: Oxford University Press India 2021.