democracy purveyed by India’s liberal, Westernised elite. Though the elite would rather not acknowledge the bulk of the Indian population, a population, which is socially conservative and continues to dwell in small towns and rural areas where political power is exercised freely and often without constraint, a liberal democratic process has now forced them to do so.
This is a triumph of electoral democracy and not a failure, in that it has finally brought the majority to power, however rural and socially conservative they may be. For the first time in Indian history, a local politician, Narendra Modi, has successfully led a national campaign. However much the Indian urban intellectuals would like to disassociate the two, a liberal process and its conservative ends, India’s recent election serves as yet another reminder that democracy does not necessarily privilege liberal ideas and can just as capably provide political openings for conservative ones.
The writers are at the Travers Department of Political Science at the University of California, Berkley, US