Manoranjan Mohanty, Richard Baum, Rong Ma, George Mathew (eds.). Grassroots Democracy in India and China: The Right to Participate.
Article Type: Book review
Subject: Books (Book reviews)
Author: Malik, Afia
Pub Date: 03/22/2008
Publication: Name: Pakistan Development Review Publisher: Pakistan Institute of Development Economics Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Business, international; Social sciences Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2008 Reproduced with permission of the Publications Division, Pakistan Institute of Development Economies, Islamabad, Pakistan. ISSN: 0030-9729
Issue: Date: Spring, 2008 Source Volume: 47 Source Issue: 1
Topic: NamedWork: Grassroots Democracy in India and China: The Right to Participate (Nonfiction work)
Persons: Reviewee: Mohanty, Manoranjan; Baum, Richard; Ma, Rong; Mathew, George
Accession Number: 204074619
Full Text: Manoranjan Mohanty, Richard Baum, Rong Ma, George Mathew (eds.). Grassroots Democracy in India and China: The Right to Participate. New Delhi: Sage Publications. 2006. 498 pages. Hardbound. Indian Rs 850.00.

China and India, the two postcolonial societies with characteristics of longstanding civilisations as well as of great social diversity, are currently involved in social transformation both horizontally and vertically. This volume, a combined research product by scholars from India, China, and US, has attempted to encapsulate the meaning of that experience. The contributors have examined the grassroots political processes of India and China in a comparative perspective, keeping some theoretical questions relating to participatory democracy in mind. They have studied the political experience in these countries from an interdisciplinary perspective. The idea is to present the nature of the democratisation process, characterised by many similar elements in both countries, especially the trend of rising demands for participation and complex power structures interrupting them. It highlights the significance of the dynamic relationship between political institutions and the socio-economic processes.

After an introduction, the volume is divided in three parts. Part I concentrates on institutional dynamics. There are nine chapters in this part. The first chapter provides a comparative picture of the village committees of China and the panchayats of India, two significant innovations in grass-roots democracy in these two societies. The next two chapters, one on china and the other on India outlines the basic structure of village self-government and provides a historical overview of local political processes in China during the pre-reform and post-reform period, and in India, before the Seventy-Third Amendment and subsequently.

The next six chapters are the case studies three from the provinces of China and three from the states of India. These cases have thrown some light on specific issues of power dynamics at the local level.

Part II reflects on the emerging socio-economic issues. The ten chapters in this part are basically a comparison reflecting on local political economy. The case studies from India and China focus on emerging socio-economic issues relating to gender, ethnicity and religion in the local political processes.

Finally, Part III is the conclusion. The authors in this chapter "Reconceptualising Local Democracy" ruminate on the institutional dynamics and socio-economic processes of local governance in India and China within the broader parameters of the political economy of local democracy. Their focus is on the relationship between the forces of market dominance and global incorporation that are transforming many parts of the world including India and China.

By Afia Malik, Research Economist, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, Islamabad.
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