chapter  3
24 Pages

The puzzle of Indian democracy: A Consociational interpretation

India has been the one major deviant case for consociational (power shar-

ing) theory, and its sheer size makes the exception especially damaging. A

deeply divided society with, supposedly, a mainly majoritarian type of

democracy, India nevertheless has been able to maintain its democratic

system. Careful examination reveals, however, that Indian democracy has

displayed all four crucial elements of power sharing theory. In fact, it was a

perfectly and thoroughly consociational system during its first two decades.

From the late 1960s on, although India has remained basically consociational, some of its power sharing elements have weakened under the pres-

sure of greater mass mobilization. Concomitantly, in accordance with

consociational theory, intergroup hostility and violence have increased.

Therefore, India is not a deviant case for consociational theory but, instead,

an impressive confirming case.