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Three books to read this election season

Three books to read this election season
April 15
15:48 2019

Update your knowledge of India’s elections and democratic system with these books on the dynamics of successful campaigning; there are also nine landmark judgements that advance the Constitution’s principles of liberty, equality, fraternity; and finally a history of all the Indian elections that have happened till date.

Not surprigingly, the IANS Bookshelf is electorally-inclined for the weekend:

  1. Book: When India Votes: The Dynamics of Successful Election Campaigning; Authors: Jaishri Jethwaney and Samir Kapur; Publisher: Rupa; Price: Rs 295; Pages: 208

Elections have always been festive occasions in liberal democracies, and India is no exception.

The media becomes one of the most important players in elections because of its power of reach and agenda-setting. From one government-controlled television in India in 1984, to hundreds of news channels owned by various interest groups, a burgeoning print media, the coming of the social media and the tiniest and most ‘lethal’ of mass reach weapon, the mobile phone – all these have changed the way elections are now contested.

This book looks at the relationship between democracy, mass media and election campaigning, as also representative campaigns of the last three decades of the two major players – the Congress and the BJP.

  1. Book: The Transformative Constitution: A Radical Biography in Nine Acts; Author: Gautam Bhatia; Publisher: HarperCollins; Price: Rs 699; Pages: 499

Penned by noted lawyer and law scholar Gautam Bhatia, The Transformative Constitution draws on pre-Independence legal and political history to argue that the Constitution was intended to transform not merely the political status of Indians from subjects to citizens, but also the social relationships on which legal and political structures rested.

The author advances a new vision of the Constitution, and of constitutional interpretation, which is faithful to its text, structure and history, and above all to its overarching commitment to political and social transformation. By picking out nine cases, he analyses their judgements to show how they further the core principles enshrined in India’s definitive document – the Constitution.

  1. Book: Citizen Raj: Indian Elections 1952-2019; Author: Surjit S. Bhalla; Publisher: Westland; Price: Rs 499; Pages: 222

The latest title by leading economist Surjit Bhalla is an account of the history of Indian elections and chronicles the political and economic background against which it has been unfolding since 1952: the hegemony of the Congress party for close to six decades, and why the ‘dynasts’ control it; the ignominious end of Janata Party; the economic reforms of 1991; rise of the right-wing BJP in the early 1980s and most importantly, the way India ceded space to a man called Narendra Modi.

Citizen Raj also cautions readers that the BJP needs corrective action and to immediately move away from its cow politics, even as Rahul Gandhi-led Congress party and the Mahagathbandhan (Grand Alliance) need to move away from an outdated social and economic narrative to become worthy of a nation which is fast discarding identity and caste politics to emerge as a modern middle-class economic power. IANS

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It’s a lovely book. It feels energetically clear and light. It’s easy to read, dip in and out and most importantly it offers information without fluff! Blessings on this project.

Jac O’Keeffe
Spirituality teacher based in USA.

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