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date: 23 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter traces the evolution of deliberative institutions in India, as well as the ways in which deliberative bodies influence, and are in influenced by, entrenched social inequality. The paper first unpacks the historical roots of Indian deliberation, emphasizing the ways in which religious traditions fostered a culture of debate and dialogue. The paper then explores the interplay between Western liberal philosophers, most notably Henry Maine, and Indian political thinkers, including Gandhi and Ambedkar, on participatory democracy in India. The discussion then highlights the continued dialogue between Indian and Western ideas in the push for greater participatory development. Finally, the chapter probes the current incarnation of state-sponsored deliberation in India—namely, village assemblies known as gram sabhas under the constitutionally mandated system of Indian village democracy or Panchayati Raj, and reviews the growing empirical scholarship about these village assemblies.

Keywords: deliberation, democracy, India, Gram Sabhas, Gandhi, Henry Maine

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