India’s Democracy at 70: The Troublesome Security State

Issue Date July 2017
Volume 28
Issue 3
Page Numbers 117-126
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Seven decades after gaining its independence from the British Empire, India retains all the hallmarks of a functioning democracy: It holds reasonably free and fair elections, has a mostly independent judiciary plus a largely free press, and enjoys a robust and growing civil society. Yet thanks to India’s colonial inheritance as well as weaknesses in some of its key institutions, the country has rarely hesitated to resort to legal crackdowns on personal rights and civil liberties when disturbances break out. Even as India rightly celebrates a nearly unbroken record of democratic rule spanning seven decades, its citizens and political leaders need to take stock of their country’s failure to safeguard certain vital features of the liberal-democratic order.