Culture Making is now archived. Enjoy five years of reflections on culture worth celebrating.
For more about the book and Andy Crouch, please visit

Posts tagged terrorism

from "Reflections on the future of Indian democracy," by Dipesh Chakrabarty, The Immanent Frame, 4 December 2008

To have an effective cordon sanitaire against terror would require India to inject a degree of efficiency, alertness, and performance into an administrative apparatus that simply has not delivered on these scores for decades. For many interesting historical reasons (that need not detain us here), government and public institutions in India gradually ceased to be effective deliverers of goods and services, beginning in the 1970’s. There is much that democracy in India has achieved, including the famous overturning of the autocratic Emergency Rule that Mrs. Gandhi once imposed and the sense of participation many low-caste communities have in the country’s governmental institutions. But democracy in India has also become predominantly a means of electoral empowerment of different groups—low-castes, dalits, minorities, or even majoritarian Hindus who claim to have been “weakened” by the “privileges” accorded to minorities.

The growth of this politics of identity has made elections into the mainstay of Indian democracy. It has distanced politics from issues of governance, and has gone hand in hand with a deepening degree of corruption, financial and otherwise, on the part of politicians and officials. A large number of the elected members of parliament have criminal cases pending against them, and media reports suggest an elephantine, unaccountable, inefficient bureaucracy mired in the self-indulgent use of resources (corruption and inefficiency often going together). There was, as last week’s events made clear, no effective coast guard force on the Indian seas, in spite of the government having been warned of possible terror attacks on Mumbai from the sea. When the Taj Hotel caught fire, it took the first lot of firefighters three hours to respond. The commando force had to be dispatched from Delhi and it took about nine hours to mobilize them, as they are usually kept busy providing “security” to politicians, many of whom see such security as a matter of status and prestige.