Contemporary South Asia: Series Number 1: Democracy and Authoritarianism in South Asia: A Comparative and Historical Perspective

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In a comparative and historical study of the interplay between democratic politics and authoritarian states in South Asia, Ayesha Jalal explains how a shared colonial legacy led to apparently contrasting patterns of political development - democracy in India and authoritarianism in Pakistan and Bangladesh. The analysis shows how, despite differences in form, central political authority in each state came to confront similar threats from regional and linguistic dissidence, religious and sectarian strife, as well as class and caste conflicts. By comparing state structures and political processes, the author evaluates and redefines democracy, citizenship, sovereignty and the nation-state, arguing for a more decentralized governmental structure. This original and provocative study will challenge students and scholars in the field to rethink traditional concepts of democracy and authoritarianism in South Asia.