Frames Of Major Debates
Ajit K Phadnis
THE INDIAN PARLIAMENT AND DEMOCRATIC TRANSFORMATION by Ajay K. Mehra Routledge, India, 2018, 396 pp., 9626
December 2018, volume 42, No 12

Indian democracy is in a state of transition. One approach to examining this ‘democratic transformation’, as the book under review calls it, is by studying the shifts within the legislature, since it is the legislature that mirrors the changes in the larger polity. This is the approach exercised in the edited volume by Ajay Mehra to bring fresh insights into the functioning of India’s parliamentary democracy, and in this regard the book makes a valuable contribution.

The broad contours of the book are well- laid out in the introductory chapter, which raises questions regarding three aspects: (a) The design of the institution (b) The gap between the design and practice of the institution and (c) The projections for the future. This is obviously a wide canvas and the author acknowledges that the idea is not to answer ‘these questions with any finality’ but rather to motivate more work in the area. But, in general, I found that most chapters in the volume focus on the contrast between institutional design and actual practice, and in the process reflect a deep concern that the institution of parliament has not quite lived up to the expectations.

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