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Inheritance, Hierarchy and Caste

Inheritance, Hierarchy and Caste
Origins of Political Decay in India

  • Dhananjay Soindaji Wanjari - IRS Officer, and the Additional Director and Faculty of the Planning and Research Division at the National Academy of Direct Taxes, Nagpur, India

February 2022 | 340 pages | SAGE India
The growing power of business and the increasing rhetoric of the cultural–religious ideology of Hindutva have been the focus of the recent scholarly ventures seeking to explain the persistent undemocratic tendencies in India. The book argues that this traditional and pervasive analytical framework has failed to unravel the deep-rooted societal causes of the growing degeneration in political institutions. What is missed out is the increasing concentration of power in the hands of the hereditary governing class. Inheritance, Hierarchy and Caste: Origins of Political Decay in India shows how the elite-pursuit for controlling societal power, retaining hierarchy and perpetuating inheritance is making use of ideology and, thereby, undermining the democratic spirit in India and reshaping the state itself. The book underlines the realistic significance of the effective representation of the governed classes and analyses how it is critical for bringing pragmatism to the relation between the institutional and functional aspects of the democratic consolidation in India. 
Foreword by Christophe Jaffrelot
PART I: Exploring the Origins
Social Institutions as Ruling Strategies
Short-circuiting the Elite vs Society Axis: The Arrest of Political Expansion
PART II: Beyond the State and Society
State in Society and Society in State
Representation: The Power of Diversity
Elite Origins of Democracy and Democratic Origins of Authoritarianism
Part III: Decoding the Veneers
Political System and Its Instrumentality
Casteist Capitalism and Dilemma of Democratic Socialism
Democracy in India: Mistaking Form for the Substance

Dhananjay Soindaji Wanjari’s book is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the challenges facing Indian democracy today. Wanjari sees these challenges not as recent developments but rather as the culmination of deep caste divisions within the Indian society. While caste is certainly not a neglected topic among scholars, Wanjari succeeds in restoring forward caste power to its place as the central and continuing challenge to the consolidation of democracy in India.

Charles Hankla, PhD
Associate Professor, Political Science Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA, USA

Dhananjay Soindaji Wanjari’s Inheritance, Hierarchy and Caste offers a well-argued analysis of the intersections of state, society and caste in the Indian society. His exploration of the contentious claims about political decay and the illiberal turn in Indian politics are sure to be provocative, and they will stimulate more thought on the democratic remedies for the challenges facing India’s socio-religious institutions and political life. His book represents a comprehensive and creative examination of the vexed relationship between the state and society, and religion and civil politics in India.

Scott R. Stroud, PhD
Associate Professor of Communication Studies University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, USA

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