Ornit Shani’s How India Became Democratic wins Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay NIF Book Prize for 2019

By A Correspondent
New Delhi: How India Became Democratic by Ornit Shani has won Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay NIF Book Prize for 2019. The book was published by Penguin Random House India.
In an interview, Shani told Arrackistan.com: “I am thrilled to be the recipient of the New India Foundation Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay Prize this year, especially in the face of the distinguished company I was with on the shortlist. It also reminds me of how inspiring it was to research this book in the archives. Liberal democratic institutions are being challenged and even attacked in many countries around the world, including in India. How India Became Democratic represents what India set itself to be at its founding: a democratic inclusive state for a deeply plural society. Preparing the electoral rolls on the basis of universal adult franchise, turning all adult Indians irrespective of their caste, class, gender, or religion into equal individuals for the purpose of authorising their government ahead of the constitution, was a concrete way of doing so.”
How India Became Democratic tells the untold story of the preparation of the electoral roll on the basis of universal adult franchise in the world’s largest democracy and offers a new view of the way democracy captured the political imagination of its diverse peoples.

Indians became voters before they were citizens—by the time the constitution came into force in 1950, the notion of universal franchise and electoral democracy were already grounded. Drawing on rich archival materials, Shani shows how the Indian people were a driving force in the making of democratic citizenship as they struggled for their voting rights.
About the Author
Ornit Shani is senior lecturer at the Department of Asian Studies, University of Haifa.

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