Is democracy driven by citizens or by the citizen elite? Acclaimed sociologist and author Dipankar Gupta argues that at every historical juncture when democracy made significant advances, it was the citizen elite, or the elite of calling, who led the charge, often going against the grain of popular demands and sentiments.
At its best, democracy does not reflect reality as much as it shapes and changes it. This requires active intervention by the citizen elite, who are not concerned with short-term electoral calculations but have a vision for strengthening democracy. They are the ones who set the agenda that the masses follow, thereby taking the country forward on the path of true democracy.
As India has not delivered meaningfully in terms of universal health, education and livelihood, it too needs a band of citizen elite to initiate change. Dipankar Gupta argues that this change cannot be contemplated through the short-term rationality of elections, and needs visionaries to push it through—change can only be effected by ‘revolution from above’.
Incisive and relevant, this book provides empirical evidence to show how urgent it is to take democracy forward, and explains how best to accomplish it in the light of international historical evidence.
Dipankar Gupta taught for nearly three decades at Jawaharlal Nehru University, in the Department of Sociology, and has held various visiting appointments at universities in Europe, Canada, the UK and the US. He has written and edited seventeen books. His most recent works are The Caged Phoenix: Can India Fly (2010) and Justice before Reconciliation: Negotiating a ‘New Normal’ in Post-riot Mumbai and Ahmedabad (2011). He is currently Distinguished Professor at Shiv Nadar University and Head of the Centre for Public Affairs and Critical Theory.