ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Managing Elections in the World’s Largest Democracy

Election Commission of India: Institutionalising Democratic Uncertainties by Ujjwal Kumar Singh and Anupama Roy, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, pp 384, 1,100 (hardcover).


As much as elections are essential for sustaining democracy, the humongous challenge of managing the governance of elections in a populous country such as India often goes unnoticed. Enormous efforts have been made in India to organise, sustain and entrench free and fair elections right from the first election; the country having conferred itself with universal adult franchise, put in place a robust electoral machinery and struggled against deep-rooted social hierarchies. Along the way, the country has sustained its democratic focus amidst the vagaries of politics accompanying the second democratic upsurge (Yadav 1996), and proliferation of political parties. At the centre of this long and challenging journey has been the Election Commission of India (ECI), which is the institution established by the Constitution of India to ‘‘superintend, direct and control’’ the conduct of elections.

It is the journey taken by the ECI that the monograph traces with rigour and lucidity. Ujjwal Kumar Singh and Anupama Roy narrate the struggles faced by the ECI in ‘‘institutionalising procedural certainties’’ for facilitating “uncertainty in electoral outcomes.” In doing so, they highlight the critical role that the ECI plays in nurturing democracy, and turn the spotlight on the critical contribution of democratic institutions. This is a timely intervention, given that democratic institutions all over the world have come under intense scrutiny in recent times. The arguments put forward in the book have been supported with evidence emerging from extensive archival research of election reports, interviews with electoral officers and systematic study of election laws and court judgments. We recommend this book as an informative reading for scholars, students and practitioners who are interested to know more about the functioning of the Election Commission, and the journey that the institution has traversed over time.

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Updated On : 31st Jan, 2021
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