An Introduction, our beginnings, our work
Lokniti - Programme for Comparative Democracy was established in 1997 as a research programme of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), New Delhi. The CSDS is an autonomous social science research institution. Since the inception of the CSDS in 1963, the writings of scholars like Rajni Kothari, D.L. Sheth and Ashis Nandy have become a point of reference for various attempts from the South to question the global establishment view of democracy. The CSDS has argued in favour of a more humane holistic view of democracy that goes beyond democratic institutions ad processes in their arrow sense and emphasises the survival of dissent and cultural contents of the civil society as central concerns of democracy.
The CSDS can be said to have pioneered large-scale empirical studies of the social and cultural basis of politics in South Asia. It also participated in empirical studies of politics in Africa, South America and East Europe at a time when many of these societies were relatively inaccessible. Outside Europe and North America, the CSDS Data Unit holdings might constitute one of the largest archive of social scientifically reliable survey data on political behaviour and attitudes, spanning more than four decades.
Lokniti has the following objectives:
Monitoring on a regular basis the working of Indian democracy with special attention to the participation of marginalized people,
Developing a comparative understanding of democratic polities in different historical and cultural settings,
Engaging with scholars in other parts of the world with a view to creating an alternative to the dominant perspective on democracy in a global context, and
Training a new generation of scholars and public intellectuals who can intervene in the discourse on democracy.
By bringing various projects of the CSDS on elections and party politics together under a single programme, Lokniti seeks to engage with the global debates on democracy. In an age where globalisation of democracy has come to mean a universalisation of a thin checklist model of managerial governance and cultural homogenisation, the worth of a participatory model of plural democracy, a model that recognises multiple paths to realising the rich ideals of democracy, cannot be over-emphasised.
Lokniti is run as an autonomous research programme of the CSDS. Its activities are funded through various project grants. Its affairs are administered by the following
- Prof. D.L. Sheth, Chairperson
- Prof. Ghanshyam Shah
- Prof. Sanjay Kumar
- Prof. Rajeev Bhargava
- Prof. Suhas Palshikar
- Prof. V. B. Singh
- Prof. Shail Mayaram
Lokniti Faculty comprises of :