State of Democracy in South Asia-I
State of Democracy in South Asia (SDSA) was the first collaborative effort of its kind to carry out a base line evaluation of the democratic enterprises in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka by using multiple methodologies: Sample survey, Qualitative assessment, Case studies and Dialogues. The three-year study was started in 2004. The State of Democracy in South Asia report was published in November 2007 by Oxford University Press
The State of Democracy in South Asia report was published by Oxford University Press in November 2007. For further information/ purchasing the report visit:
The State of Democracy in South Asia project is an attempt to answer the question: Is a South Asian imagination of Democracy available for reconstruction? It adopts an approach that integrates insights from several worlds that of the academic as well as that of the activist.
What emerges is that democracy is part of the political common sense of South Asia. The interpretative challenge was there to see how it has become this common sense. The study sees democracy not just as an anti-colonial project but also as a modernizing project of transforming societies in South Asia. The nationalist and modernist lenses are thus important for looking at democracy in South Asia.
The project is thus an initiative to carry out a baseline evaluation of the democratic enterprise in the five South Asian countries of Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The project was based at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi and is funded by the European Union Cross Cultural Programme, Ford Foundation and the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), Stockholm.
The project seeks to answer the question: What has democracy done to South Asia and South Asia to democracy? It does not wish to suggest that there is a distinctive South Asian conception of democracy nor does it wish to accept uncritically the idea that there is single universal conception of democracy. The study recognizes that the working of democracy across the globe has plural practices yet these are connected through a set of core principles. The study hopes to have South Asia both illustrate the working of democratic institutions as well as problematize our understanding of that working. It uses four research pathways to do this: survey, case studies, qualitative assessment and dialogues on democracy.
The project has developed a network of scholars interested in an empirically grounded theory of democracy in South Asia. It aims at collaborating with the East Asia barometer to evolve an Asia Barometer of democracy and finally a Global Barometer. These Barometers seek to investigate democracies in various parts of the world, by using the survey methodology to compare them and arrive at an understanding of the changing attitude to democracy in different regions of the world. Through this initiative, we expect to make a serious intervention in global debates about democracy.