Dissent as an act of faith

India's Politics:
A view from the backbench
by Bimal Jalan
Penguin/Viking, 2007

William Fulbright's notion of expressing differences in a democracy as a matter of conviction has found fruition in Bimal Jalan's latest book, India's Politics: A view from the backbench. The advantage of being a 'backbencher' is the benefit of a panoptic view – a view that Jalan, the former Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, underwrites as an inevitable one for every keen observer of India's economy and politics. This view is reminiscent of a simultaneous use of the methodologies of participant and non-participant observation, and proves the importance of reminding ourselves that, as Jalan writes, "neither democracy nor economic resurgence can be taken for granted".

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Himal Southasian