As the biggest spectacle of popular participation in democracy, elections bring to the surface a myriad range of activities from caste, ethnic and regional faultlines to means of bridging differences. The recent Lok Sabha elections have once again invoked a national imagining sorely lacking in the earlyier fractured verdicts ! Does this mean that the cracks in the polity have been filled ? Are we all agreed on a convergent path of neoliberal development ? Any thoughts ?
Is this perhaps a cue to talk about communalism, the politicisation of religious identity, and the collapse of a grand narrative of secular modernity? I think these are topics fashionable amongst anthropologists, because they are amenable to ethnographic research practices in ways that quantitative analysis of polling behaviour might not be (which I admit might well bore me silly, however useful it might be). Bearing this in mind, might anthropologists be unwittingly contributing to a skewed view of the democratic polity in India (for themselves if not for other audiences which may have little interest in their proclamations)?