The Rajni Kothari Chair in Democracy: An Introduction
From the very beginning, much of CSDS’ work has focused on democratic politics, addressing a broad range of issues.
Some of them have been:
• the analysis of Indian electoral politics and surveys around vital political and cultural issues with a comparative perspective;
• re-evaluation of the diversity in democratic politics and practices ;
• study of party systems, political processes and movements outside the formal institutions of democracy; and
• the exploration of the role of institutions of democracy and their salience in promoting rights, justice, and development.
These studies reflect alternative formulations of politics and explore unorthodox ways of studying political theory. The Rajni Kothari Chair in Democracy is intended to be a major step towards nurturing this tradition. The Centre initiated the Chair in 2002 to make it a definitive referent for a discourse on democracy. The Chair is an invited position.
The objectives of the Chair are:
• to facilitate research in the area of comparative democracy by a scholar of eminence, leading to significant publications.
• to enable her/him to interact with scholars, political activists, and civil society groups in India with a view to strengthening the ideas and institutions of democracy.
The Chair was supported by grants from the Ford Foundation and the Sir Ratan Tata Trust in 2002 and 2003 respectively.
In line with the Centre’s multi-disciplinary approach towards social science research, Kothari Chairs have come from political science, philosophy, anthropology, and history. The first Chair was Douglas Lummis, the Okinawa-based scholar of democracy who joined CSDS on 20 August 2004 and stayed till 10 December 2005. Since then, Ramin Jahanbegloo (2005-07), Sudipta Kaviraj (2008), Gananath Obeyesekere (2009), Raunaq Jahan (2010), Abdellah Hammoudi (2010), Charles Taylor (2011), Arif Dirlik (2011), Shahid Amin (2012-13) and Alfred Stepan (2014) have held the Kothari Chair.