Alfred Stepan: The Theravada Buddhist Puzzle

Rajni Kothari Lectures are instituted in honour of the CSDS Founder Director Professor Rajni Kothari. Earlier speakers in the series include Professors Charles Douglas Lummis, Ramin Jahanbegloo, Sudipta Kaviraj, Gananath Obeysekere, Rounaq Jahan, Abdellah Hammoudi, Charles Taylor, Arif Dirlik and Shahid Amin.

The founding doctrines of Theravada Buddhism of the Buddha and Emperor Asoka were inclusive, tolerant and non-violent. But, the central puzzles this talk attempted to address were: Why, the longer democracy continued, and the more elections determined political power, did violence increase in Theravada Buddhist Ceylon, Burma, and Thailand?  Why, in all three of these countries did the ethno-religious-linguistic majority end up in violent civil wars with their minority populations and the erosion of democracy?

Alfred Stepan is the Wallace Sayre Professor of Government at Columbia and previously the Gladstone Professor of Government at Oxford University and a Fellow of All Souls College. He received the Karl Deutch Award of the International Political Science Association in 2012.

His numerous books, which have been translated into over a dozen languages, include Problems of Democratic Transition and Consolidation with Juan Linz and Crafting State Nations: India and Other Multinational Democracies with Juan Linz and Yogendra Yadav.

Rajeev Bhargava is Professor at Centre for the Study of Developing Societies.

Friday, 2 May 2014
CSDS Seminar Room