Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Heller in Indian Express: civil-political conflict essential to democracy

November 7, 2012

Anti-corruption activist Arvind Kejriwal at a press conference in New Delhi last month. Photo: European Pressphoto Agency

Patrick Heller observes the "creative tension" between political and civil society in today's Indian Express, India's leading English-language daily. Noting several weeks of increasingly dramatic conflict between the activist group India Against Corruption (IAC) and the political establishment, Heller warns against giving up on civil society as a critical component of democracy.

"Focusing on the conflict between an increasingly defensive political society (parties and state institutions) and an increasingly vocal and assertive civil society may be missing the larger point," writes Heller. Rather, we must recognize that civil and political society "are almost by definition in tension, but this can be healthy for democracy."