Ornit Shani tells the untold story of the preparation of the electoral roll on the basis of universal adult franchise in the world’s largest democracy and offers a new view of the way democracy captured the political imagination of its diverse peoples.
Indians became voters before they were citizens-by the time the constitution came into force in 1950, the notion of universal franchise and electoral democracy were already grounded. Drawing on rich archival materials, Shani shows how the Indian people were a driving force in the making of democratic citizenship as they struggled for their voting rights.
Ornit Shani is a scholar of the politics and modern history of India. Ornit received her PhD from the University of Cambridge. She was a Research Fellow at St. John’s College, Cambridge University. Her current research focuses on the modern history of democracy and citizenship in India. Her new book is How India Became Democratic: Citizenship and the Making of the Universal Franchise, Cambridge University Press, 2018 (South Asia edition with Penguin Random House). This book uncovers the greatest experiment in democratic history: the creation of the electoral roll and universal adult franchise in India. Ornit holds an Israeli Science Foundation (ISF) grant for her sequel project: ‘Embedding Democracy: the Social History of India’s First Elections’. Her other areas of research are the rise of Hindu Nationalism, identity and caste politics, communal and caste violence. She is the author of Communalism, Caste, and Hindu Nationalism: The Violence in Gujarat, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007.