Army and Nation

Army and Nation: The Military and Indian Democracy since Independence (Harvard University Press, 2015)


In Army and Nation: The Military and Indian Democracy since Independence (Harvard 2015 and in India, Permanent Black 2015) I explore the reasons why India, unlike many other countries that inherited colonial ‘divide and rule’ armies, has been able to consolidate its democracy and make its army safe for democracy. The contrast with its neighbor Pakistan, which emerged from the same colonial Indian institutions, is especially instructive.

Reviews of Army and Nation

“…to understand the durability of our democracy, we need to explain why India never came close to experiencing military rule. This is the question that Steven Wilkinson sets out to answer in this brilliant book….Although a political scientist by training and orientation, Wilkinson has trawled deep and wide in a range of archives. In consequence, the book speaks as much to historians as political scientists. His presentation, however, is very lucid and easily accessible to the general reader. Indeed, his answer to the question posed above should command the attention of all thinking Indians….his superb analysis and presentation of quantitative material is one of the signal accomplishments of this book” Srinath Raghavan, The Telegraph (Kolkata) April 24 2015.

“…while Pakistan quickly slipped into a rhythm of juntas, India, with much the same colonial heritage, consolidated the world’s largest democracy. Why? Steven Wilkinson’s Army and Nation offers a new answer to that old puzzle. It is a story of what happens when armies fail to reflect the societies they defend, as well as a meditation on Juvenal’s famous question quis custodiet ipsos custodes?-who shall guard the guards?….As India raises 80,000 new troops to face down China, Wilkinson’s book is an excellent guide to the world’s biggest democratic army.” Shashank Joshi, Financial Times, February 13 2015.

“Wilkinson explores the contours of India’s unique success and Army and Nation is, perhaps, the most important book to come out on India’s armed forces in the recent years.” Sushant Singh, Indian Express, March 24 2015.

“India’s success in this regard is most striking when we compare our post-independence trajectory with that of Pakistan. Despite our shared history and culture, as part of the same British Raj, in one country the army has scrupulously stayed away from politics, whereas in the other it has actively intervened. A convincing interpretation of these divergent paths is provided in an impressive new book Army and Nation, by the Yale political scientist Steve Wilkinson….” Ramachandra Guha, Hindustan Times May 24 2015