The Advocacy of Democratic Governance by India and China: Patterns of Consistency/Inconsistency between Declaratory and Operational Practice

Publication Date: 
01 January 2015
Publication Language: 
Appearing in: 
India Quarterly

This article examines the patterns of consistency and inconsistency between how India and China advocate democratisation at the global and national levels. Addressing this question through a dualistic framework, we develop a detailed map of the rhetorical promotion of democratic governance by India and China through an analysis of 10 years of foreign affairs speeches, remarks, interviews and statements of political elites of both countries. The article argues that although China has not shied away from declarations on democracy domestically as well as on global governance, the contradictions between the clear and consistent push for democracy and equity at the global level and the highly contingent commitment to democracy at the national level remain highly salient. India’s deficiencies, by way of contrast, come not in the domain of legitimacy but effectiveness. India’s struggle to translate its domestic democratic credibility into more equitable representation at the global institutional level and into a stellar economic model at the domestic level exposes it to criticism in relationship to China. Yet, even with these gaps, the article concludes that India has some comparative advantages over China precisely because it can play a consistent two-level game in terms of the promotion of democracy both at global and state levels.