About two months ago I finished Ramachandra Guha's India After Gandhi, a thoroughly absorbing read and the best survey of post-independent India I know of. I'm not sure how he did it, but Guha seems to have managed mentioning just everything in a mere 900 pages. I first became familiar with him a few years ago when I found his This Fissured Land, An Ecological History of India while I was doing research for my own Dictionary of Flora and Fauna in the Pali Tipitaka. Anyway, in India After Gandhi, Guha mentions all the observers who have over the decades predicted that India would either fall to pieces or decline into dictatorship. And there have been many of them. Not only were they proved wrong, but they have been proved wrong yet again. Despite all the chaos, the corruption, the cronyism, the casteism, the crime and the crookedness, the Mother has held together and conducted free and fair (well, maybe not so fair in Bihar) elections for 62 years. Hundreds of millions of Indians are illiterate, but they treasure their right to vote and select the politicians who will rip them off. I mention this because the excuse the Communist Party of China always uses to suppress any political opinion other than the party line, is that if there is freedom in China the country will descend into a chaotic free-for-all and disintegrate. It isn’t true. India has remained unitary because of democracy, not in spit of it.Have a look at these great pictures of Indians exercising their right to vote.