Most South Asian countries-following independence from British rule in the late nineteen forties, and in the case of Nepal, liberation from the autocracy of one family group in 1950-have enjoyed democratic systems of governance at least at some time or the other, often for extended periods of time, and, in a few cases, over the course of their post-independence history. Electoral processes have, however, been found wanting to greater or lesser extents in all these countries. Electoral malpractices are of critical concern to all South Asian countries. It is in this background that the International Centre for Ethnic Studies, Kandy,Sri Lanka, with funding from the Ford Foundation, organized in 2002, an international conference on electoral processes and governance in South Asia. The South Asian countries selected for study were Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, and papers were presented by experts in the area of electoral processes and governance in these countries. This book, based on the papers originally presented at that conference, seeks to understand electoral processes as they actually operate in South Asia, to discuss the reasons for the flaws in these systems and the degrees of success or failure in attempts at reform.
Dushyantha Mendis is Director, International Centre for Ethnic Studies (ICES). He has degrees in Economics and Law and is a Sri Lankan Attorney-at-Law. He has held senior management positions in Sri Lanka's private sector and also briefly practiced Law prior to joining the ICES in 2002. His research interests lie in economic history, governance issues and ethnic conflict. He has presented several papers on these topics at many international conferences. He is editor of Ethnic Studies Report, XX, (Nos 1 & 2), 2002-Special Issue on 'Electoral Processes in South Asia: Statutory Framework and Institutional Arrangements'. He is a contributor to and editor of Christians and Spices: The Portuguese in Sri Lanka and Goa (forthcoming) and is also currently engaged in researching and writing a work on the economic history of Sri Lanka.