English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

The historical roots of democracy in India are well worth considering, if only because the connection with public arguments is often missed, through the temptation to attribute the Indian commitment to democracy simply to the impact of British influence.

For context — this is taken from Amartya Sen's speech (PDF).

share|improve this question
Also, is this sentence correct or incorrect? I copied it ditto from the source. The author is a noble Laureate. – bubble Jul 18 '11 at 10:26
@JoseK I have taken it from book "The Argumentative Indian" – bubble Jul 18 '11 at 10:59
ah okay. he quotes his book in that speech as well – JoseK Jul 18 '11 at 11:04
I am happy to learn that I am not a total dumb as many people are trying to decipher it.. :) – bubble Jul 18 '11 at 11:06
+1 for you not being a total dumb :-) – Daniel Jul 18 '11 at 12:00
up vote 5 down vote accepted

I think the comma after missed is confusing the meaning. I read this as:

  1. It is worthwhile considering the historical origins of Indian democracy.
  2. It is worthwhile, even if all you gain is an understanding of the connection to (current) public arguments.
  3. This connection is often missed because people assume that the Indian commitment to democracy only came from the British influence.
share|improve this answer

This sentence makes me cry. We can split this sentence up into:

It's worth it to consider the historical roots of democracy in India


People don't often take it (the historical roots of democracy in India) into consideration in arguments (as in, 'debate' or any attempt to make a point about the roots of democracy or democracy itself.)


People think that Indian democracy is ONLY because of the British influence, and no other interesting factors.

Taken together, the author is saying that the roots of democracy in India was caused by many more factors than simply the British influence (since the British colonized India and are a democratic nation). The author encourages looking into these extra factors so that people are aware of them when discussing democracy in India.

share|improve this answer
+1 Just for the first sentence. People who write this way don't really know what they are getting at, and are just trying to cover that fact up with excessive verbiage in hopes it looks like they know what they are talking about. – T.E.D. Jul 18 '11 at 12:07

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.