Sunil Bastian

Can democracy be designed?

Can democracy be designed?(2003) Co-editor, Can Democracy be Designed? London: Zed Books.

There are no single unequivocal answers to the question this book addresses. Yet these highly informed original contributions on the politics of institutional design offer a wealth of insights into the kind of processes that have led to recent successes and failures on the democratization front.'
Martin Dcarnbas, Institute of social Studies, the Hague
Constitution making for democracy has always been a highly political and contested process. It has never been more ambitious, or more difficult, than today as politicians and experts attempt to build democratic institutions that will foster peace and stability in countries torn by violent conflict.
The extended investigation out of which this book has grown ranges across three continents. Is examines such apparently intractable cases as Bosnia-Herzegovina, Sri Lanka and Fiji, as well as apparent 'success stories' like South Africa, Ghana and Uganda.
Three groups of questions are explored:

  • How and by whom were democratic institutions (re) designed:
  • How have they functioned in practice: what has been  the relationship between democratic institutions and democratic politics:
  • How have they measured up to the pressures placed on them by ongoing violence, poverty, globalization and demorcatisation itself?

This thoughtful and empirical set of explorations is highly relevant to other societies wrestling with similar problems of institutional design in situations of democratic transition and/or deep-seated social conflict. 


Sustaining a state in conflict: Politics of foreign aid in Sri Lanka, Colombo:ICES, (2018) Sustaining a state in conflict: Politics of foreign aid in Sri Lanka, Colombo:ICES, (2018)
This study focuses on politics of foreign aid to Sri Lanka from developed countries of the West, Japan and multilateral agencies during the period 1977 to end of the armed conflict in 2009. This period is characterised by economic policies that emphasised liberal economic policies and an armed conflict resulting from the Tamil demand for a separate state. The study looks at politics of foreign aid in this context. Foreign aid played a dual role. It helped to sustain a state engaged in an armed conflict, while at the same time trying to promote a negotiated settlement. Therefore it was neither a do-gooder that liberals tend to believe nor a 'foreign devil that Sinhala nationalists like to see.

Assessing participation - A debate from south asia Assessing participation - A debate from south asia
(1997) Co-editor, Assessing Participation: A Debate from South Asia. New Delhi: ITDG/Konark Publishers.

The politics of foreign Aid in Sri Lanka The politics of foreign Aid in Sri Lanka
(2007) Politics of foreign aid in Sri Lanka, Promoting markets and supporting peace. Colombo: International Centre for Ethnic Studies.

Devolution and Development in Sri Lanka Devolution and Development in Sri Lanka
(1994) Editor, Devolution and Development. New Delhi: Konark Publishers.


Covid-19 and Sri Lanka

(1999) The Failure of State Formation, Identity Conflict and Civil Society Responses – The Case of Sri Lanka.

(2003) The Politics of Electoral Reform - Proportional Representation of Sri Lanka.

Crisis - Another view


Post-war capitalism

Post 2015 Presidential Election-Some thoughts

Copyright @ 2023 Sunil Bastian.