India is a democracy… but not quite a democracy. It is a nation… but not really. These banal contradictions dominate any discussion of India’s political status. Research shows that concepts such as ‘democracy’, ‘nation’ and ‘citizenship’ are not particularly helpful in understanding India’s present or past. Despite attempts to make them more suitable to India's political realities (‘Indian democracy’, ‘Indian nation’ and so on), these terms actually say very little about India. It would seem that this debate, having gone on for centuries, will continue for a few more!