A RIVETING ACCOUNT OF HOW A POPULARLY ELECTED LEADER HAS STEERED THE WORLD’S LARGEST DEMOCRACY TOWARD AUTHORITARIANISM AND INTOLERANCE
Over the past two decades, Hindu nationalism has been coupled with a form of national-populism that has proved to be potent at the polls—first in Gujarat and then in India at large. One man has been the driver of this change: Narendra Modi. He evolved a highly personalized political style, seducing Indians with the promise of development on the one hand and polarizing the electorate along ethno-religious lines on the other. Both facets of his particular national-populism were communicated directly to voters through numerous and diverse channels of communication that have come to saturate the public space.
Drawing on original interviews conducted across India, Christophe Jaffrelot shows how Modi’s government has moved India toward a new form of democracy: an ethnic democracy that equates the majoritarian community with the nation and relegates Muslims and Christians to second-class citizens who are fair targets for vigilante groups. This muscular Hindu nationalism thrives on attacks against secularists, intellectuals, universities, and NGOs. Jaffrelot explains how the political system of India has acquired authoritarian features for other reasons too. Eager to govern not only in New Delhi, but also in the states, the government has centralized power at the expense of federalism and undermined institutions that were part of the checks and balances.
Modi’s India is a sobering account of how a once-vibrant democracy has gone wrong.
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