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Majoritarianism is a pushback against political mobilisation by the marginalised: Thomas Blom Hansen

Why do parties with ideologies corrosive to basic democratic values - liberty, equality, and fraternity - enjoy democratic endorsements in India and elsewhere? An easy observation is that there is popular attraction for ‘strong’ leaders, free-market policies, and promises of ‘regaining lost glory’. Thomas Blom Hansen, Reliance-Dhirubhai Ambani Professor and Chair, Department of Anthropology, Stanford University, U.S., and a scholar on Hindu nationalism, decodes the electoral success of majoritarianism to the multiple resentments created by deepening of democracies, which empowered marginalised groups but also created pushback from entrenched social hierarchies. These counter-acting forces, he points out, provides electoral space for such parties.

Prof. Hansen also explains how the Bharatiya Janata Party grew on criticisms of democratic expansion, why the Indian National Congress lost the political narrative, and the fallout of the Indian Left’s failure to read caste and communal dynamics. The “old secularism” in India, he asserts, “has run its course”. The way forward is to transcend mere “tolerance” of minorities, and “assertively embrace” India’s diversity “as it is lived and experienced by the majority”. Excerpts from a conversation with Saptarshi Bhattacharya, Senior Coordinator, The Hindu Centre for Politics and Public Policy, in Chennai on April 03, 2024:

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Verdict 2024 | Commentary

General Election 2024: Quo Vadis India?

India’s General Election to the 18 thLok Sabha (LS, the House of the People) has the makings of a high-stakes contest. The early decades saw the dominance the Indian National Congress (INC), even if its pan-India presence receded after the 4 th LS and State Elections in 1967. The politics of the INC touched its nadir during the Emergency (June 25, 1975 - March 21, 1977). Despite bouncing back in the 7 thLS (1980), after a non-Congress coalition in the 6 thLS (1977) fell apart, and then securing an all-time high majority for any party till date in the 8 thLS (1984), the INC is yet to reclaim the country’s political commanding heights. The era of coalitions/minority governments from the 9 thLS (1989) to the 15 thLS (2009) played two distinctive roles: it checked one-party dominance and ushered in politics of accommodation. This was reversed with the re-emergence of a single-party rule by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the 16 th and 17 th Lok Sabhas (2014 and 2019), under the premiership of Narendra Modi.

During this decade, disparate interests – religions, castes, classes; economic, social, geographical – were all sought to be coalesced under the rallying call: “One Nation, One...” (the second “One” periodically updated to incorporate a state or individual activity that would strike at India’s quasi-federal structure and diversity). The undercurrents that tugged India over the past 10 years are evident: the move towards a state that is majoritarian rather than plural; a government that favours big private capital to wider redistribution; and policies to benefit a few at the cost of the many. The election manifestoes of the prime contenders to power – the BJP and the INC – also delineate their ideological positions. The former promises to take forward its policies, propel India to the status of a developed country, and retains its sharp focus on cultural nationalism; the latter seeks a mandate to reverse divisive trends, with progress, equity, and inclusivity as the touchstones of its politics and policy-making.

Against this backdrop, Diego Maiorano, Senior Assistant Professor of Indian History and Politics at the University of Naples L’Orientale, comments on what the decade that has gone by meant for India’s political journey, its collective mindset, and its democratic institutions of state. He also flags the larger issues that the world’s largest electorate must contend with when it votes in the 18th LS election, scheduled to be held in seven phases from April 19 to June 01, 2024.


Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Indian National Congress Election Manifesto

The Indian National Congress released its election manifesto for the 2024 Lok Sabha Elections. Reiterating the party’s stand on affirmative action, the document said that if voted to power, the party would remove the 50 per cent cap on reservations and also implement one-thirds reservation for women in Assemblies from 2025 and the Lok Sabha from 2029. Besides, it would hold a nationwide socio-economic and caste census and accord legal guarantee to MSP for crops as per Swaminathan Commission. The document can be accessed by clicking the link below.

Lok Sabha Elections 2024: DMK Election Manifesto

“The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) is the first party in India to have created a tradition of publishing a manifesto before every General Election –

ECI: Schedule for 18th Lok Sabha Election and State Elections for Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha, and Sikkim

Elections to the 18th Lok Sabha and four State Legislative Assemblies (Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha, and Sikkim) will be held between Apr

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‘India’s historically shaped pluralism not easy to dislodge; diversity always part of its landscape’: Rajeev Bhargava

India’s plural tradition, safeguarded by a constitutional commitment to a secular democracy, is going through challenging times. The founding ideals o

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COVID-19 Compendium: Official Information on COVID-19 Released by India and the WHO [HTML and PDF]

An up-to-date compilation of more than 1,800 official statements by the Government of India from January 17, 2020. Links to articles published by The

The Law of Sedition and India: An Evolutionary Overview

Article 124A, characterised aptly by the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, as the “prince among the political sections of the Indian Penal Code de

Policy Report No. 27

Farmer Producer Companies: Preliminary Studies on Efficiency and Equity from Maharashtra

In recent years, the concept of Farmer Producer Company (FPC) has gained the attention of researchers. Though relatively new in India and still in an emerging phase in Maharashtra, these FPCs are being viewed as a possible replacement for the old cooperative model and taken the form of new movement. The formation of FPCs in the districts of Maharashtra began in 2015 under the Maharashtra Agricultural Competitiveness Project (MACP). In Osmanabad and Solapur districts of Maharashtra, FPCs have been in operation for the past three years. As FPCs gained the attention and participation of the farmers it becomes pertinent to study their formation and performance.  This Policy Report attempts to look at the FPCs in Solapur and Osmanabad districts of Maharashtra to ascertain the level of inclusiveness and participation of the various categories of farmers in the running of the company. The study points out that caste and family hierarchies continue to hold a grip on ownership patterns, albeit in the early days of the FPCs. However, it can be said that the FPCs have the potential to overcome the difficulties faced by the farmers in selling their produce directly in the conventional market arising out of rigid vertical coordination of the middlemen based on the experiences of the farmers with the producer company model.The Report also includes an analysis of the new policy on the FPCs and attempts to assess the differences between the old cooperative Act and new Farmer Producer Companies Act. [PDF 829 KB]

Background Note No.7

Public Policy and the Child in Tamil Nadu

The Hindu Centre for Politics and Public Policy and UNICEF, Chennai, organised a Round Table on Public Policy and the Child in Tamil Nadu on September 02, 2017 (Saturday), at Kasturi Buildings, 859 & 860, Anna Salai, Chennai. The aim of the Round Table was to take stock of the extent to which the State’s policies have contributed to and shaped childhood. Covering the ages of 0 to 18 years, the discussions at the Round Table explored the relationship between the state and the child in Tamil Nadu, which is critical for the quality of life for children. Papers were invited from the participants at the Round Table on the following themes: 1. Policy and Fiscal Space in Tamil Nadu 2. Education and Health 3. The Disadvantaged Child, and 4. Social Spaces for the ChildThis Background Note contains the Concept Note and the 10 papers that were presented and discussed at the Round Table. Feedback and comments may please be sent to [email protected] Click here to download the Background Note [PDF 3.72 MB]