The Troubling State of India's Democracy

Subjects: Asian Studies, South/Southeast Asia, Political Science, Governance, Political Communication
Open Access : 9780472904655, 394 pages, 20 figures, 7 tables, 6 x 9, August 2024
Paperback : 9780472057016, 394 pages, 20 figures, 7 tables, 6 x 9, August 2024
Hardcover : 9780472077014, 394 pages, 20 figures, 7 tables, 6 x 9, August 2024
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Assessing the condition and potential trajectories of India’s democracy

Table of contents

Sumit Ganguly, Dinsha Mistree, and Larry Diamond
Part 1: Politics
Chapter 1: Electoral Trends and the State of the Party System
Eswaran Sridharan
Chapter 2: The State of the Two Major Parties: BJP and Congress
Eswaran Sridharan
Chapter 3: Regional Political Parties in India
Ashutosh Kumar
Chapter 4: Redefined Indian-ness and the Decline of India’s Democracy
Maya Tudor
Chapter 5: Trends in Public Support for Democracy
Vinay Sitapati
Part 2: The State
Chapter 6: Federalism and Center-State Relations
Kanta Murali
Chapter 7: The State of the Supreme Court
Ronojoy Sen
Chapter 8: The Bureaucracy
Yamini Aiyar
Chapter 9: The State of the Police
Arvind Verma
Chapter 10: Investigative Agencies
Ajay Mehra
Chapter 11: Modi’s Mixed Record as an Economic Reformer
John Echeverri-Gent, Aseema Sinha, and Andrew Wyatt
Part 3: Society
Chapter 12: NGOs and Civil Society
Rahul Mukherji
Chapter 13: Ethnic and Religious Tensions
Thomas Blom Hansen
Chapter 14: Hindutva, Caste, and State Vigilantism
Christophe Jaffrelot
Chapter 15: Indian News Media
Taberez Neyazi
Chapter 16: Social Media in Elections: Modi and After
Joyojeet Pal
List of Contributors


As India’s power and prominence rise on the international stage, its longstanding tradition of democracy is under threat. Since establishing a secular and democratic constitution in 1950, India has held elections at the local, state, and national levels with frequent transitions of power between opposing parties. This commitment to democracy has provided political order to a country that is twice the size of Europe and with a stunning array of social and economic divides. 

Despite this rich tradition, India’s democracy faces an unprecedented threat with the rise of Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist party, the Bharatiya Janata Party. After decisively winning general elections in 2014, Modi and the BJP have pursued a range of anti-democratic policies in which the state and society are used to undermine the opposition, to stifle free speech, and to harass religious minorities. The Troubling State of India’s Democracy brings together leading scholars from around the world to assess the conditions of India’s democracy across three important dimensions: politics, specifically the state of political parties and the party system; the state, including the condition of federalism and the health of various institutions; and society, including NGOs, ethnic and religious tensions, and control of the media. Even though elements of India’s democracy seem to function—like its commitment to elections—the contributors document a disturbing trajectory, one that not only threatens to undermine India’s own stability, but could also affect the global order.

Šumit Ganguly is Distinguished Professor of Political Science and holds the Tagore Chair in Indian Cultures and Civilizations at Indiana University, Bloomington. He is also a Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.
Dinsha Mistree is Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution.
Larry Diamond is William L. Clayton Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and Mosbacher Senior Fellow in Global Democracy at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University.

The Troubling State of India's Democracy is engaging, thought-provoking, and interrogative as the authors have shown acumen and capacity to weave a range of diverse issues that expeditiously portray the ground realities of India’s democracy. Authors of the chapters shift our gaze, in other words, by trying to change the terms of reference for understanding the political complexities that grip India today.”

- Surinder Mohan, University of Jammu

The Troubling State of India's Democracy, edited by Šumit Ganguly, Dinsha Mistree, and Larry Diamond, is a timely and frank analysis of the decline of Indian democracy over the last decade. While the overall picture the essays in this book paint is deeply worrisome, the essays are reader friendly and engaging. The book also offers hope that growing pockets of resistance could, some day, reverse the decline. The book should be read by anyone interested in India, including in its place in the geopolitics of the coming decades.”

- Raghuram Rajan, University of Chicago Booth School of Business