Speaker: Prof. Zoya Hasan
The 75th anniversary of Indian Independence is a landmark event in the history of our democracy. It is for this reason a significant moment to assess the state of India’s democracy. As the largest democracy in the non-western world, India’s general election is the largest exercise of popular will in any country. Elections certainly are a climactic moment of the democratic process but there’s more to democracy than holding regular elections. What happens between elections is as important as what happens in elections. Politics beyond elections is central to understanding the challenges facing Indian democracy, and it is important, therefore, to contextualize democracy. Three years since the BhartiyaJanata Party (BJP) government was re-elected has seen the consolidation of the process begun in 2014 – the establishment of a majoritarian nation-state. This process is facilitated by the shift in political discourse from secularism and social justice to majoritarian notions of politics and society. The three transformations that have changed Indian democracy are the consolidation of a majoritarian brand of politics; the shrinking space for dissent and the corporatization of politics. This paper talk traced these transformations through an exploration of the social and political dynamics of democracy focusing on the impact of these three overlapping developments on Indian democracy. Each of these issues is significant in its own right when taken together constitutes a major challenge to our democracy. The seminar was held on 13th October 2022.