CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT | DECEMBER 15, 2022
Grand Tamasha’s Best Books of the Year
The host of Carnegie’s podcast on Indian politics shares his three favorite reads from 2022.
CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT | DECEMBER 15, 2022
What Does It Mean to Be Asian American in California? (with Nitya Labh)
Discussions of the social attitudes and political prefer- ences of Asian Americans can often obscure the picture as much as they illuminate it. The community’s views are shaped by not only their place of birth but also by various other demographic factors such as ethnic/national heritage and generational divides.
CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT | NOVEMBER 3, 2022
What do Asian American Voters in California Want? (with Nitya Labh)
A narrow focus on the political clout of Asian Americans often obscures a more fundamental question: what exactly do Asian American voters want from their government?
CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT | OCTOBER 20, 2022
How Will California’s Asian Americans Vote in November? (with Nitya Labh)
Ahead of the midterms, a new Carnegie-YouGov poll reveals the political views of Asian American voters in California—one of the fastest-growing groups of voters in the nation’s largest state. While they lean Democratic, they also have lingering uncertainties about the party’s future.
HINDUSTAN TIMES | AUGUST 31, 2022
Corruption and Accountability
In many troubled democracies, the executive branch has altered the appointment powers of referee institutions, rewritten their constitutional mandates, or terminated meddlesome agencies. In India, however, many institutions have chosen to cede ground without formal legal or constitutional changes to their powers.
THE AGE | MAY 19, 2022
For Australia’s Indian-born Voters, Albanese in in Favour. For Now. (with Caroline Duckworth and Devesh Kapur)
As Australia heads to the polls, the country’s sizeable immigrant population is likely to substantially influence the outcome. Immigrants account for around 30 per cent of Australia’s population – the highest fraction among large, Western countries.
REDIFF | MARCH 30, 2022
BJP is insecure about the youth vote
They have to be seen as being responsive to the employment woes and economic stagnation afflicting many young people.
REDIFF | MARCH 25, 2022
NRC Could be the 21st Century Ram Janmabhoomi
The inability of the Modi government to deliver higher growth is its biggest Achilles’ heel, in my view. The Opposition’s challenge — and it is a big one — is to convince voters it could do better. Right now, the credibility gap is so large that many disappointed voters will continue voting for the BJP because they don’t believe any of the alternatives are substantially better.
HINDUSTAN TIMES | MARCH 19, 2022
For the Opposition, It’s a Moment of Reckoning
Locating answers to these questions will be difficult, especially since the BJP will hardly be content resting on its laurels. But the assembly results indicate that while the BJP occupies a comfortable pole position, there are signs of churn among their adversaries. This upheaval is essential for the future of political competition, not to mention the health of a vibrant democracy.
HINDUSTAN TIMES | MARCH 5, 2022
The Dismal Functioning of Democracy in India’s States
Last year, in a move that garnered domestic and international attention, pro-democracy groups Freedom House and the V-Dem Institute downgraded India’s democratic credentials on account of perceived backsliding. These twin moves sparked a heated conversation on the rise of majoritarianism, atrophying checks and balances, and increasing curbs on dissent at the national level.
REDIFF | FEBRUARY 2, 2022
Not Too Many Surprises, Not Too Many Gimmicks, And Welcome Consistency
Consistency is worth highlighting because one place where this government has often fallen short is on policy consistency. A lack of predictability has hurt investor sentiment and raised questions about the evenness of the playing field for firms.
DEMOCRACY JOURNAL | DECEMBER 15, 2021
The Challenge of India’s Democratic Backsliding
Since the end of the Cold War, once-frosty relations between the United States and India have blossomed into a wide-ranging, multifaceted strategic partnership. Although the two countries are not formal treaty allies, their diplomatic, defense, and developmental interests show signs of profound convergence.
THE GUARDIAN | NOVEMBER 23, 2021
Why are British-Indian Voters Abandoning Labour? (with Caroline Duckworth and Devesh Kapur)
British Indians, much like the rest of the country, are preoccupied with the economy and healthcare. Though disappointed with the record of Boris Johnson’s government, many are also critical of Labour policies. Indeed, the most common reason that British Indians do not identify with the Labour party is the perception that it is too influenced by socialism.
HINDUSTAN TIMES | NOVEMBER 9, 2021
How Pulwama Shaped 2019 (with Jamie Hintson)
If politics is considered a sport, then elections are India’s most cherished pastime. Constructing popular narratives about who won and who lost an electoral contest is an equal opportunity endeavor – pursued by the aam aadmi, voluble neta, and brainy analyst with equal vigor.
REDIFF | OCTOBER 6, 2021
There is Growing Concern in US about Democracy in India
There are three pillars of concern: The expansion of Hindu majoritarianism, the concentration of executive power and decay of independent institutions, and curbs on free expression and dissent.
TORONTO STAR | OCTOBER 1, 2021
Indo-Canadians tend to vote Liberal. But will they continue to do so? (with Caroline Duckworth and Devesh Kapur)
For years, the Indian community in Canada — much like other ethnic minorities — has been perceived as a strong votary of the Liberal party. But the community’s rising socio-economic profile and young demographic skew, combined with the emergence of the Indo-Canadian NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, have raised questions about its political leanings.
HINDUSTAN TIMES | AUGUST 7, 2021
Are voters delivering more decisive mandates? (with Jonathan Kay)
Contrary to conventional wisdom, a comparative study of elections since 1980 indicates that verdicts are, if anything, getting less decisive and election wins are becoming narrower
WASHINGTON POST | JUNE 10, 2021
Discrimination against Indian Americans happens more than you might think (with Sumitra Badrinathan, Devesh Kapur, and Jonathan Kay)
A new survey reveals 1 in 2 Indian Americans experienced recent discrimination, often on the basis of skin color.
HINDUSTAN TIMES | JUNE 9, 2021
For the diaspora, ties that bind — and divide (with Sumitra Badrinathan, Devesh Kapur, and Jonathan Kay)
Among Indian-Americans, criticism of India’s current trajectory is coupled with a deep commitment to the country’s success.
WASHINGTON POST | APRIL 30, 2021
Will voters hold Modi to account for India’s covid-19 crisis? Don’t bet on it.
While the outrage is real and the misery immense, the idea that voters will hold Modi to account is no sure bet.
FOREIGN AFFAIRS | MARCH 18, 2021
The Decay of Indian Democracy
India’s drop in the democracy league tables has less to do with the nature of its elections—which are largely free and fair—than with the shrinking democratic space between them.
HINDUSTAN TIMES | MARCH 7, 2021
For reforms, create a coalition of the willing (with Jonathan Kay)
Instead of big bang measures announced from Delhi, PM Modi should use his stature to create a coalition of like-minded states to pursue economic reforms
HINDUSTAN TIMES | FEBRUARY 10, 2021
On India, a fracture in the diaspora (with Sumitra Badrinathan and Devesh Kapur)
The Indian-American community is increasingly divided on political, religious, and generational lines. India will find that the more polarisation grows at home, the more its diaspora will become polarised, and one of the country’s strongest foreign policy assets will be increasingly less so.
HINDUSTAN TIMES | JANUARY 9, 2021
America’s democratic decay under Trump
January 6 was a result of weakened institutional norms, limited democratic accountability, politics based on personality cult and a broken information system.
HINDUSTAN TIMES | NOVEMBER 9, 2020
US: The end of a corrosive chapter
There is enormous relief at Donald Trump’s exit, but the elation is muted given the challenges
WASHINGTON POST | OCTOBER 15, 2020
Why Indian Americans Are Not Becoming Republicans Any Time Soon (with Sumitra Badrinathan and Devesh Kapur)
Even if Indian Americans have not traditionally voted Republican, some media reports have speculated that the Democratic Party’s grip on the community could unravel in 2020 for at least two reasons.
HINDUSTAN TIMES | OCTOBER 15, 2020
Indian-Americans Are With Democrats (with Sumitra Badrinathan and Devesh Kapur)
On issues ranging from immigration to press freedom, the policy preferences of Indian-Americans line up remarkably well with those of the political Left. Indeed, the leading reason Democrats and independents cite for their aversion to the Republican Party is the latter’s intolerance of minorities.
CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL PEACE | SEPTEMBER 2020
On India’s Domestic Challenge
Pre-pandemic trends look likely to continue, centralizing more power in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government.
HINDUSTAN TIMES | JULY 1, 2020
The Double-speak of Parties on Foreign Funding
The latest crisis between China and India has set off an unseemly round of finger-pointing between the Bharatiya Janata Party and its principal national rival, the Congress, with both sides accusing the other of cozying up to the communist regime.
CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL PEACE | JUNE 25, 2020
To Stand Up to China, India Must First Boost Its Economy
India has been embroiled in a foreign policy crisis with China, after violent clashes along their mountainous border. But if Delhi really wants to get tough with Beijing, it must first ensure its economy is in fighting shape.
CENTER FOR THE ADVANCED STUDY OF INDIA | MAY 25, 2020
In India’s COVID-19 Response, Minimize Errors of Exclusion (with Devesh Kapur and Dawson Verley)
India’s unprecedented lockdown exposed deep issues in the government’s ability to care for its most precariously situated citizens. Yet, according to survey data, even among the most deprived people surveyed, the government has mechanisms to transfer essential goods and services.
HINDUSTAN TIMES | APRIL 28, 2020
It Is Time to Resume Political Activity (with Suyash Rai)
As the Indian government prepares to gradually dial down the economic freeze on May 3, politics, too, must emerge from its hibernation.
REDIFF | FEBRUARY 7, 2020
Modi Prioritised Hindu Majoritarianism Over Economy
Creating a Hindu-centric polity may appear to provide some benefits in the short run, but these benefits are far outweighed by the costs.
REDIFF | FEBRUARY 6, 2020
PM Has No Clear Roadmap for $5 Trillion Economy
The Modi government inherited many macro-economic problems that it has not expended much political capital on finding solutions for.
WASHINGTON POST | JANUARY 30, 2020
India’s Government Is Prioritizing Nationalism Over Economic Renewal
Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has long propagated two core ambitions: building a culturally Hindu-centric nation and aggressively advancing India’s economic development.
HINDUSTAN TIMES | DECEMBER 18, 2019
From Nation-State to State-Nation
India must think hard before uprooting the framework that makes it the envy of the world
HINDU | DECEMBER 6, 2019
Have Electoral Bonds Made a Bad System Worse?
By their design, electoral bonds legitimize opacity in how elections are funded. There is concern that electoral bonds could become vehicles for money laundering for shell companies, or for prohibited foreign donations.
HUFFPOST INDIA | NOVEMBER 25, 2019
Electoral Bonds: The Safeguards of Indian Democracy Are Crumbling
India’s electoral bonds have only legitimized opacity. The government has promised reform, while doubling down on nefarious old habits, and this new instrument has intensified the crisis confronting India’s much-vaunted apex institutions.
FOREIGN AFFAIRS | NOVEMBER 4, 2019
The Strange Triumph of Narendra Modi: Can India’s Prime Minister Succeed Even as the Economy Plummets?
In 2014, Modi came to power on the promise of an improved economy. As of 2019, India’s economic growth is slowing but Modi’s popularity appears to be intact. If the BJP cannot correct the course of the economy, it will eventually impact the BJP at the polls.
REDIFF | SEPTEMBER 25, 2019
Modi Buttered Trump Up Big Time
Critics assailed Modi’s speech for its personalism, but in the Trump era this is par for the course.
HINDUSTAN TIMES | SEPTEMBER 18, 2019
What the 2024 Battle May Look Like
The BJP is preparing for a third term. The Congress is still reeling from its loss of 2014.
CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT | JULY 2, 2019
Transforming State Capacity in India
Indian state institutions haven’t kept up with the country’s political and economic transformations. Now, India’s new government has three clear pathways to deliver much-needed reforms.
WASHINGTON POST | MAY 25, 2019
If It’s ‘The Economy, Stupid,’ Why Did Modi Win?
The question of leadership may have successfully diverted attention away from the state of the economy, but Modi’s honeymoon will be short-lived if he does not place it at the top of his agenda.
HINDUSTAN TIMES | MAY 23, 2019
Modi Owns the Win and the Aftermath
This election confirms what has been increasingly evident over the past five years: that the BJP, under Modi’s tutelage, has constructed a political hegemony that is impressively resilient.
CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT | MAY 15, 2019
Coalition Math Could Matter Most in India’s 2019 Election
In Indian politics, there are neither permanent friends nor permanent enemies. Both the BJP and Congress Party are doing the election math that would lead to a winning coalition.
FOREIGN AFFAIRS | MAY 6, 2019
The Battle for India’s Soul
Whichever side emerges victorious in May, the consensus in India is that the Nehruvian construct of secularism is dead—killed by its one-time supporters as much as by its dogged opponents. What will replace it is unclear.
CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT | APRIL 4, 2019
The BJP in Power: Indian Democracy and Religious Nationalism (editor)
The upsurge in Hindu nationalism ushered in by Modi’s government is reshaping Indian society, secularism, economics, and diplomacy.
WASHINGTON POST | APRIL 1, 2019
Indian Voters Are Looking For An Excuse To Back Modi. They May Have Found One.
The ordinary voter still views Modi as a compelling leader who is personally incorruptible. Modi’s pitch this election season is simple: He needs more than a single, five-year term to undo 65 years of corruption and administrative rot.
HINDUSTAN TIMES | MARCH 14, 2019
India’s Emerging Crisis of Representation
If federalism is the glue that has kept the world’s largest democracy together, there are growing signs that this adhesive is becoming unstuck.
REDIFF | FEBRUARY 11, 2019
‘Nationalism, not Hindutva Will Be the Big Theme for 2019’
The BJP government is getting nervous about its reelection chances, but the race remains the BJP’s to lose.
FOREIGN POLICY | FEBRUARY 10, 2019
Show Me the Money, India
Priyanka Gandhi, the Congress Party’s newest campaigner, may not actually contest elections, but she will likely narrow a funding gap in a country where winning votes costs serious money.
CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT | FEBRUARY 5, 2019
As Uttar Pradesh Goes, So Goes India (with Jamie Hintson)
The BJP will have a hard time replicating its 2014 performance in Uttar Pradesh this year. But as India’s biggest electoral prize, the state is make-or-break.
WASHINGTON POST | JANUARY 30, 2019
India’s Opposition Wants a Universal Basic Income. Does the Idea Stand a Chance?
Any large-scale income support program would require state capacity and fiscal resources. Unfortunately, both are in short supply in India.
CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT | JANUARY 15, 2019
The BJP’s East Coast Challenge (with Jamie Hintson)
India’s eastern seaboard accounts for one-quarter of the country’s population, and it represents the ruling party’s best chance to pick up new seats in the upcoming general election.
BBC | JANUARY 4, 2019
The Women Who Banned Alcohol (with Jamie Hintson)
Women in India are voting in record numbers, with profound implications for campaigning and policymaking in the country.
FOREIGN POLICY | DECEMBER 14, 2018
India’s Congress Party Rises From the Dead
Congress victories in three pivotal state elections provided much needed life to the moribund party.
CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT | NOVEMBER 12, 2018
Will Women Decide India’s 2019 Election? (with Jamie Hintson)
Seven decades after India gained independence, women are still woefully underrepresented as political candidates in state and national elections. Yet despite their gross underrepresentation as politicians in the upper echelons of India’s electoral system, women have made great strides as voters.
THE PRINT | OCTOBER 11, 2018
Congress Should Be Wary of Slipping to the Third Spot (with Jamie Hintson)
The Congress must stem its electoral bleeding, and also rejuvenate its atrophied party organization.
CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT | OCTOBER 8, 2018
Is the BJP India’s New Hegemon? (with Jayaram Ravi and Jamie Hintson)
The BJP’s emerging hegemony should not be conflated with electoral invincibility. As recent elections have demonstrated in states such as Bihar, Delhi, and Karnataka, the party is fallible.
HINDUSTAN TIMES | SEPTEMBER 25, 2018
House Must Act, but the Courts Cannot Absolve Themselves
India’s Supreme Court correctly ruled that only Parliament can disqualify candidates facing criminal charges. But both Parliament and the Court have a responsibility to address the criminalization of Indian politics.
REDIFF | SEPTEMBER 6, 2018
‘Demonetization Gives Modi A Powerful Narrative for 2019’
Why Prime Minister Modi’s demonetization gamble is unlikely to hurt his popularity ahead of the 2019 elections.
HINDUSTAN TIMES | AUGUST 13, 2018
Incumbency In India: More Curse Than Blessing? (with Matthew Lillehaugen)
The BJP is the front-runner in India’s 2019 elections, but its political standing suggests that dominance could be a liability rather than an asset.
HINDUSTAN TIMES | JULY 27, 2018
The Path to Reforms: Ensure Enforcement, Bring Clarity (with Devesh Kapur and E. Sridharan)
Electoral finance reforms could relax limits on expenditures, but should also feature full transparency with adequate verification and enforcement mechanisms.
TIMES OF INDIA | JULY 23, 2018
‘Most Advantageous Thing BJP Could Do Is Real Political Finance Reform…It Would Still Out-Fundraise Opponents’
While genuine political finance reform would be politically popular for the BJP, recent moves have done little to enhance transparency or dampen flow of black money.
HINDUSTAN TIMES | JULY 23, 2018
Power to the Rich: India Needs to Talk About Money in Politics
India is no stranger to the dilemma of money in politics, but this nexus has not been the subject of sustained scholarly attention.
HINDUSTAN TIMES | MAY 21, 2018
India’s Democracy Is More Delicate Than It Seems
Indian democracy is arguably the biggest loser of the recent drama-filled elections in Karnataka, which are likely to erode trust in the system and cause lasting damage to norms and institutions.
HINDUSTAN TIMES | MAY 15, 2018
Karnataka Election Results Confirm a Trend in Another Harsh Blow to Congress
The precarious position in which the Congress Party now finds itself belies the tremendous effort that it invested in the recent campaign in Karnataka.
HINDUSTAN TIMES | MAY 7, 2018
Is Higher Turnout Bad for Incumbents?
Voter turnout in India is not necessarily pro- or anti-incumbent; rather, the relationship between these two variables is likely shaped by the specific context at hand.
CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT | APRIL 16, 2018
From Cakewalk to Contest: India’s 2019 General Election
Although the intricacies of the upcoming race—such as the selection of candidates and the rhetoric of campaigns—remain unknown one year out, underlying structural conditions suggest far rockier terrain may lie ahead.
FOREIGN AFFAIRS | MARCH 1, 2018
An Indian Nightmare: Is New Delhi Ready for the Twenty-First Century?
In stark contrast to the boosterism surrounding a rising India, the outlines of a much darker alternative narrative are beginning to appear—one where the combined forces of urbanization and demography lead not to a rich dividend but to a social disaster.
MINT | FEBRUARY 20, 2018
India’s elite institutions are facing a credibility crisis
The recent tribulations of India’s election commission, reserve bank, and supreme court suggest that its apex institutions may not be as healthy as has traditionally been assumed.
THE PRINT | FEBRUARY 6, 2018
Don’t Believe the BJP and Congress Claims That They’re Cleaning Up Poll Funding
In an era when the Congress and the BJP can agree on next to nothing, they will gladly join hands to save their own skin—in this case, by changing a law that no longer exists.
INDIAN EXPRESS | JANUARY 8, 2018
Electoral Bonds Prize Anonymity, You Won’t Know Who’s Bought Them
Billed as a victory for transparency in political funding, electoral bonds are guaranteed to garner positive headlines. Upon closer inspection, however, the bonds appear to legitimize opacity in political finance rather than combat it.
THE PRINT | DECEMBER 19, 2017
Modi’s Going to Have a Much Tougher 2018 Than Anyone’s Expecting
The triumphant text, however, should not distract attention from the intriguing subtext: the Gujarat campaign suggests—and the BJP’s own behavior confirms—that the ruling party is vulnerable.
THE PRINT | NOVEMBER 24, 2017
Three Economists Went Around India Asking: Do You Call Yourself Middle Class?
The emergence of the Indian middle class has received much attention, but there’s no one authoritative way of defining what it means to be middle class.
MINT | OCTOBER 25, 2017
Doing Business in India: Myths and Realities
When the Doing Business report comes out this month, the nuances inherent in the data will likely be neglected by commentators looking to score points for one side or the other. Calmer heads should keep certain points in mind.
THE PRINT | SEPTEMBER 22, 2017
Rahul Gandhi’s U.S. Tour Can’t Change Fact That Congress Has No Clarity on Its Strategy
Despite efforts to criticize the BJP’s handling of identity politics and the economy, the Congress party has not yet addressed its need for strong leadership and a clear vision for the future.
INDIAN EXPRESS | SEPTEMBER 10, 2017
For BJP and Modi Government, Dominance and Doubt in an Uncomfortable Embrace
Unable to campaign on the economic growth it had expected, the BJP is crafting an alternative narrative for 2019 emphasizing economic stability, efforts to curb black money, and the absence of high-level corruption.
FOREIGN AFFAIRS | AUGUST 16, 2017
India at 70 (with Madhav Khosla)
Seventy years ago, independent India was born. Having shaken off the yoke of the British Empire, the country embarked on what was—and remains—the world’s most radical democratic experiment.
FOREIGN AFFAIRS | AUGUST 3, 2017
India’s Opposition Heads for the Hills
The recent upheaval in Bihar is only the latest signal that the BJP is the new center of political gravity in a country long controlled by the storied Nehru-Gandhi dynasty of the Congress Party.
MINT | MAY 15, 2017
Weak Public Institutions Behind India’s Low State Capacity
As India’s challenges mount, the need for institutional reform is vital if the country is to build and sustain an Indian state for the 21st century.
HINDUSTAN TIMES | MARCH 30, 2017
Finance Bill Makes Funding For Political Parties More Opaque Than Ever
There is a dramatic mismatch between what ails political finance in India and the government’s “reform” measures. The budget presentation and its new amendments have made political funding less transparent.
NDTV | MARCH 23, 2017
Adityanath, No Stranger To Criminal Cases, Promises Safer UP
While Indians should be heartened by any decline in the level of political criminality, there are good reasons to treat this data with caution, especially in the case of Uttar Pradesh.
FOREIGN AFFAIRS | MARCH 15, 2017
Modi’s Victory and the BJP’s Future
In an outcome that shocked analysts, an alliance led by India’s BJP Prime Minister Narendra Modi won 325 out of the 403 seats on offer in the state assembly election in Uttar Pradesh.
INDIAN EXPRESS | FEBRUARY 16, 2017
Let Justice Flow (with Ananth Padmanabhan)
By investing in innovative “DigiProcedures,” the Indian court system can provide more rapid resolutions to disputes.
YALE BOOKS UNBOUND (BLOG) | FEBRUARY 16, 2017
Criminal Politicians on the World Stage
While there is still a lot of uncertainty in terms of how the elections in Uttar Pradesh will unfold, it is clear that criminal politicians will remain on the prowl.
QUARTZ | FEBRUARY 1, 2017
Crafty Indian Politicians Can Game the New Political Funding Rules Even in Their Sleep (with Rebecca Brown)
While the reforms to political finance announced as part of the India’s 2017 Budget are a step in the right direction, they will do little to change the reality of non-transparent political funding.
INDIAN EXPRESS | JANUARY 6, 2017
Purify the Parties
Prime Minister Modi has pitched demonetization as a fight against corruption in India. But to truly free politics from black money, the government must take concrete steps to reform political finance.
DIPLOMAT | JANUARY 4, 2017
A Familiar Story: Donald Trump and India’s Criminal Politicians
In India, distrust of government and social cleavages encourage voters to support those who bend the rules to defend their communities. Similar conditions in the United States contributed to Trump’s election.
DEMOCRACY AUDIT UK (BLOG) | DECEMBER 13, 2016
Why Do Voters Back Corrupt and Dishonest Politicians?
Rather than being uninformed, voters in India strategically elect politicians who are tied to criminal activity.
FT ALPHAVILLE (BLOG) | NOVEMBER 28, 2016
Why India’s Demonetization Alone Won’t End Dirty Money in Politics
Demonetization alone is not enough to end dirty money in Indian politics. Modi must also close legal loopholes, tie tax breaks to political parties with transparency, and directly attack the underlying drivers of the black economy.
NDTV | NOVEMBER 9, 2016
President Trump’s Question Marks Extend to India
What will reassure friends abroad the most is America’s ability to get its own house in order, something that is-frankly-a question mark under a President Trump. America’s credibility has come under intense fire during this election. But what hurts even more? So has its character.
QUARTZ | NOVEMBER 9, 2016
Modi’s Crackdown on Black Money Is Bad News for Political Parties, Including the BJP
Some 75 percent of the money going to political parties is from undocumented sources. Modi’s crackdown on black money will therefore be hugely disruptive for the upcoming elections in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh.
MINT | NOVEMBER 7, 2016
BJP’s ‘Five-Layer Cake’ Strategy in Uttar Pradesh
For the election in Uttar Pradesh, the Bharatiya Janata Party is relying on nationalism, Hindu majoritarianism, Modi’s popularity, failures within other parties, and strong headline economic numbers.
HINDUSTAN TIMES | SEPTEMBER 22, 2016
Politician-Bureaucrat Ties Far More Complicated Than Perceived
A new body of work shows the relationship between bureaucrats and politicians in India is riddled with perverse incentives and unintended consequences. But, it also points to possible actions for reform.
MINT | SEPTEMBER 12, 2016
IAS Reforms: Cleaning Rust from The Frame
The Indian Administrative Service (IAS) is the essential bureaucratic organ of the Indian state, but it is badly out of sync with today’s demands.
FOREIGN AFFAIRS | AUGUST 15, 2016
India’s Taxing Tax System
India passed a historic tax bill which will simplify inter-state commerce. Implementation is a daunting next step.
FOREIGN AFFAIRS | MARCH 8, 2016
Modinomics at Two
Despite winning the first single-party majority in India in three decades, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not effectively used the bully pulpit to champion reformist economic policies.
INDIAN EXPRESS | DECEMBER 30, 2015
PM’s Known Unknowns
For a government whose claim to fame was governance delivered straight from the top, the view from the summit is unexpectedly cloudy.
BERTELSMANN FOUNDATION | NOVEMBER 24, 2015
Modi’s Reform Agenda: Change You Can Believe In?
Given the array of external and internal constraints on the government, further enhanced by recent election defeats, the Modi government is unlikely to deviate from its gradualist path toward reform.
FOREIGN AFFAIRS | NOVEMBER 11, 2015
How the BJP Lost Bihar
How did the BJP lose Bihar? The easiest explanation is this: the Grand Alliance pulled a BJP on the BJP.
BBC | NOVEMBER 9, 2015
How Narendra Modi’s Bihar Defeat Will Hit Reforms Agenda
In the short run, the Bihar loss damages Modi’s prestige, complicates politics, and makes parliament more of an obstacle. Its broader impact, however, should not be overstated over the longer term.
CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT | SEPTEMBER 30, 2015
Battle for Bihar (with Saksham Khosla)
The 2015 election in the Indian state of Bihar is a major test for the Modi government. The results will have ramifications far beyond Bihar’s borders.
India stands to gain immensely from combining effective, inexpensive and logistically simple solutions with the more arduous task of strengthening important institutions and State capabilities.
REDIFF | JULY 20, 2015
Where Are the Jobs Going to Come From?
Everyone in government knows that the Indian bureaucracy circa 2015 is not equipped to handle the challenges of India’s democracy, economy, and society circa 2015—yet it continues to tinker at the margins.
GLOBAL INTEGRITY, SUNLIGHT FOUNDATION, AND THE ELECTORAL INTEGRITY PROJECT | JULY 16, 2015
Checkbook Elections: Political Finance in Comparative Perspective (with E. Sridharan)
In India, the state’s strong involvement in the economy, together with costly elections, has incentivized shadowy links between business, the criminal underworld, and politicians, exacerbating corrupt practices.
REDIFF | JULY 15, 2015
Modi Is Taking a Big Risk
Given the enormity of the domestic challenges India faces and the newness of the government, voters seem inclined to give Modi some room to run. But this won’t last forever.
MINT | JULY 6, 2015
What Makes the Indian Voter Tick?
While the motivations of Indian voters might be shifting, the make-up of the candidate pool they choose from is not.
CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT | MAY 26, 2015
Modi’s First Year
Is India getting back on track?
Modi’s government still has time to live up to the moment and its unique mandate, but this requires resolving five central tensions.
POLICY WONKS | MAY 19, 2015
One Year into Modi Sarkar: New Rules for Indian Politics?
A year after the momentous general election of 2014, some significant changes in Indian political landscape can be seen emerging.
INDIAN EXPRESS | APRIL 7, 2015
Why a ‘Congress-mukt Bharat’ Would Be Bad for BJP
At least in the short term, an India shorn of the Congress party may actually not be in the BJP’s interests. What the BJP should wish for instead is a weakened but not fatally wounded Congress.
DEUTSCHE WELLE | FEBRUARY 28, 2015
India Budget ‘a Step in the Right Direction,’ but ‘No Quantum Leap’
The new budget is clearly pro-growth in its orientation and is a marked improvement from the government’s first provisional budget issued last July.
Perceptions of public safety in India are not driven by urbanisation per se; rather, these are likely driven by the infrastructure and amenities associated with the largest cities in India.
FOREIGN AFFAIRS | FEBRUARY 11, 2015
A Rumble in Delhi
The AAP’s victory in the Delhi elections over the BJP and Congress is nothing short of a stunning reversal of fortune—the impact of which will be felt far beyond the narrow confines of the Indian capital.
Unless a farsighted Central government can champion campaign finance reforms, the after-effects of the ill-fated 1969 ban on company donations are likely to be felt long after its 45th anniversary.
MINT | JANUARY 26, 2015
How Representative Are India’s MPs? (with Alec Sugarman)
Indian legislators have very little in common with the average citizen.
MINT | JANUARY 23, 2015
No Big Ideas in India-U.S. Relations—and That’s OK
U.S.-India relations have not meandered because of a lack of ideas; they’ve ebbed and flowed thanks to over-hyped pledges followed by half-baked implementation.
Are differences within India’s middle class, in income, education, and cultural and social capital, so wide as to render moot any ideological or behavioral coherence to this group?
Modi has repeatedly stated that government should not be in the business of business, but when policy issues demand difficult trade-offs, will the Indian government side with business or consumers?
GEORGETOWN JOURNAL OF INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS | OCTOBER 9, 2014
Modi in the USA
The prime minister’s primary objective in the United States was to make the pitch that India is once again a hospitable environment for investment.
ECONOMIC TIMES | SEPTEMBER 27, 2014
For the Two Nations, Biggest Potential is in Defense
Washington is in a mood to strike up new deals with India and is eager to seize the window of opportunity with a new government.
DEUTSCHE WELLE | SEPTEMBER 26, 2014
Modi Seeking to Revive US Investment in India
Indian Premier Narendra Modi has embarked on a five-day visit to the United States aimed at improving ties and showing an American audience that India is once again “open for business.”
The Modi government must consider pivotal reforms, rather than luxuriate in the current economic recovery.
DEUTSCHE WELLE | SEPTEMBER 2, 2014
Modi’s Need to Move ‘Beyond Piecemeal Initiatives’
While Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has improved the quality of governance in his first hundred days in office, he has yet to pursue major economic policy reforms.
DEUTSCHE WELLE | JULY 28, 2014
Kerry Seeking To ‘Reset U.S. Relationship With India’
The primary purpose of Kerry’s trip to India is symbolic, but that does not make it unimportant. The Obama administration is looking to reset its relationship with India as a whole as well as with Modi the individual.
Reform initiatives that were pursued by previous Indian governments often failed due to inadequate attention to state capacity. This government has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to translate ideas into institutional change.
DEUTSCHE WELLE | JULY 10, 2014
Modi’s ‘Pro-Growth’ Budget ‘Lacking on Key Issues’
There is no doubt that the Modi government’s first budget is pro-growth in its orientation, but it still lacks a detailed blueprint for economic renewal.
BUSINESS STANDARD | JUNE 14, 2014
It’s Too Soon to Proclaim Death of Coalition Politics
Although the 2014 election repudiated many of the tenets of the post-1989 system, it is too soon to proclaim the death of coalition politics.
CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT | JUNE 10, 2014
A New Era in Indian Politics? (with Danielle Smogard)
If trends witnessed in India’s 2014 election persist, the country may have closed the book on twenty-five years of electoral politics and moved into a new era.
The next government must acknowledge India’s weak performance in enforcing the rule of law and take immediate action to close the widening gulf between principle and practice.
BBC | MAY 17, 2014
India’s Congress Party: Down but Not Yet Out
There is nothing guaranteed about the Congress party’s revival, but judging by history, even its opponents would be foolish to write it off. Congress may be down but it is not yet out.
INDIA TODAY | MAY 17, 2014
A Devil Called Policy Paralysis (with Danielle Smogard)
One of the previous Indian government’s most glaring legacies was the deep sense of uncertainty that pervades the economy. Remedying this policy paralysis and uncertainty must be the next government’s number one priority.
TIMES OF INDIA | MAY 17, 2014
Election Results 2014: BJP Landslide Shatters Four Electoral Myths
The results of India’s sixteenth general election challenge the common understanding of contemporary Indian electoral politics in at least four ways.
DEUTSCHE WELLE | MAY 16, 2014
India’s Modi Expected To Deliver ‘Quick Turn-Around’
This election is the first time since 1984 that a single party has succeeded in winning a clear majority and the first time a non-Congress party has been able to achieve this feat on its own.
BLOOMBERG | MAY 12, 2014
Indians Expect an Economic Superman
Exit polls suggest that Narendra Modi is poised to become India’s next prime minister. The hope is that Modi can scale his regional economic success story in Gujarat into a national one.
NEW YORK TIMES | MAY 9, 2014
India’s Price of Victory
The deluge of money in India’s political system is shaping more than just the nature of competition; it’s also having an effect on who gains entry into politics in the first place, as parties rely more on candidates who can pay their own way.
DEUTSCHE WELLE | APRIL 7, 2014
Odds of Congress Party Maintaining Power are Slim
India’s ruling Congress Party is expected to take a beating at the polls, as the world’s biggest election gets underway. The opposition BJP is set to do well, despite its polarizing candidate.
Even if the rural/urban divide did once provide an accurate description of the country, there is good reason to doubt it as India heads to the polls in 2014.
TIMES OF INDIA | MARCH 23, 2014
46 Percent of Indians Have No Problems Supporting Dynastic Candidates (with Devesh Kapur and Neelanjan Sircar)
Political parties in India, virtually across the spectrum, have a demonstrated preference for perpetuating political dynasties.
TIMES OF INDIA | MARCH 17, 2014
Growth Is No. 1 Poll Issue for Voters, Survey Shows (with Devesh Kapur and Neelanjan Sircar)
For voters across India, economic growth and corruption unambiguously dominate all other concerns, and inflation follows closely behind.
The hundreds of millions of voters whose collective actions will determine the course of India’s 16th general elections represent an electorate that is changing in many complex ways.
BBC | FEBRUARY 25, 2014
India Election: Is There a Surge of Support for Narendra Modi?
Since early 2013 one question has dominated Indian political discourse: will there be a “wave of support” for Narendra Modi of the main opposition BJP?
CNN | FEBRUARY 18, 2014
The Myths of India’s Rising Regional Parties
As India prepares to head to the polls in the next few months, much of the attention has been focused on the rise of regional parties and their potential impact on the national results.
FOREIGN AFFAIRS | FEBRUARY 12, 2014
None of the contenders in India’s upcoming election provide much real reassurance that they can revive India’s long-run economic growth rate.
CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT | FEBRUARY 4, 2014
Will India’s Economy Surge After the General Election?
It will take more than a new government to fix India’s struggling economy. The country needs broad reforms and institutional change to address fundamental flaws in its economic system.
CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT | JANUARY 24, 2014
Crime but No Punishment in Indian Elections
In India, politicians with criminal records are supplying what voters and parties demand: candidates who are effective and well-funded.
CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT | DECEMBER 19, 2013
Does Good Economics Mean Good Politics in India? (with Reedy Swanson)
Indian voters are rewarding politicians for good economic performance—a new and encouraging sign that Indian democracy is maturing.
2014 will be a year of transition in South Asia. National elections in Afghanistan, India, and Bangladesh will affect both regional stability and international security.
INDIAN EXPRESS | DECEMBER 12, 2013
A New Party, A More Engaged Class
In a region where democracy has been uneven, the successful completion of another election in India, especially one in which voter turnout achieved record highs, is cause for celebration.
DEUTSCHE WELLE | DECEMBER 2, 2013
‘NOTA Is Not the Same as Right to Reject’
It remains to be seen whether negative voting will influence the quality of politicians in Indian elections.
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ASIAN RESEARCH | NOVEMBER 21, 2013
India’s Upcoming Elections: Will the States and the Economy Decide?
The factors influencing Indian voters have changed markedly since the 2009 general election, with the economy now playing a larger role.
CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT | NOVEMBER 13, 2013
The Complicated Rise of India’s Regional Parties
The rise of regional parties has fundamentally transformed electoral politics in India, but those parties may not be the juggernauts they’re made out to be.
Gold has been in the news in India lately because high and rising imports have exacerbated the rupee’s vulnerability over the past few months.
CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT | OCTOBER 9, 2013
The Modi Debate Worth Having in India
The candidacy of Narendra Modi for prime minister offers India a unique opportunity to strengthen its democracy.
CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT | SEPTEMBER 10, 2013
Five Trends Shaping India’s Voting Landscape
India’s upcoming parliamentary election is painted as a head-to-head battle between two national-level parties, but political observers should not overlook local factors.
INDIAN EXPRESS | JULY 15, 2013
A Trickle of Small Victories
The Indian Supreme Court’s opinion that convicted criminals cannot serve in parliament is a win for reformers, but not a total victory in the war on criminality in politics.
CENTER FOR THE ADVANCED STUDY OF INDIA | JUNE 17, 2013
Elections in India: The Errors Voters Make
The idea that caste dominates politics in India may rest on an unsupported assumption: that Indian voters always know to what caste candidates belong.
CNN | JUNE 14, 2013
Is Modi the Answer for India’s Opposition?
The rise of Narendra Modi gives the BJP an opportunity to reshape its narrative before India’s national elections next year. But the opposition party is still at a disadvantage.
Criminal behavior is rampant across party lines in India, and it threatens to undermine public faith in democracy if left unchecked.
OXFORD INDIA SOCIETY | MAY 1, 2013
The Demand for Criminal Politicians
Measures designed to dissuade politicians in India from criminal behavior must be accompanied by measures designed to reduce demand for such representatives by parties and voters.
FOREIGN AFFAIRS | APRIL 11, 2013
India Needs More Democracy, Not Less
Effective, long-term solutions to India’s governance woes will require a more accurate diagnosis of the problems and remedies that enhance the democratic elements of the Indian system.
INDIAN EXPRESS | MARCH 14, 2013
Capitol Hill to Raisina Hill
A more realistic understanding of domestic politics in both the United States and India could help alleviate the cycles of unrealistic expectations and disappointment in the U.S.-India bilateral relationship.
CARAVAN | MARCH 1, 2013
A More Equal Union
For India’s states to learn from one another, both the states and the center will need to reform institutional barriers to constructive competition.
FOREIGN AFFAIRS | JANUARY 15, 2013
Talking Democracy in India
Narendra Modi’s re-election in Gujarat sets the stage for a national campaign in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, but has also sparked a productive conversation about different approaches to development in India.
CNN | DECEMBER 31, 2012
After the Mourning in India
The Indian government’s response to the recent much-publicized gang rape case will be measured by its ability to deliver justice for millions of Indian women not in the headlines.
CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT | DECEMBER 17, 2012
Pivotal Elections in Gujarat
Perhaps no state in India provokes as much political hysteria as Gujarat. Its December 2012 assembly elections will also have significant implications for national politics.
INDIAN EXPRESS | NOVEMBER 14, 2012
The Generation Gap of Governance (with Reedy Swanson)
India’s aging government is starting to show signs of a gerontocracy, as officials get older while the population gets younger.
CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT | NOVEMBER 3, 2012
Five Truths About India
It’s easy to misinterpret India. These five trends shed light on the country’s domestic realities, underscoring India’s internal tensions between continuity and change.
India’s struggles with cronyism and land deals are not new, but they will be hard to fix, since the glue that connects builders and politicians is election finance.
CARAVAN | OCTOBER 1, 2012
Resizing the State: What if the Indian State is Actually Not Big Enough?
Examining the realities of India’s state capacity suggests that, contrary to the conventional wisdom, building up the Indian state in several critical areas may be an important part of the solution to India’s economic woes.
CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT | SEPTEMBER 17, 2012
Prospects for India’s Reforms
Economic reforms put forward in India are merely the first step of a longer process that faces significant political opposition.
The United States has much to offer the countries of the Arab Spring but, as the case of Pakistan shows, there are clear limits to U.S. power and abilities.
In order to make the most of American aid to Pakistan, Washington and Islamabad must work together to identify what kinds of development the United States does best—and what kinds it should leave to other donors.
CNN | AUGUST 3, 2012
India’s Very Political Power Crisis
The willingness of India’s politicians to trade cheap electricity for votes explains why the governance of India’s power sector, and electricity in particular, is in such dire straits.
CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT | JULY 31, 2012
Washington’s Civilian Shortcomings in Pakistan
If the United States wants to keep the promise it made in 2009 to help build a stable, accountable, and democratic Pakistan, it must significantly alter its current approach.