India’s New Era: Problems and Prospects

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The world’s largest democracy, India has just completed the world’s most complex national elections, and those elections have produced a political revolution. The landslide victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led by Narendra Modi signals a major shift in Indian politics, away from the Congress Party, which has governed India for most of its post-independence history. A conservative politician already dubbed “India’s Reagan” by some commentators for his free-market economics and nationalist rhetoric, Modi promises to bring business-friendly attitudes to India’s government, to spur greater economic growth and expand India’s international role.

At the same time, Modi and the BJP embrace forms of Hindu nationalism that worry not only India’s Muslim neighbor/brother/rival Pakistan, but India’s substantial Muslim population as well. Since India happens to house not only the world’s largest Hindu population, but also its third-largest Muslim population (only slightly smaller than the population of Pakistan), Hindu-Muslim relations are both a national and an international concern for New Delhi as well as its friends and neighbors.

India has long been considered a potential economic and political leader of the future. Has the time come for India to live up to that promise? Will Modi be able to implement his economic program? How might the BJP government influence India’s relations with rivals such as Pakistan and China? What about relations between the world’s largest democracy in India and the world’s most powerful democracy, the United States of America?

To consider these and other questions, please join host Ron Granieri as he welcomes Dr. Sumit Ganguly for a discussion of India’s political present, and India’s potential influence in the future of Asia and the world.

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Sumit Ganguly, Senior Fellow of FPRI holds the Rabindranath Tagore Chair in Indian Cultures and Civilizations and is a Professor of Political Science at Indiana University in Bloomington. He has been a Fellow and a Guest Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC and a Visiting Fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University. His research and writing, focused primarily on South Asia, has been supported by grants from the Asia Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the W. Alton Jones Foundation and the United States Institute of Peace.

He serves on the editorial boards of Asian AffairsAsian SurveyCurrent History, the Journal of Strategic Studies and Security Studies. He is the founding editor of both the India Review and Asian Security.

Professor Ganguly is the author, editor or co-editor of a dozen books on South Asia. His most recent books are Fearful Symmetry: India and Pakistan Under the Shadow of Nuclear Weapons (co-authored with Devin Hagerty) jointly published by Oxford University Press (New Delhi) and the University of Washington Press (Seattle), More Than Words: U.S.-India Strategic Cooperation Into the Twenty-First Century (co-edited with Brian Shoup and Andrew Scobell) published by Routledge, London, and an edited work (with Larry Diamond and Marc Plattner), The State of India’s Democracy, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007.

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