Senior Expert in South Asia Programs at the United States Institute of Peace
Associate Professor of Political Science and International Studies
at Brown University
Here is what we have in store this week:
• We explore how India as a democracy is faring under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership
• A closer look at whether Indian Americans think Modi is doing a good job
• Your Sunday reading list
India has a population of over 1.4 billion people, surpassing China as the world’s most populous nation. This week, lawmakers decided to reserve a third of all parliament seats in the lower house of Parliament and state legislatures for women. Some attribute these successes to the leadership under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is popular among Indian citizens and members of its diaspora. But at a closer look, there are questions about whether the democratic republic is changing the game… or straying from the right path.
What’s happening in India?
- Last month, the Chandrayaan-3 successfully landed near the Lunar South Pole, making India the fourth country to land on the Moon.
- Its economy has had incredible growth, leading to claims it will be the fastest in the world this year.
- There are concerns about the government embracing a Hindu nationalist agenda, placing pressure on human rights groups, and endangering journalists, leading to the V-Dem Institute labeling it an “electoral autocracy.”
- In February 2023, the government raided the BBC’s offices in New Delhi and Mumbai for tax evasion — a few weeks after the broadcaster aired a documentary critically examining Modi — with critics calling this part of a crackdown on dissent.
What are the primary arguments?
- Those who think India under Modi is doing great say India has been promoted on the world stage as a global player, especially for the US, which sees the country as a major democratic partner.
- Those who disagree say his policies alienate a significant number of the population and note the increasing corruption of India’s institutions.
Now, we debate: Is Modi’s India Heading in the Right Direction? Taking the “yes” side of the debate is Sameer Lalwani, a senior expert in South Asia Programs at the United States Institute of Peace. Arguing “no” to the question is Prerna Singh, a political science and international affairs associate professor at Brown University. Both debaters have close ties to India and were eager to contemplate its future, even if they disagreed with its direction.
DEBATING THE DATA
About half of Indian Americans approve of Modi’s leadership. What about Indians living in other countries?
Is Modi’s India Heading in the Right Direction?
“India’s on the right side of history. Geopolitically speaking, it’s taking a stand… in favor of a rule-based order. It’s advocating a platform on behalf of the Global South in favor of greater public goods and inclusion and decision-making internationally. India’s economy is trending well, its GDP per capita has grown 53% over the last eight years.”
“Journalists are harassed, arrested, assaulted, and gunned down in broad daylight outside their homes, making India, according to the Columbia World Review, one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a reporter. This is part of a broad-based crackdown on dissent against civil society, universities, think tanks, and even ordinary citizens posting their grievances on social media.”
WEEKLY POINTS OF VIEW
Resurrecting The Common Good, A New (And Very Old) Conception Of Leadership
Robert Reich | September 17, 2023
Watch Robert’s debate on whether it’s time to redistribute the wealth
Mark Meadows’s failed removal spells trouble for Trump’s defense
Jennifer Rubin | September 11, 2023
The Washington Post
Watch Jennifer’s debate on whether elites are to blame for the Trump phenomenon
Can Poland Roll Back Authoritarian Populism?
Yascha Mounk | September 8, 2023
Watch Yascha’s debate on whether certain books should be banned in schools
War Over Taiwan Is the Last Thing a Slumping China Needs
Minxei Pei | September 14, 2023
Watch Minxin’s debate on whether coronavirus will reshape the world in China’s favor