Democracy Paradox
Democracy Paradox
Jun 14, 2022
Ashutosh Varshney on India. Democracy in Hard Places
Play • 54 min

Nehru is asked several times in those early years, ‘Aren’t you doing something which has never been done before? You are 17% literate. Half of your country is below the poverty line. Under such conditions no democracy has ever stabilize itself and perhaps has not emerged.’ And his argument repeatedly is that we shouldn't be constrained by the history of the West.

Ashutosh Varshney

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A full transcript is available at

Ashutosh Varshney is the Sol Goldman Professor of International Studies and the Social Sciences and Professor of Political Science at Brown University, where he also directs the Center for Contemporary South Asia. His chapter "India’s Democratic Longevity and Its Troubled Trajectory" appears in the forthcoming book Democracy in Hard Places.

Key Highlights

  • How India defied early theories of democratization
  • The role of leadership in India's early democracy
  • Why India returned to democracy after Indira Gandhi's emergency?
  • The eerie similarities between India's recent treatment of Muslims and the rise of the Jim Crow era in the American South
  • When will democratic backsliding in India become a democratic collapse

Key Links

"Modi Consolidates Power: Electoral Vibrancy, Mounting Liberal Deficits" by Ashutosh Varshney in Journal of Democracy

Learn more about Ashutosh Varshney at

Follow Ashutosh Varshney on Twitter @ProfVarshney

Democracy in Hard Places edited by Scott Mainwaring and Tarek Masoud

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