Indian Democracy in the Age of Hindutva

Date & Time February 14, 2020 4:00pm - 5:30pm
Mugar 200
South Asian Regional Committee

The South Asian Regional Committee and the Center for South Asian and Indian Ocean Studies at Fletcherwill be co-hosting a panel on Indian Democracy in the Age of Hidutva.  The panel will consist of Siddharth Varadarajan (founding editor of The, Faizan Mustafa (Law teacher and Vice Chancellor of NALSAR, Hyderabad), and Sugata Bose (Gardliner Professor of Oceanic History at Harvard University).  The panel will be moderated by Mary Richardson Professor of History Ayesha Jalal.  In light of the recent passing of the CAA and NRC, the abrogation of Kashmir’s special status, the Ayodhya verdict, and the unprecedented state-sponsored violence against student protesters, we are witnessing a rising wave of covert authoritarianism. Modi’s Hindu nationalism puts the very pillars of India’s democracy at risk. Each speaker on the panel will focus on a critique of one of the pillars of democracy. Varadarajan will discuss the role of state-backed media in perpetuating Modi’s agenda; Mustafa will discuss the judicial procedures and role of the Supreme Court in the same; and Bose will explore the domain of legislature, while all three will offer critiques of the executive. The purpose of this panel will be to provide a holistic understanding of the state of Indian democracy and its future under the Modi regime. 


Siddharth Varadarajan

Siddharth Varadarajan is a journalist, editor, academic and political analyst, and a founding editor of the leading Indian news website, The Wire. With a degree in economics from the London School of Economics, and a Masters from Columbia University, he is the former editor of The Hindu, a prominent national daily newspaper in India. He has reported extensively on the NATO war against Yugoslavia, the civil war in Nepal, the Kashmir crisis, the war in Iraq, and the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas by the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. Varadarajan has also edited a book titled “Gujarat: The Making of a Tragedy”, about the Gujarat riots in 2002. He has also co-authored a book called Nonalignment 2.0. 

He was also a member of the Expert Group on International Humanitarian Law, formed by the Indian Society for International Law to make recommendations to the Government of India on ratifying the optional protocols to the Geneva Conventions. 


Faizan Mustafa 

Professor Faizan Mustafa is a senior constitutional law teacher, currently working as the Vice Chancellor of the National Academy of Legal Studies and Research, Hyderabad. He is also the president of Consortium of National Law Universities. He has not only received both the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fulbright, but also awarded SAARC’s Best Law Teacher in 2014. He is the Founder Vice-Chancellor of National Law University, Orissa and the Advisor to National Law School & Judicial Academy, Assam. He is also visiting faculty to several reputed institutions in India and abroad. He has introduced and taught Religion & Law, Diversity Law, Education & Law courses at NALSAR. Prior to that he was the Dean, Faculty of Law, Aligarh Muslim University where he introduced courses like on Human Rights Law. He has written eight books and more than 200 articles, some of which the Supreme Court of India has quoted multiple times. 


Sugata Bose

Sugata Bose is an Indian historian and politician, and Gardliner Professor of Oceanic History and Affairs at Harvard University. With a Ph. D from the University of Cambridge, he specializes in Modern South Asian and Indian Ocean history. He has authored multiple books, including His Majesty's Opponent: Subhas Chandra Bose and India's Struggle against Empire, A Hundred Horizons: the Indian Ocean in the Age of Global Empire, and co-authored Modern South Asia: History, Culture, Political Economy with Professor Ayesha Jalal. Bose is currently writing a book titled Asia after Europe: Decline and Rise of a Continent. His work is often interdisciplinary, and crosses between domains of culture and political economy. Bose was also awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship in 1997. 


Ayesha Jalal

Our moderator for today is Professor Ayesha Jalal, the Mary Richardson professor of history at Tufts University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. She received her doctorate in history from  the University of Cambridge, and specialises in South Asia and the Muslim world. She is also the director of the Center for South Asian and Indian Ocean Studies, the organisation that has coordinated this crucial event. 

Professor Jalal is a leading historian of Pakistan as well as South Asia, and is among the most prominent academics who writes on the region. Over the years, she has written a plethora of books related to the history, culture and politics of the south asian subcontinent. Her nuanced knowledge of the Kashmir conflict makes her the perfect moderator for this panel.