Grand Tamasha

Narendra Modi and India's New Political System

Episode Summary

Milan welcomes back Christophe Jaffrelot to discuss Modi and the BJP's rise of political prominence over the last two decades.

Episode Notes

French political scientist Christophe Jaffrelot’s new book, Modi’s India: Hindu Nationalism and the Rise of Ethnic Democracy, is a comprehensive exploration of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi—its origins, policies, philosophy, and relationship to democracy. 

Patrick Heller of Brown University calls the book “the most detailed, theoretically sophisticated, and comprehensive analysis of the rise of Modi’s BJP as a dominant electoral force.”

Christophe joins Milan on the podcast to talk about Modi’s rise to national prominence, his relationship with the Sangh Parivar, and the constraints that exist on his power. Plus, the two discuss the state of individual freedoms in India today and why Christophe believes that the BJP dominance under Modi represents a new political system in India, rather than just a new party system.

Episode notes:

  1. Christophe Jaffrelot and Pratinav Anil, India’s First Dictatorship: The Emergency, 1975-77 (Oxford University Press, 2021).
  2. Angana P. Chatterji, Thomas Blom Hansen, and Christophe Jaffrelot, eds., Majoritarian State: How Hindu Nationalism is Changing India (Oxford University Press, 2019).
  3. Christophe Jaffrelot on India’s First Dictatorship,” Grand Tamasha, April 13, 2021.


Episode Transcription

Milan Vaishnav 00:11

Welcome to Grand Tamasha, a co-production of the Hindustan Times and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. I'm your host, Milan Vaishnav. "Modi's India: Hindu Nationalism and the Rise of Ethnic Democracy" is a comprehensive explanation of the Narendra Modi government, its origins, policies, philosophy, and relationship to democracy. Patrick Heller of Brown University calls the book "the most detailed, theoretically sophisticated and comprehensive analysis of the rise of Modi's BJP as a dominant electoral force." The author of the book is Christophe Jaffrelot. Christoph is no stranger to this podcast, having most recently joined us earlier this year to discuss his book, "India's first dictatorship" about the emergency under Indira Gandhi. Christophe is director of research at CERI Science Po CNRS, professor at King's College London, and a non-resident scholar at the Carnegie Endowment. He joins me today from Paris. Christoph, welcome back. And congratulations on the book.


Christophe Jaffrelot 01:04

Thank you, Milan. And thank you for the invitation.


Milan Vaishnav 01:07

Before we get into the heart of the book, I think it's useful for our listeners, for you to tell us a little bit about the origins of the book. Most of us who know you know that you have been watching Narendra Modi, for a very long time. You have been studying Gujarat, traveling to Gujarat for decades now. You've also written extensively on the BJP, the RSS, and the broader changes to the Indian party system. After decades of working on each of these topics what moved you to author 650-page analysis of Modi and his government. What was missing from what was out there? What was the kind of niche that you wanted to fill?


Christophe Jaffrelot 01:49

Well, this is a very good question. The main reason why I did this book is that I found the existing literature rather incomplete [...] and few people call a spade a spade. So I thought we needed a book, trying to make sense of how Modi's politics is transforming India, a book that is not the biography of Modi, and it does not focus only on BJP's electoral performances, but a book that is presenting the larger picture. How Modi rose to power in Gujarat first and then in India? How did he change BJP, and the Sangh parivar at large? What kind of populism does he epitomize? What kind of authoritarianism does he embody? And in particular, how the state and vigilante groups work together in Modi's India, and what has been the impact of these politics on society, on the minorities and the institutions, on the NGOs on the university system? So that was the objective. And that's why the book is so long, because it tries to be comprehensive. And it is based on a lot of data. You know, I believe in facts. I really believe in evidence. There's evidence supported argument. So there are many statistical data. There are dozens of interviews, sometimes I've not revealed the name of the people I interviewed. But that's why there are also one hundred pages of footnotes.


Milan Vaishnav 03:32

So before we get to Modi in Delhi, you account Modi's rise from a provincial politician, and how he catapulted from the state of Gujarat to the national stage. I want to ask you about a very interesting anecdote you have, which relates to the circumstances in which Modi was first made Chief Minister of Gujarat. I was surprised to learn that Modi was actually very reluctant to take the job at first, so then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee offered it to him. And Modi said, "Look, this is not my work. I've been away from Gujarat for six years. I'm not familiar with the issues. What am I going to do there? It is not a field of my liking. I don't know anyone." Now anyone who has seen Narendra Modi over the past seven or eight years, he doesn't strike you as reluctant to do anything, right? So why do you think he was so unsure about taking on this particular post back in 2001?


Christophe Jaffrelot 04:30

Yeah, that's an interesting episode. And it goes beyond an anecdote. It's more than that. To respond to this question, I would factor in two variables. First of all, Modi in 2001 was not a politician. He was pracharak, an organizer who despised politicians like so many other RSS scouters and as a Sangathan Mantri, as an organizing secretary, he exerted power from behind the scene. He had never fought an election and to become Chief Minister he had to. And that was not something easy for him in 2001, and that's the secret explanation I would give; Modi was not welcome back in Gujarat in 2001, in BGP at that time. He had been forced to leave the state after [Shanskersinh] Vaghela had made Keshubhai Patel's government fall. He had been accused of mismanagement. Keshubhai by was not happy to be erased out and hand over the post of CM [Chief Minister] to him. And in fact, many other BJP leaders who are not happy to see him back. He had a tough time to find an MLA [Member of the Legislative Assembly] seat, for instance. He wanted to contest from Ellis Bridge, but Haren Pandya who was to be assassinated two years later, refused to resign. He had to go to Rajkot. So it's an interesting, and I would say, educative episode because it shows that what retrospectively seems so odd, in fact, forces us to historicize.


Milan Vaishnav 06:13

So after Modi won reelection in Gujarat in 2012, you might remember you and I were both there in December 2012. And we in fact met several times. 

Christophe Jaffrelot 06:22

I do.


Milan Vaishnav 06:22

And I knew at that point, it was very clear that upon his election victory, he was going to pivot to the national stage, and would likely be the odds-on favorite to be the BJP Prime Ministerial face in 2014. Now, many election observers who had followed the BJP throughout the 90s and 2000s thought that the BJP had already peaked. And that was in a process of gradual decline, right? Unable to grow its national vote share, unable to form the government in 2004 and again in 2009, tell us a bit about the BJP, the party, that Modi was inheriting in 2014 and what innovations he introduced to kind of remake the party in his own image.


Christophe Jaffrelot 07:08

Yes, indeed, many people in 2012 thought that BJP was declining for good. I never thought that BJP was in such a bad situation, in fact, because I never looked at BJP alone. And in contrast to many of my colleagues, and that's where to do fieldwork makes a big difference. Because when you do fieldwork, you see that BGP is part of a much larger organization, the Sangh Parivar. And the last sentence of my first book in 1996, was precisely on this said [...] BJP is not winning elections, but the Sangh Parivar is expanding. And that will inevitably help BJP at the time of elections. So BJP was not alone, far from that because of these organizations. But it's not as if it was only depending upon directives from RSS. No, there is an autonomy, a real autonomy, at the party level. And in 2012, this autonomy allowed the party leader LK Advani to stick to a tactic. I would not call that a strategy but a tactic; a tactic relying on the NDA. For LK Advani BJP, to remain at the helm of a coalition and would never win, except in a coalition.


Milan Vaishnav 08:52

Just for our listeners who are not initiated, NDA was the National Democratic Alliance, of which the BJP was the principal party.


Christophe Jaffrelot 09:00

Exactly, a coalition arcing back to the late 1990s. And Modi suggest an alternative plan based on what he had achieved in Gujarat. And polarization was the key word if you want. He claimed that BGP could win a majority of seats by being true to Hindutva and not dilute Hindutva the way Advani, because of the NDA, was forced to dilute Hindutva. Now, that was a very innovative way to put things because for all of us, Indian politics had a centrist trope. All of us had learned from Suzanne and Lloyd Rodolph that you win elections not by being an extreme party, but a centrist party, and Modi did something completely different, radicalizing [and] polarizing. And in the book, I show that in fact he has invalidated the famous moderation phases that not only the Rudolphs, but many other people [...] in Political Science across the globe, because across the globe, things are changing. And populism means in many cases polarization. And it works. 


Milan Vaishnav 10:25

Let me just ask you about this because, you know one of the things many people have noted about the 2014 campaign is that Modi portrayed himself as a moderate. In fact, he talked about Vikas: development. He talked about good governance. He talked about how it wasn't the business of the government to be in business, right? He talked about reforms, in a general sense, not in a specific sense. And so in many ways, you can argue and people like Ashutosh Varshney and others have said this, is that in the national theatre of politics, the 2014 campaign did not seem to be based on Hindutva or Hindu nationalism, it seemed to be pitched at making a broader play for a pan-Indian coalition. Is that a fair assessment?


Christophe Jaffrelot 11:09

Well, yes and no. Yes, but I will begin with the no. No, because I do think that in 2014, he did not need to do too much on the Hindutva side. You know, he was the man who had presided over the 2002 program. And this is something that kept coming back in all the interviews, in all the comments. And he never said sorry [...] he never apologized for what had happened. Plus, of course, you may also remember that during the election meetings, Muslims were given burkas and topi caps to be seen as separate within those who were part of the audience. And he went to Varanasi, and that was not by chance, the way he chose his own constituency. So Hindutva was defeated as subtext of the 2014 campaign. 


Christophe Jaffrelot 12:10

Now certainly it was not only about that, and this is where this is where it is absolutely a new political animal on the Hindu nationalist side, because it's Hindu nationalism, it's Hindutva plus, plus populism. Mostly, this is the trump card that he could use in 2014. And this is something he had tried before in Gujarat, the populist repertoire which meant that I am representing the people against the elite and in Gujarat, it worked very well; it was against Delhi. Delhi was exploiting Gujarat, marginalizing Gujarat, and in Delhi, you are a dynasty—the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty—who were not only elite, English speaking foreign elite, but also pro-Muslims and he called Delhi "Delhi Sultanate" and he called Sonia Gandhi, "pasta bhen." And in contrast to these establishment figures, he was the son of the soul. He was a man of the plebian side. Never before BGP had someone who could say: I am a former pracharak, but I'm a former chaiwallah also. I'm an OBC, a backward caste man. I come from a very plebeian milieu. So he could stand and appear as different, a victim like the people, a victim of the English-speaking media, NDTV, a victim of the "Khan Market Gang," what he will say later on. This is the "plus" vote that he brings to BGP; he can appear as a man of the people, he's like me, and a superhero. The real brute, a virile man endowed with supernatural powers. 


Milan Vaishnav 14:30

Let me ask you a little bit about this cult of personality or charismatic authority, because one of the questions that was doing the rounds, particularly between 2014 and 2019 was what is the precise equation between Modi and the Sangh Parivar? This constellation of Hindu nationalist organizations led by, fueled by the RSS. Now some people said they're basically two sides of the same coin because Modi was a foot soldier, as it were, in the RSS and the Hindu nationalist movement, but you write in your own book that Modi actually upset many in the RSS and you spoke about this earlier because he had this larger than life persona which went against the RSS ethos of collectivism, of humility, of knowing your place. And so how do we think about the dynamics between Modi the leader, the prime minister, and the RSS, the organization?


Christophe Jaffrelot 15:26

Yes, we need to do some history again, because everything begins again in Gujarat. In 2007, the RSS was upset [...] Modi did not report to the prime pracharak. He did not submit to Him the list of candidates for the state elections. He refused to accommodate Keshubhai Patel, who was defeated when he contested for the post of party president of BJP of Gujarat. And he alienated the Bharatiya Kisan Union when he increased the electricity tariffs, the BKS being the peasants wing of RSS. And in spite of the fact that RSS tried to mediate around Jaitley['s] rush to Gujarat, Modi never compromised. 


Christophe Jaffrelot 16:16

But he won the 2007 elections. And for me, it's a turning point, because Modi showed that he could win without the RSS support. He could win because he had other channels of communication. Now he had other advisors, including people come coming from the PR company APCO Worldwide. He could win because he had his own network of IT specialists and social media and so on. In a way he had short circuited the organization. And this is typical for the populists to do. Populists don't need particular parties. And when they do, they are their own creations in many ways. On the one end, yes, his personal style is not the cup of tea of RSS that is a much more collegial organization that does not believe in personality cult. No, you can't even name the RSS chiefs. There have been many, they have come they have gone. They don't matter.


Christophe Jaffrelot 17:27

On the other end, of course, RSS is happy with what Modi does, because they have their own power in the corridor of their own people in the corridor of power. They have a lot of influence in domains very dear to them, like education. And they see their agenda implemented one item after the other. Article 370 being abolished, the Ayodhya Temple being built. So RSS having a long-term perspective; they may be back in the driver's seat. The real question probably then will be how can you rebuild the party? A party where power has been so centralized? Congress never recovered from this kind of concentration of power under Indira, but RSS [...] is very rich in [unintelligible]. It's a really a calibrized organization, something Congress never was. So new leaders may emerge from a trend, they will get the best of what Modi will have given to them, and they will wait for new opportunities for being again in the driver's seat.


Milan Vaishnav 18:52

Let me ask you about the broader ideological project, Christophe, because the RSS since the early 20th century, has been very clear about its desire to bring about a Hindu Rashtra, which you define is essentially an idea based on the definition of a nation that in which Hindu culture is essentially synonymous with Indian culture, right? So it is self-regulating, not necessarily based on the established constitutional foundations. We had last year the scholar Vinay Sitapati, the author of the book Jugalbandi on the BJP before Modi, a book I know that you know very well, one of the things he says is actually the BJP and the RSS don't have a theory of the state as it were. And I'm wondering if you agree with this assessment that once they come to power [that] they have this vague idea about a Hindu Rashtra. But do they have a governance agenda?


Christophe Jaffrelot 19:54

I think the first thing I would say here is that RSS does not pay much attention to the state apparatus. Because what matters the most is society. Society seen as a living organism, potentially are [unintelligible] and the main ideologue of RSS Deendayal Upadhyaya made no mystery of the fact that this societal model was the Varna system, the caste system, the ideal caste system. And by contrast, he attacked the state that Nehru and Ambedkar were developing, because this state was the instrument of reforms for development and for more equality, social reforms. 


Christophe Jaffrelot 20:35

So the fact that RSS focuses on society is clear at the expense of the state and the modus operandi of the organization makes it even clearer. We want on the Shaka in the branch of the Sangh, to create a new man. What matters is society that will be built on these new men. It's also what you see in a very different way, through the vigilante groups that RSS is sponsoring, including Bajrang Dal. Bajrang Dal is a very important addition to the Sangh Parivar. I dwell on this organization in the book for that reason. It's a control police in a way, trying to implement the best practices that Hindus should cultivate. They fight dissent, inter-caste marriages, love jihad, as they say, the fact that some Muslims are accused of seducing young Hindus. So this is revealing for me of one definition of the state and even one theory of the state. They believe in a form of authority that is legitimate because [it is] rooted in cultural values and in Hinduism. And they do it legitimately at the expense of the legality of the official state, in a way they are a parallel state. At the local level, it does not mean that they ignore the state. And what we see today is an attempt at making the parallel state the, if you want, "legitimate" state and the legal state working together.


Milan Vaishnav 22:41

So let me ask you about the legal state because you devote quite a lot of attention in the book to the weakening or decay of Indian institutions, especially those that might provide a check on executive power. But what's interesting is that in many cases, your argument is not that the BJP eliminated institutions or undid institutions. It is that many of these institutions, the judiciary for example is one that you highlight, actually abdicated, self-abdicated, their responsibilities of their own volition. So this, to me is a pretty big puzzle, right? Why would independent institutions willingly cede control to another branch of government? Unlike what's happened in some parts of the world, the remit of the Supreme Court has not changed, right? The court has not been explicitly packed with sycophants, right? So there's something more nuanced and more complicated going on.


Christophe Jaffrelot 23:41

Yes, very sophisticated. And indeed, this chapter is one of the most important chapters for me in this book precisely because I try to unpack this complexity. What I study in the book is the process that has affected the Central Information Commission, the Central Bureau of Investigation, the National Investigation Commission, the Election Commission, and of course, the Supreme Court and the Indian parliament. And in the case of the first institutions I've just listed, clearly, there are different techniques for weakening them. First of all, you can dilute their mission and the RTI [Right to Information] Act has been diluted for instance, or you can let posts remain vacant. You have nobody to do the job. The institution is weak for that reason. 


Christophe Jaffrelot 24:44

Or you can also replace some of those who were in charge by all their state functionaries. What would be more pliable? Alok Verma, the former CBI chief, Ashok Lavasa, the former Election Commissioner. Our case is in point and interesting both of them have been spied by the Pegasus spyware [...] So these institutions have been weakened by resorting to different strategies. And of course, the successors got the message when the successors have not been selected on purpose anyway. The case of the judiciary is more complex and there again the question of appointments is key. Because remember, Gopal Subramanyam, could not be appointed to the Supreme Court, in spite of his selection by the college. That was a first in the spring of 2014. And after him, dozens of judges could not be appointed either at the High Court level, and I give the complete list in the book. 


Christophe Jaffrelot 25:52

So the appointment of judges is one way to weaken judiciary; the way you select or delay or refuse the appointment of judges. But there are other interesting elements in the case of the judiciary that need to be mentioned. One is the kind of politicization of the judiciary. Because we see among those who have been appointed judges who are very close to the Sangh Parivar who have even been part of the Adhivakta Parishad, the branch of the Sangh Parivar specializing in the judiciary, like A.K. Goel or U.R. Lalit, and you have others [...] for instance, who appear publicly in the company of BJP leaders. So that's another new development that makes this the proximity of some judges with Hindu nationalist leaders of use. And then you have another very important factor for the decline of the neutrality of the judges. That is the expectation of post-retirement jobs. When a judge knows that you'll get something after retirement, because the government will have appreciated the way it would have worked, then, of course, you create the condition for some bias. In fact, Arun Jaitley himself said this is undermining the judiciary. Yes, it is. And last but not least, of course, but that's something that would take us too far, Prashant Bhushan argues that some judges are being blackmailed, because many of them are not completely clean. And that's another possibility.


Milan Vaishnav 27:48

This all begs the question, Christophe, that some of these pathologies are not new, right? And so for some people who have read your last two books, this book on Modi, the previous book on the emergency under Mrs. Gandhi, might conclude that what we're seeing today in Indian politics is a kind of reversion to the mean. In other words, in a previous era, you had a strong leader who was able to subvert institutions, trample on basic freedoms, establish a cult of personality, you then had a 25-year period of coalition politics dispersed power, where things look differently. But now we're back in the previous mode where with a strong dominant party and a strong dominant leader, so what is so new in your mind about this moment, compared to previous periods where you've had executive dominance and a charismatic Prime Minister?


Christophe Jaffrelot 28:39

I do think that during the emergency time and today, there were three pillars which were similar. The constant question of power, a political economy that was very much based on cronies and crony capitalism, and some privatization of violence. But there are two major differences and I think that's why we cannot compare today's India and the emergency years. First of all, Mrs. Gandhi had no long-term plan when she declared the emergency. It was a survival exercise, and she could not rely on any organization. On the contrary, the Sangh Parivar is benefiting from Modi's popularity with a long-term objective to transform India into a Hindu Rashtra. And its organization is huge. So that makes a very clear difference. 


Christophe Jaffrelot 28:39

And the second big difference is that the emergency was, of course, much more draconian. Censorship was very straight. They were 100,000 political prisoners. Mass deorganization was the order of the day. General elections were suspended. Well, that's a very important dimension. [Today] Elections are not suspended in India. On the contrary, they are very important to what I call a populist regime. We are seeing across the globe a new type of political regime that is taking shape, and I can't call them populist regime because they rely on elections. The charismatic leader needs elections to renew his or her legitimacy. Of course, he has to win and to make sure that he wins, he will make the competition uneven by collecting more money than anybody else, by saturating the public space, but there'll be elections. And this is a major feature. There'll be elections to renew the legitimacy of the leader, but also to show the world that you are on the right side. And to organize elections allows Narendra Modi to tell the world India is the world's largest democracy, something that is of course, very important when the West is looking for partners for containing China in the name of values, in the name of democracy.


Milan Vaishnav 31:19

Let me just ask you about the media Christophe, because you've argued that what we see today is a much more pliant media, a media whose freedoms in some ways have been restricted. And that the press generally in India, you argue in the book, no longer functions as the fourth pillar of democracy. Now, many people who support the government would respond to that by saying Christophe Jaffrelot can write this in his book, but he himself has a regular spot on the Indian Express op-ed page. He writes for numerous print and online publications. No one is censoring him. So can it really be said that the media is muzzled?


Christophe Jaffrelot 32:01

Well, Indian Express, online publications...frankly speaking this is not what publiciters are most interested in; they can leave that precisely to critiques. What they focus upon is television. And what we see in India today is a restriction of pluralism on this side of the media, television. So in the book, I study, the different ways in which the government can influence these power centers that TV channels have become. They can do it by using government ads, by intimidating critics via IT rates or ED rates, by filling dozens of sedition cases against journalists in UP for instance. By putting pressure on the owners of channels for easing out journalists, the way P.P. Bajpai was sacked by the proprietor of ABP News is a case in point. And I'm not mentioning the way TV anchors like Ravish Kumar are erased [...] from NDTV, one of the last critical TV channels. So those who have his courage resist, the others give up and this is why diversity is not what it used to be on Zee TV or Times Now, for instance. 


Christophe Jaffrelot 33:39

But the most interesting case, of course, is Republic TV. Republic TV is a fascinating phenomenon that has been founded by a man who is now part of the government of India. And of course [...] this channel claims to be informative, but in the book, we have scrutinized with Vihang Jumle, the role of this channel during the 2019 election campaign. And it's difficult to find a more biased coverage really. So on the one hand, you have the way to circumvent or circumscribe channels, which used to be independent, and, on the other end, you have the promotion of a new version of Fox News in many ways. 


Milan Vaishnav 34:36

Christophe, let me bring this conversation to an end by asking one final question about the broader system in India. You know, many of us after the 2014, and particularly after the 2019 elections, wrote about the dawn of a new party system, what we call the Fourth party system, which was the era that that kind of consolidated BJP rule after a prolonged period a coalition politics. You take a different tact. You argue that it's not just a new party system; it's a new political system. And I'm wondering if you could distill for us why you make this distinction, because it's an important distinction. And it seems to me to transcend just political competition to something much broader.


Christophe Jaffrelot 35:26

Certainly, this is absolutely key. And I would say that a new ecosystem is taking shape in India, for four reasons that I will list briefly. One is political competition is not a level playing field anymore. For the reasons I've mentioned before, the way the Election Commission, for instance, has lost some of its autonomy, but for other reasons, as well. And I will mention only one: that is money power. And Milan, you know, in this question, even better than me. When BGP can spend $3.6 billion in the 2019 election campaign, it spends more than all its competitors. And this is partly because of an innovation he has initiated that is called election bonds.


Christophe Jaffrelot 36:26

So that's one way also to connect to another dimension that I have alluded to. This new political system is as its own political economy. Crony capitalism is part of it. And the business model that Narendra Modi initiated in Gujarat, with Gautam Adani and many others, has become the order of the day, and the wave of privatization that we are seeing today is just reconfirming that, yes, the competition is unfair, partly because the money, power, and political power are more and more together. Secondly, and more importantly, because we have not mentioned this so far but for me, it's very important. This new political system can be called majoritarian. Majoritarian, the sense that it develops the new kind of access to citizenship. And the CA is a case in point for the first time, religion is a criterion to be eligible to Indian citizenship.


Milan Vaishnav 37:38

And that's the Citizenship Amendment Act. 


Christophe Jaffrelot 37:40

Yes, exactly, passed in 2019. And the last chapter of the book is about the strain of Indian Muslims. So, I have built datasets about their representation in the administration, in the police, and in the parliament. And you see how Muslims have been marginalized, especially in the Lok Sabha, where for the first time in the history of India, the ruling party has no Muslim MP. So if you want, this is a numerical system where secularism is on the paper, but multi-culturalism not implemented anymore. 


Christophe Jaffrelot 38:17

Third, concentration of power in the hands of few people, I think, is a symptom of the change of the peculiar system because it's at the expense of the government and ministerial competence. It is at the expense of Parliament, and I give data about the way parliament is bypassed today. You can not say India is a parliamentary democracy the way it used to be. And it's at the expense of federalism. And last but not least, in a liberal democracy, freedom is a key value the current system changes for good when a democracy does not observe freedom of the individual as much as it should. And what we are seeing with the biggest [...] story that has been remarkably underreported is that India has spied [on] journalist, opponents, intellectuals, social workers, and that has resulted in the arrest of the 16 Bhima Koregaon accused, for instance, years ago. 


Christophe Jaffrelot 39:33

But that has not resulted in any investigation after the Pegasus story, it came out. Now there is an important bill that will be tabled in Parliament in the coming weeks or month, hopefully: the Privacy Bill. It will be very important to see where is the cursor, where is the red line, in terms of defense of individual freedom and privacy. This is by the way something the rest of the world is watching very closely, because the flows of data that the IT sector of India will be eligible too, to some extent, will be a function of the seriousness of this Privacy Bill. But that's the business part of the story. The political part of the story is a political system that claims to be democratic needs to protect the private life of its citizens. And this is something the Supreme Court has recommended. Now the law has to be, I would say, finalized. The bill has to be passed. And we'll see where India stands on this front. But these are the four reasons why I think that we need to go beyond the party system. It's not a question of political parties only. There is much more at stake.


Milan Vaishnav 41:07

My guest on the show this week is the political scientist Christophe Jaffrelot. He's the author, most recently of Modi's India: Hindu Nationalism and the Rise of Ethnic Democracy, published in the United States by Princeton University Press. Christophe, it is always a joy to have you on and an education. Congratulations on the book. And thanks for taking the time.


Christophe Jaffrelot 41:23

Thank you, Milan. And I'm glad to say that the book is also available in India now because Amazon India is publishing it this month.


Milan Vaishnav 41:32

So we will link to that in the show notes so our listeners can find it. Thanks again. Christophe. 


Christophe Jaffrelot 41:36

Thank you.


Milan Vaishnav 41:38

Grand Tamasha is a co-production of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Hindustan Times. This podcast is an HT Smartcast original, and is available on, India's fastest growing podcasting platform. You can also find us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. Don't forget to rate and review; helps others find the show more easily. For more information about the show and to find the writing reference on this week's episode, visit our website Production assistance comes from Caroline Duckworth. Tim Martin is our audio engineer, and Cliff Djajapranata is our executive producer. Thanks for listening and see you next week.


Outro 42:19

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