India’s Dance with Democracy - Panel 1

Event time: 
Tuesday, March 26, 2024 - 5:30pm to 6:30pm
Henry R. Luce Hall LUCE, 202 See map
34 Hillhouse Avenue
New Haven, CT 06511

India Votes: Parties and Personalities in Fray

This is the first panel of a two-part series moderated by Sushant Singh featuring Sumitra Badrinathan, Tariq Thachil, and Gilles Verniers.

Political parties do not find a mention in India’s constitution, but they remain the political institution through which democratic power is exercised in India. This panel will review the origin and structure of India’s political parties, their relative growth or decline, their ideological proclivities and policy positions and map the political parties that are in fray for the 2024 general elections. It will look at their manifestos, campaign styles, strengths and weaknesses, the forming of coalition and the likelihoods of their success.

While parties are important, elections have globally become personality-centric and even parliamentary polls are fought in a presidential manner. India is no exception to this trend, which has been particularly pronounced under Narendra Modi. This panel also discusses various political leaders who matter in the 2024 general elections, their past record, policies and politics, and examines their importance for the electorate and the democratic process. This will include leaders at national level but also at a sub-national level, who hold sway in their respective states but influence, if not determine the aggregate national result.

Speaker Bios:

Sumitra Badrinathan is an assistant professor of political science at American University’s School of International Service. Her research focuses on political communication in South Asia, with an emphasis on new platforms like WhatsApp and their effects on political misinformation, media trust, and the quality of democracy. She uses experimental and survey methods to investigate potential solutions to misinformation in developing countries along with the consequences of misinformation on political and societal outcomes, including vote choice, polarization, and social cohesion.

Tariq Thachil is a professor of political science, Madan Lal Sobti Chair for the Study of Contemporary India, and Director of the Center for the Advanced Study of India at the University of Pennsylvania. His research focuses on political parties and political behavior, identity politics, urbanization and migration, with a regional focus on India. His current work focuses on the political consequences of urbanization, and draws on extensive qualitative and quantitative research among poor migrants in Indian cities.

Gilles Verniers is currently a Senior Fellow at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, and Karl Loewenstein Fellow & Visiting Assistant Professor in Political Science at Amherst College. Prof. Verniers’ research focuses on a prosopography of India’s political class, questions of political representation, and the intersections between electoral politics, state, and local governance in India. His doctoral dissertations focused on the transformation of the political class of the state of Uttar Pradesh and the localization of electoral politics.

Sushant Singh is a lecturer at Yale University and a senior fellow at the Centre for Policy Research in India. He was the deputy editor of the Indian Express, reporting on strategic affairs, national security, and international affairs, and previously served in the Indian army for two decades. A writer-journalist, he is the founder of The India Cable and his byline has recently appeared in Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, The Hindu and The Caravan, among other publications. He was earlier the Deputy Editor of The Indian Express newspaper in India where he covered international affairs and national security.