So, What? Lecture - Professor Ashutosh Varshney

When:12 Jul 2017, 6pm - 7:30pm
Venue:UNSW Colombo Theatre A
Who:UNSW Arts & Social Sciences
So What? Lecture - Professor Ashutosh Vashney

India’s Democracy: Electoral Vibrancy, Liberal Deficits

Since 1952, India has had 16 national elections and 362 state elections. Power has changed hands eight times in Delhi and tens of times at the state level. Contemporary democratic theory argues that democracies can be established at low levels of income, but they survive mostly at high levels of income. Defying democratic theory, India has become the longest surviving low-income, universal-franchise democracy in history.

However, democracy is not only about holding free and fair elections. It is also about ensuring the basic liberal freedoms between elections: freedom of expression, freedom of religious practice, freedom of association etc. This is the famous distinction between the electoral and liberal aspects of democracy. India’s electoral record is vibrant, but its record on liberal freedoms continues to be shaky.

Biography: Ashutosh Varshney is Sol Goldman Professor of International Studies and the Social Sciences, and Professor of Political Science, Brown University, where he also directs the Center for Contemporary South Asia. Previously, he taught at Harvard and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. His books include Battles Half Won: India’s Improbable Democracy, Ethnic Conflict and Civic Life: Hindus and Muslims in India, Democracy, Development and the Countryside: Urban-Rural Struggles in India, and India in the Era of Economic Reforms. His honors include the Guggenheim and Carnegie fellowships and the Gregory Luebbert Prize. He is a contributing editor for The Indian Express, and his guest columns have appeared in many other newspapers, including the Financial Times. He is editor of the Modern South Asia Series, published by Oxford University Press, New York.

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