Why India’s Political Elites Are to Blame

Issue Date July 2023
Volume 34
Issue 3
Page Numbers 162–71
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Is India experiencing democratic backsliding? Given the country’s prior history as a flawed democracy, the answer to this question requires that we discriminate carefully between two possibilities. First, that the current state of Indian democracy is just the continuation and culmination of a longer trend of democratic decline. Second, that the extent and nature of democratic decline in post-2013 India is a significant rupture from the long-term trend, and represents accelerating decline into backsliding. This evaluates extant evidence and finds it supports the second explanation. It then analyzes original data from a survey of Indian politicians to further examine the validity of this conclusion, and concludes that the low level of political support among BJP politicians for fundamental democratic values and institutions is driving backsliding in India.

About the Author

Vineeta Yadav is associate professor of political science at Penn State University. Her most recent book is Religious Parties and the Politics of Civil Liberties (2021), winner of the 2022 Stein Rokkan Prize for Comparative Social Science Research.

View all work by Vineeta Yadav

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