This event was co-sponsored with the Department of Political Science at Hunter College.

India’s general elections are not only fascinating and consequential in their own right; they are also an important indicator of democracy’s global health. This campaign season party competition is intense and public advocacy full-throated; Indian democracy is in vigorous condition. Yet, trends such as economic inequality, rampant corruption, and social violence raise concerns about the direction in which politics may be heading. Join us for a roundtable on the significance of India’s elections – in which, to put things in perspective, newly eligible voters (those who turned 18 since India’s last election in 2009) exceed the entire voting electorate in the 2012 US presidential election.

Discussion areas:

  • Are India’s parties – and party system – undergoing a fundamental transformation, and if so, how?
  • Has prime ministerial aspirant Narendra Modi effectively shifted the Bharatiya Janata Party away from “Hindu nationalism” and toward a development focus?  
  • Is the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty in terminal decline, and what might this mean for the Congress Party?
  • Is the “third force” in Indian politics (non-Congress/non-BJP regional & left parties) a spent force?
  • Is India’s longstanding reliance on “clientelist” politics being displaced, and if so what with?
  • Are voters less influenced by their relations with political intermediaries; more concerned with governance; and less susceptible to ethnically based political mobilization?
  • What role are India’s celebrated rights-based social programmes playing in the election?
  • How significant is the Aam Aadmi Party’s embrace of radical transparency and accountability?


Atul Kohli  David K. E. Bruce Professor of International Affairs, Princeton University

Sanjay Ruparelia  Assistant Professor of Politics and Fellow of the India China Institute, The New School

Milan Vaishnav  Associate, South Asia Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Rob Jenkins  Professor, Department of Political Science, Hunter College

A Billion Votes: Making Sense of India’s 2014 General Election | Posted on March 10th, 2014 | Human Rights Program Events, Public Programs