Democracies are in crisis around the world, but Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government stood out in 2019 for its brazen assaults on pluralism and minority rights. Will the world's largest democracy still be one a decade from now?
In this Big Picture, Mahatma Gandhi's biographer, Ramachandra Guha, who was recently arrested while participating in a peaceful protest, fears that India's post-independence model of democracy and interfaith comity could be replaced by ethno-nationalist authoritarianism. Echoing those fears, Shashi Tharoor of the Congress party explains why a recently introduced citizenship law represents such a stark departure from the country's tradition of religious toleration.
Moreover, Jayati Ghosh of Jawaharlal Nehru University points out that Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party have exploited broader economic anxieties stemming from weakening growth and mismanagement. Worse, as Ramesh Thakur of Australian National University explains, the government's focus on political expediency all but ensures that economic conditions will not improve – and could grow worse.