Special Issue: The 2014 Indian elections

In response to the recent swearing in of Narenda Modi as India’s 15th prime minister, SAMAR releases this special issue which takes a deeper look at the differences between rhetoric and reality, and the connections between communalism and neoliberalism.

Media attention on Modi’s election has labeled it a “landslide” where the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) party garnered a majority 282 seats in the new government. But readers should know this represented only 30% of the popular vote. Modi’s reputation as a religious stalwart has been noted as a brief aside, with little analysis or context, especially with respect to his “inaction” as Chief Minister of Gujarat during the riots of 2002, which left over 1000 Muslims dead and countless others as refugees.  Even less has been said of his politics of catering to corporate investment by privileging companies over farmers and fisherfolk in his own home state.

This issue provides a counterpoint to the mainstream coverage. Pachang and Matthew question how Modi’s regime will play out and raise a call to action for those of us in the diaspora to increase our efforts to fight authoritarianism in South Asia. We are reminded of the trends in elections in South Asia (and even the US) offering little choice within “democracies”: decades of dynastic rule, communalism in the name of nation-building, corporate profits over public needs.



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