Ashutosh Varshney (for Info only, not official)

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Ashutosh Varshney

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    ...In the US, Wisconsin’s Winnebago county has lately made news. In 1872, Kimberly-Clark, a legendary company of paper products that earned $18.6 billion in worldwide sales in 2015, was born there. While Kimberly-Clark continues to be profitable, in part because it manufactures in 39 countries, smaller paper mills have shut down, one by one. Cheaper imports, especially from China, have wiped out the factory sector. Winnebago flipped from voting Democratic to voting Republican last year. Its residents were drawn to Donald Trump’s tough message on trade. Trump’s opposition to globalisation, of course, remains stark. He is still to appoint his emissaries to the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Opposed to multilateralism in trade, he also wants American corporations to invest less abroad. But globalisation’s retreat is not confined to the US alone. Germany, Britain, France and Italy are the four biggest European economies. ...

    Indian Express on Nov. 30, 2017, 12:15 a.m.

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    ...PTI Photo / PIB Over the last six months, I have participated in several panels on populism, spread as far apart as the United States, India and Australia. Some questions have repeatedly appeared: Is Narendra Modi a populist? Does Modi’s India share some political characteristics with Donald Trump’s US, Rodrigo Duterte’s Philippines, Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey, Viktor Or ban’s Hungary? The World Economic Forum’s recent India Summit in Delhi also had a panel on populism, where I spoke. This forum does not spend energy on arcane academic matters. It reflects what is uppermost in the minds of business leaders worldwide. Populism is now a larger concern. In 2014, soon after Modi’s rise to power, political analysts did not ask whether he was a populist. His 2014 victory, many argued, was based on a campaign whose two principal planks were, one, a rage against corruption and dynastic politics and, two, a fervent plea for governance and India’s economic revival. Unlike L.K. ...

    Indian Express on Oct. 23, 2017, midnight

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    ...PTI Photo / PIB Over the last six months, I have participated in several panels on populism, spread as far apart as the United States, India and Australia. Some questions have repeatedly appeared: Is Narendra Modi a populist? Does Modi’s India share some political characteristics with Donald Trump’s US, Rodrigo Duterte’s Philippines, Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey, Viktor Or ban’s Hungary? The World Economic Forum’s recent India Summit in Delhi also had a panel on populism, where I spoke. This forum does not spend energy on arcane academic matters. It reflects what is uppermost in the minds of business leaders worldwide. Populism is now a larger concern. In 2014, soon after Modi’s rise to power, political analysts did not ask whether he was a populist. His 2014 victory, many argued, was based on a campaign whose two principal planks were, one, a rage against corruption and dynastic politics and, two, a fervent plea for governance and India’s economic revival. Unlike L.K. ...

    Indian Express on Oct. 23, 2017, midnight

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    ...) Independence Day speeches are nearly always a joint manifesto. They give an account of what has been done, and they lay out a vision for the future. This is especially true when prime ministers address the nation in the middle of their term, not at its beginning. More than three years into his rule, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today had to be an accountant and a visionary at the same time. He had to chronicle what his government had done, and outline where he wishes to go. However necessary, accounting is nearly always a pedantic, even boring, exercise. Captivating poetic phrases can easily mark a statement of vision, but it is hard to attach poetic elegance to an account of how many toilets have been built, how much black money has been unearthed, how many villages have electricity, how farmers have produced a record pulse harvest, etc. Even so, this I-Day speech by the prime minister had an uncharacteristically prosaic character. ...

    Indian Express on Aug. 16, 2017, 2:19 a.m.

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    ... The significance of Nitish Kumar’s embrace of the BJP cannot be overstated. The BJP’s stunning victory in UP, and now its return to power in Bihar, undoubtedly consolidates its hold over Indian politics. But is that all? Over the last few days, it has repeatedly been said that ideology has ceased to matter in Indian politics, and a full-blown political marketplace, where the price of victory and defeat is calculated with the finesse of a stock-broker, has emerged. It has also been suggested that the so-called millennials, those born in the decade of the 1990s, are less ideologically inclined and more interested in economic aspirations and India’s glory on the world stage. They are ushering in an ideological erosion in Indian politics. While it is worth figuring out what the millennials want, Nitish Kumar’s calculations may have little to do with it. ...

    Indian Express on Aug. 3, 2017, midnight

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    ...How should we answer it? Let us start with some background. When the NDA regime came to power in 2014, many asked if Hindu-Muslim riots would return. Since Independence, especially during 1977-1993, as I statistically demonstrated in my book,Ethnic Conflict and Civic Life: Hindus and Muslims in India, communal riots, though unevenly spread geographically, had become a common feature of India’s national life. But after 1993, though small incidents continued, big riots declined, a pattern broken only twice, first in 2002 in Gujarat and next in September 2013 in Muzaffarnagar. Because of its size and destruction, the latter raised alarms in 2013-14. Moreover, even as it exhilarated many quarters, the rise of Narendra Modi to power aroused anxiety in other circles. Responding to the anxiety and using probabilistic reasoning, I argued that big riots were unlikely to come back (IE, October 30, 2014). Of the various reasons, two deserved registration. ...

    Indian Express on July 7, 2017, 12:05 a.m.

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    ... A recent visit to India made it clear that the Uttar Pradesh elections stunned not only the observer and the reporter, but also the political class. Waves are normally noisy: UP 2017 introduces a new term in our political lexicon — silent wave. It rolled by without anyone noticing it. The results raise two larger questions: Can the Muslim vote be rendered electorally irrelevant in India’s democracy? And, under what conditions would Narendra Modi, or the BJP, pick a non-RSS man to head a BJP government? The first question is connected to the idea of Hindu consolidation. The second is significant because Yogi Adityanath, UP’s new chief minister, has never been in the RSS, the mother organisation of Hindu nationalism. BJP leaders with an RSS background have been the party’s default choice for heading governments. ...

    Indian Express on April 17, 2017, 12:52 a.m.

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    ...PM Modi has become contemporary India’s most dominant political figure. No politician since Indira Gandhi has had such cross-regional electoral appeal. The BJP’s monumental electoral triumph in Uttar Pradesh, especially after a massive victory in the state’s parliamentary elections in 2014, invites reflection on two important political concepts: Dominance and hegemony. The BJP’s political dominance is now a commonplace observation, but some of the most thoughtful political commentators have also started speaking of BJP’s hegemony. The issue is not simply semantic. Real political matters are involved. And the success of future political strategies might well depend on which concept best captures the realities of Narendra Modi’s India. Let us start with the differences between Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi, viewed as the two most powerful leaders of India after Independence. What was the nature of their power and the polity they ruled? Which one does Modi resemble most? ...

    Indian Express on March 16, 2017, 12:05 a.m.