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Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

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Season Finale: Where is Indian Foreign Policy Going?
Grand Tamasha
access_time2 months ago
This season, in twenty episodes, Grand Tamasha has covered a lot of ground—from the war in Ukraine, to the UP elections, and India’s water crisis. We will be taking a little break to recharge our batteries, but we will be back in August with all-new Grand Tamasha content.To bring the curtains down on the seventh season of Grand Tamasha, Milan is joined on the podcast by podcast regulars, Sadanand Dhume of the American Enterprise Institute and Wall Street Journal and Tanvi Madan of the Brookings Institution. The trio discusses the foreign policy crisis which engulfed India last week after two BJP spokespersons made statements criticizing the Prophet Mohammed; the 180-degree turn in popular perceptions of India’s stance on the Russian invasion of Ukraine; and how India was received at the annual Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore.Plus, the three offer their summer reading recommendations for India policy enthusiasts. Sadanand Dhume, “Hindu Nationalism Threatens India’s Rise as a Nation,” Wall Street Journal, June 9, 2022. Shoaib Daniyal, “The India Fix,” Scroll.in.Carnegie India, “Ideas and Institutions,” Carnegie India.Ananth Krishnan, “The India-China Newsletter.”Suyash Desai, “The PLA Bulletin.”Manoj Kewalramani, “Eye on China,” Takshashila Institution.
How Five-Year Plans Shaped India's Economy—and Democracy
Grand Tamasha
access_time2 months ago
In 2014, soon after coming to power, the Narendra Modi government decided to abolish India’s decades-old Planning Commission, replacing it with a new government think tank meant to facilitate cooperative federalism. For years, the Planning Commission devised detailed, five-year, central plans meant to guide India’s economy and allocate funds from the center to India’s states.Eight years later, the Planning Commission may be gone, but it is not forgotten. A new book by the University of Notre Dame historian Nikhil Menon, Planning Democracy: How a Professor, An Institute, and an Idea Shaped India, provides a wide-ranging history of the marriage between liberal democracy and a socialist economy, uncovering the way planning came to define not just the economy but the nation itself.Nikhil is Milan’s guest on the show this week. They talk about the legacy of India’s planning infrastructure, the unique influence of pioneering statistician P.C. Mahalanobis, and the ways in which India’s statistical architecture was the envy of the world. Plus, the two discuss the decline of planning, the vestiges that carry on today, and India’s weakened data institutions. “India’s once-vaunted statistical infrastructure is crumbling,” Economist, May 19, 2022.Nikhil Menon, “A short history of data,” Hindu, March 21, 2019Pramit Bhattacharya, “How India’s Statistical System Was Crippled,” Mint, May 7, 2019.
What Kind of World Power Does India Want to Be?
Grand Tamasha
access_time2 months ago
What kind of world power does India want to be? Few questions have been asked as often or as intensely since India’s economic take-off in the early 1990s and the corresponding rise in its foreign policy ambitions. Many of our intellectual debates seek answers to this question by looking back to the dawn of independence in 1947. A new book by political scientist Rahul Sagar, To Raise a Fallen People: How Nineteenth Century Indians Saw Their World and Shaped Ours, invites readers to look even further back to the oft-forgotten, raucous debates of the 19th century. Rahul joins Milan on the podcast this week to talk about his new book and the intellectual roots of India’s strategic thought. Milan and Rahul discuss the debate over India’s strategic culture, its “half-hearted” approach to great power politics, and the salience of 19th-century debates for understanding the current foreign policy discourse on Russia-Ukraine.Rahul Sagar, “If it doesn’t learn from the past, the West can lose India (again),” Times of India, May 22, 2022.Rahul Sagar, The Progressive Maharaja: Sir Madhava Rao's Hints on the Art and Science of Government (London: Hurst, 2022). Rahul Sagar, “‘Jiski Lathi, Uski Bhains’: The Hindu Nationalist View of International Politics,” in Kanti Bajpai, Saira Basit, and V. Krishnappa, eds., India’s Grand Strategy: History, Theory, Cases (New Delhi: Routledge, 2016).
The Indo-Australian Vote and Milan’s Delhi Reunion
Grand Tamasha
access_time3 months ago
Over the weekend, Australian voters elected a new government with the Australian Labor Party (ALP) and Anthony Albanese at the helm, ousting the ruling Liberal-National Coalition for the first time in a decade. Key to the ALP’s landmark victory was the vote of the Indo-Australians, now the second largest immigrant group in Australia.A new Carnegie study co-authored by Devesh Kapur, Caroline Duckworth, and our very own Milan Vaishnav, sheds light on three elements of the Indo-Australian community’s political behavior: the community’s political preferences, leadership preferences, and policy priorities. This week, we put Milan in the hot seat to discuss his new study along with Caroline Duckworth, a James C. Gaither Junior Fellow in Carnegie’s South Asia Program. We also wanted to turn the tables on Milan to ask him about his recent trip to Delhi—his first in the COVID-era. We talk about India’s ongoing heat wave, the political mood in the country, and the fractures in Indian federalism. Caroline Duckworth, Devesh Kapur, and Milan Vaishnav, “Indo-Australian Voters and the 2022 General Election,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, May 18, 2022.Jonathan Kay, “A Heat Wave Has Pushed India’s Dysfunctional Power System Into a Crisis,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, May 12, 2022.
Inside Sri Lanka's Economic Meltdown
Grand Tamasha
access_time3 months ago
Sri Lanka has been the site of dramatic economic and political upheaval over the past several weeks as years of economic mismanagement have resulted in rampant inflation, shortages of essential commodities, and the country’s first sovereign default in the post-independence era. The island’s dire economic conditions have spurred angry, and sometimes violent, protests which resulted in the sudden resignation of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and continued calls for the resignation of Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the country’s president and the prime minister’s brother.To discuss the economic and political causes and consequences of this crisis, Milan is joined on the show this week by political economist Ahilan Kadirgamar. Ahilan is Senior Lecturer at the University of Jaffna and one of Sri Lanka’s leading political economists. Ahilan and Milan discuss the tense situation on the ground, the economic roots of the current crisis, and the prospects for a return to wide-scale violence. Plus, the two discuss India’s role in extending an economic lifeline to Sri Lanka and whether the island nation can put a decades-old legacy of ethnic strife behind it.“Rethinking Sri Lanka’s economic crisis,” Interview with Ahilan Kadirgamar, Himal South Asian, February 28, 2022.Ahilan Kadirgamar, “Polarization, Civil War, and Persistent Majoritarianism in Sri Lanka,” in Thomas Carothers and Andrew O’Donohue, eds., Political Polarization in South and Southeast Asia: Old Divisions, New Dangers (Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2020).Ahilan Kadirgamar, "Sri Lanka stares at bankruptcy or redemption," The Hindu, April 16, 2022.Ahilan Kadirgamar. "The Political Economy of the Crisis in Sri Lanka," Economic & Political Weekly, April 30, 2022.
Mr. Modi Goes to Europe
Grand Tamasha
access_time3 months ago
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently completed a three-country, whirlwind tour of Europe. The trip began in Germany, where Modi met with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, then continued with a stop in Denmark, where he participated in the India-Nordic Summit, and wrapped up in Paris, where he sat down with newly reelected French President Emmanuel Macron.To discuss Modi’s Europe visit and its lasting implications, Milan is joined on the show this week by Garima Mohan. Garima is a senior fellow in the Asia program at the German Marshall Fund based in Berlin. Her research focuses on Europe-India ties, EU foreign policy in Asia, and security in the Indo-Pacific.Milan and Garima discuss how Europe sees India’s evolving stance on Russia-Ukraine, India’s ambitious (and nuanced) European outreach, and the trajectory of defense collaboration. Plus, the two discuss how Europe and India are working together on cross-cutting issues from climate to trade and technology. Episode notes:Nayanima Basu, “Modi’s trip shows India & EU can grow closer despite differences on Russia’s Ukraine invasion,” ThePrint, May 6, 2022.Garima Mohan and Thorsten Benner, “Look More at India!” Der Spiegel, May 2, 2022.Sreemoy Talukdar, “An assessment of EU-India ties as Modi visits Europe: Sheer political will driving strategic convergence beyond differences,” Firstpost, May 4, 2022.
Pakistan After Imran Khan
Grand Tamasha
access_time3 months ago
On April 11, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was ousted from office, having suffered defeat in a dramatic no confidence vote in the national assembly. Soon after, Shehbaz Sharif—former chief minister of Punjab and brother of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif—was sworn into office as his replacement, capping a dizzying few weeks of political intrigue. To make sense of the latest developments in Pakistan, including what they mean for India, this week Milan is joined on the show by Aqil Shah. Aqil is the Wick Cary associate professor in the Department of International and Area Studies at the University of Oklahoma and a visiting scholar in the South Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Aqil is the author of The Army and Democracy: Military Politics in Pakistan, one of the best guides to civil-military relations in Pakistan. Milan and Aqil discuss Imran Khan’s dramatic fall from grace, the challenges facing the new government, and the country’s complicated civil-military power balance. Plus, they talk about what these developments mean for India and Pakistan’s frosty bilateral relationship. Aqil Shah, “The Shambolic End of Imran Khan,” Foreign Affairs, April 15, 2022.Aqil Shah, “Pakistan’s ‘Moderate Taliban’ Strategy Won’t Hold Up—For Anyone,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, September 30, 2021.Aqil Shah, “Pakistan: Voting Under Military Tutelage,” Journal of Democracy 30, no. 1 (2019): 128-142. 
U.S.-India Ties After the ‘2+2’ Summit
Grand Tamasha
access_time4 months ago
Two weeks ago, the foreign and defense ministers of the United States and India met in Washington for the fourth annual U.S.-India “2+2” Dialogue. The annual meeting has become an important focal point in the growing partnership between the United States and India, and this year’s edition received even more scrutiny than usual. For one, it featured a high-level virtual meeting between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and U.S. President Joe Biden. But it also took place against the backdrop of the Russian invasion in Ukraine and tensions in the bilateral relationship over how that conflict should be handled.To discuss the key takeaways from the 2+2, Milan is joined on the show this week by Joshua White. Josh is associate professor of the practice of South Asia studies at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington and a nonresident fellow in the Foreign Policy program at the Brookings Institution. Josh also has extensive experience working in the U.S. government, having done stints at both the National Security Council and the Pentagon. Milan and Josh discuss the trajectory of U.S.-India ties under the Biden administration, the big takeaways from the 2+2, and how the two sides are dealing with the thorny issue of Russia-Ukraine. Plus, Josh gives listeners a behind-the-scenes look at putting together a high-level ministerial summit. Joshua T. White, After the foundational agreements: An agenda for US-India defense and security cooperation(Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 2021)Joshua T. White, “Nonstate threats in the Taliban’s Afghanistan,” February 1, 2022, Brookings Institution, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2022/02/01/nonstate-threats-in-the-talibans-afghanistan/Ashley J. Tellis, “‘What Is in Our Interest’: India and the Ukraine War,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, April 25, 2022.
Making Development Work for the Poor
Grand Tamasha
access_time4 months ago
One of the most vexed questions in development studies is why the poor often receive such poor government services. The development literature is littered with hundreds—if not thousands—of examples of elite capture, weak state capacity, corruption, and subversion. But a focus on the failures obscures the fact that, every once in a while, the state does get it right and the top-down and the bottom-up meet in a place that produces positive benefits for ordinary citizens.How exactly this happens is the subject of a new book by Georgetown University professor Rajesh Veeraraghavan, Patching Development: Information Politics and Social Change in India. Milan and Rajesh discuss how bureaucrats and civil society forged an unlikely partnership in the south Indian state of Andhra Pradesh to implement the world’s largest workfare program at scale. Plus, the two talk about the the role of technology in government, the political economy of India’s National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), and the limits of transparency.  “Information Politics and Social Change,” Ideas of India (podcast) with Shruti Rajagopalan and Rajesh Veeraraghavan, March 3, 2022.Philip Keefer and Stuti Khemani, “Why Do the Poor Receive Poor Services?” Economic and Political Weekly 39, no. 9 (2004): 935-943.Diego Maiorano, “The Politics of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act in Andhra Pradesh,” World Development 58 (2014): 95-105.
Religious Polarization in Karnataka
Grand Tamasha
access_time4 months ago
Over the past two months, the southern Indian state of Karnataka has been the site of significant religious tensions as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government—and Hindu nationalist organizations associated with it—have advanced policies and issued statements that many believe have explicitly targeted Muslims in the state. From a ban on hijabs in school to calls for boycotting Muslim businesses, we are seeing sharpening religious divisions in the state that is home to India’s biggest technology hub, Bangalore.To make sense of the latest developments in the state, Milan is joined on the show this week by Sugata Srinivasaraju, a respected political journalist and author who has been covering political developments in Karnataka for decades. Sugata is the author of several books, including Furrows in a Field: The Unexplored Life of H.D. Deve Gowda.Sugata and Milan discuss the BJP’s rise to prominence in Karnataka—its lone southern stronghold—and the spate of recent controversial developments, from the ban on hijabs in school to calls for boycotting establishments serving halal food. Plus, the two discuss the upcoming 2023 assembly elections, the BJP’s dilemma, and the fractures within the political opposition. Sugata Srinivasaraju, “Balancing Opinion And Diverting Attention,” New Indian Express, April 7, 2022.Soutik Biswas, “Bangalore: How polarisation is dividing India's Silicon Valley,” BBC, April 7, 2022.Pooja Prasanna, “Karnataka’s Hindutva hate politics: Blame it on a weak CM and an edgy Opposition,” The News Minute, April 6, 2022.
Democracy and Anti-Corruption Protests in India
Grand Tamasha
access_time4 months ago
When Ideas Matter: Democracy and Corruption in India is the title of a new book by the author Bilal Baloch. The book provides a framework for understanding how governments respond to credibility crises. We all know that governments act in their own interests—but what are those interests? How are they defined? And where do they come from? These are the questions that Bilal explores in his new book, through an examination of two seminal crises in Indian history: Indira Gandhi’s response to the JP movement in the mid-1970s and the UPA government’s reaction to the India Against Corruption movement a decade ago.Milan and Bilal discuss the role ideas play in shaping government policy during acute crises, the relevance of ideas in interpreting India’s response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the factional divisions that exist within the Modi government. Plus, the two discuss Bilal’s new career as a tech start-up entrepreneur. Christine Hall, “GlobalWonks relaunches as Enquire AI following $5.5M round,” TechCrunch, December 15, 2021.Bilal Baloch, “10 years later, assessing UPA’s response to IAC,” Hindustan Times, December 11, 2021.Sandip Sukhtankar and Milan Vaishnav, “Corruption in India: Bridging ResearchEvidence and Policy Options,” India Policy Forum 11: 193-276.
Russia, China, and Pivotal State Elections
Grand Tamasha
access_time4 months ago
The last few weeks have seen a flurry of activity on the Indian politics and policy front. India has found itself front and center in the Ukraine crisis as it has repeatedly abstained from condemning the Russian invasion. Last week, in a visit that had tongues wagging, the Indian and Chinese foreign ministers met in New Delhi in the first high-level summit in two years. And, we’ve closed the books on five key state elections across the country—in which the ruling Bharaitiya Janata Party (BJP) emerged as victor in four of five contests.To discuss all of the latest developments out of India, Milan is joined by Grand Tamasha news round-up regulars Sadanand Dhume (American Enterprise Institute and the Wall Street Journal) and Tanvi Madan (Brookings Institution). The trio discuss India’s evolving stance on the Russian invasion, Wang Yi’s surprise visit to India, and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s future. Plus, the three discuss what under-reported stories Grand Tamasha listeners should be paying attention to.  Sadanand Dhume, “India Has a Lot to Lose in Ukraine,” Wall Street Journal, February 3, 2022.  Tanvi Madan, “India is Not Sitting on the Geopolitical Fence,” War on the Rocks, October 27, 2021.“India's High-Wire Act on Russia-Ukraine,” (with Raji Rajagopalan), Grand Tamasha, March 2, 2022.
How to Fix India’s Water Crisis
Grand Tamasha
access_time5 months ago
“Water is everywhere—in the highest mountains, in the deepest ocean, in the Ganga, in sewers, within you, and in the air. But the glass of water in front of you is precious because it requires India’s volatile, varied water to be harnessed and brought to your home.” This is one of the main insights of a new book, Watershed: How We Destroyed India’s Water and How We Can Save It, by the author Mridula Ramesh. Ramesh is the founder of the Sundaram Climate Institute, a cleantech investor, and a leading public voice in India’s water and climate debates. Milan sits down with Mridula this week to discuss her 360-degree perspective on India’s water woes and how they can be addressed. The two discuss the origins of India’s water crisis, the role of agriculture, and how ordinary citizens and civil society groups can be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. Chanpreet Khurana, “Mridula Ramesh: "Business leaders exist on a spectrum on 'water/climate awareness',” Moneycontrol, February 20, 2022.“What COP26 Means for India—and the World,” (with Navroz Dubash), Grand Tamasha, November 17, 2021.“How India Can Get to Net Zero Emissions,” (with Jayant Sinha), Grand Tamasha, October 13, 2021.
The Road to the 2024 Election Starts Now
Grand Tamasha
access_time5 months ago
Last week, the results of five assembly elections were announced and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of Prime Minister Narendra Modi claimed impressive victories in four out of five contests—notching wins in Goa, Manipur, Uttarakhand, and Uttar Pradesh. In the state of Punjab, the upstart Aam Aadmi Party won a stunning victory that saw the demise of a whole slew of politicians with household names. The Congress Party, for its part, saw its fortunes diminish to an all-time low.To discuss the drivers of these results—and the impact they have on politics and policy, this week Milan is joined by Sunetra Choudhury, national political editor of the Hindustan Times and a veteran political analyst. Milan and Sunetra discuss the fate of Mandal politics, the future of the Congress, and the position of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. Plus, the two discuss the political and policy impacts of these elections as India turns its attention to the 2024 general election. Mirza Asmer Beg, Shashikant Pandey, and Shreyas Sardesai, “The BJP’s rock solid social coalition,” Hindu, March 12, 2022.Rahul Verma, “Grand Old Party and Its Grand Illusions,” Times of India, March 13, 2022.
How Will the Ukraine Crisis Impact India’s Economy?
Grand Tamasha
access_time5 months ago
This week, the Indian government revealed that India’s economy expanded by 5.4 percent in the third quarter of the current fiscal year, which was well below market expectations. The latest GDP print raises fresh questions about the health of the Indian economy at a time when global headwinds are starting to pick up. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the spike in oil and other commodity prices, and persistent inflation all pose serious risks to India’s macroeconomic outlook.This week on the podcast, Milan sits down with economist Sajjid Chinoy to discuss how India might weather these external shocks. Sajjid is chief India economist at JP Morgan and one of the most respected voices on the Indian macroeconomy. Milan and Sajjid discuss India’s policy trade-offs, the latest underwhelming GDP numbers, and India’s progress on asset sales. Plus, Milan asks Sajjid about the reforms needed to boost India’s long-term growth outlook.  Episode notes:Sajjid Chinoy, “Managing the crude price pressure,” Indian Express, March 4, 2022.Sajjid Chinoy, “4 choices, no free lunch: Budget attempted a balancing act in a complex domestic & global macro environment,” Times of India, February 3, 2022.“Breaking Down India’s Budget,” (with Roshan Kishore), Grand Tamasha, February 16, 2022.Sajjid Chinoy and Toshi Jain, “India’s 4Q21 GDP underwhelms, underscoring the pandemic’s scars,” J.P. Morgan, February 28, 2022.
India's High-Wire Act on Russia-Ukraine
Grand Tamasha
access_time5 months ago
Late last week, Russia launched a full-scale military invasion of Ukraine, deploying the might of the Russian military to conduct a hostile takeover of its sovereign neighbor. Over the past few days, India’s role has received significant attention as it has neither condoned Russia’s behavior nor condemned it in the strongest terms. India has a long strategic relationship with Russia that it can ill afford to rupture when it has thousands of Chinese troops on its northern border. At the same time, there are increasing calls from the West for India to “get off the fence.”This week on the show, Milan sits down with strategic affairs expert Dr. Rajeswari (Raji) Pillai Rajagopalan to talk about the ongoing Ukraine crisis. Dr. Rajagopalan is the director of the Centre for Security, Strategy and Technology at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi. She has extensive experience—both inside and outside of government—on matters of Indian foreign policy and national security. Milan and Raji discuss the history of India-Russia relations, the extent of shared defense ties, and the friction that has developed in the relationship. Plus, the two discuss India’s tight-rope walk on Ukraine and the ramifications of the crisis for the Indo-Pacific. Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan, “Why Did Russian President Putin Visit India?” Observer Research Foundation, December 15, 2021.Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan, “India’s Place in the New U.S. Indo-Pacific Strategy,” Observer Research Foundation, February 24, 2021.Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan, “Putin and Xi Frame a New China-Russia Partnership,” Observer Research Foundation, February 15, 2021.“The Looming Cloud of Sanctions Over U.S.-India Relations,” (with Sameer Lalwani), Grand Tamasha, September 29, 2021.
Nehru's Long Shadow Over India
Grand Tamasha
access_time6 months ago
India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, died nearly six decades ago, but it is remarkable how much his legacy continues to color modern Indian life. From the border dispute with China to debates over fundamental rights and Hindu-Muslim relations, the current policy discourse in India cannot be disentangled from Nehru’s own ideological convictions and those who did battle against him. A new book by Adeel Hussain and Tripurdaman Singh, Nehru: The Debates That Defined India, shines a spotlight on four consequential debates that Nehru engaged in that get to the heart of the Indian polity. The authors join Milan on the show this week to discuss Nehru’s enduring legacy, his intellectual sparring partners, and contentious debates over nationalism, communalism, civil liberties, and foreign policy. “Episode 262: Nehru’s Debates,” (with Adeel Hussain and Tripurdaman Singh), The Seen and The Unseen (podcast), January 31, 2022.Tripurdaman Singh, Sixteen Stormy Days: The Story of the First Amendment of the Constitution of India.“Madhav Khosla on India’s Founding Moment,” Grand Tamasha, January 29, 2020.
Breaking Down India’s Budget
Grand Tamasha
access_time6 months ago
On February 1, the Union government presented its budget for the upcoming fiscal year—setting the tone for its midterm pivot as the government turns toward 2024 and the end of its  second term in office. What are the biggest takeaways from this year’s budget? How did the markets receive it? And what does it tell us about India’s uncertain economic recovery? To discuss these questions and much more, Milan is joined on the podcast this week by Roshan Kishore, data and political economy editor at the Hindustan Times.Milan and Roshan discuss India’s macroeconomic context, the government’s long-term growth strategy, and lagging private demand. Plus, the two discuss potential headwinds arising from the global economy and the debate over India’s long-term trend growth rate. Roshan Kishore, “Math of the economy: How to understand the Budget,” Hindustan Times, February 2, 2022. Roshan Kishore, “Three questions which capture India’s medium-term economic challenge,” Hindustan Times, February 3, 2022.Poonam Gupta, “Budget steers clear of drama in complex economic environment,” Economic Times, February 2, 2022.Rohit Lamba and Raghuram Rajan, “Don’t Mimic China’s Economic Model,” Times of India, February 15, 2022. 
Encore: How Shah Rukh Khan Inspires Female Empowerment
Grand Tamasha
access_time6 months ago
Due to scheduling conflicts, there is no new episode of Grand Tamasha this week. A new episode of Grand Tamasha will air next Tuesday at 9:00 PM EST/Wednesday 7:30 AM IST.Most of our listeners do not need an introduction to the Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan. You’ve watched his movies. You’ve sung the songs his films have popularized. You might even have had his poster on your wall growing up. A new book by the economist Shrayana Bhattacharya, Desperately Seeking Shah Rukh: India's Lonely Young Women and the Search for Intimacy and Independence, describes another role that Shah Rukh has fulfilled: he has been the north star for women across India as they search for intimacy, independence, and empowerment. Shrayana joins Milan on the podcast to discuss her new book—which is part economics tract, part reportage, part social commentary, and part feminist call to arms. Milan and Shrayana discuss how Shah Rukh has become a female (but not feminist) icon, the economics behind the lack of women’s agency in India, and her own struggles with love and loneliness. Plus, the two discuss the mysteries of the Delhi social scene and the ways government policy can help challenge conservative, patriarchal social norms. K.X. Ronnie, “Interview, Shrayana Bhattacharya, author, Desperately Seeking Shah Rukh – “I’m a loud and proud feminist economist,” Hindustan Times, November 27, 2021.Devesh Kapur, Neelanjan Sircar, and Milan Vaishnav, “Introduction to e-Symposium: Urbanisation, gender, and social change in north India,” Ideas for India, December 6, 2021.Milan Vaishnav, “Women and work: How much does measurement matter?” Ideas for India, May 10, 2021.Ruth Pollard, “What a Bollywood Megastar Means for Women in India,” Bloomberg, December 9, 2021.
India’s Future in a Changing Global Order
Grand Tamasha
access_time6 months ago
India’s Path to Power: Strategy in a World Adrift is a manifesto written by eight of India’s leading public intellectuals that seeks to chart a future course for Indian’s foreign policy. But, unlike most foreign policy reports, it delves into thorny issues of economics, climate change, global governance, and India’s domestic politics. This week on the show, Milan is joined by one of the report’s key authors, Ambassador Shivshankar Menon. Ambassador Menon is a distinguished fellow at the Centre for Social and Economic Progress in New Delhi and has had a long and distinguished career in government—serving as national security advisor, foreign secretary, and high commissioner to China and Pakistan, among other notable positions. Milan and Ambassador Menon discuss the India-China-U.S. triangle, the fate of India’s “Neighborhood First” policy, and the state of civil-military relations. Plus, the two talk about the centrality of democracy at home to India’s power projection abroad. Episode notes:India’s Path to Power: Strategy in a World Adrift, Centre for Policy Research and Takshashila Institution.“The Biden-Modi Summit and the Future of U.S.-India Relations” (with Ashley Tellis), Grand Tamasha, September 22, 2021.
Can India Beat COVID in 2022?
Grand Tamasha
access_time7 months ago
On Sunday, January 23, India reported more than 333,000 active COVID cases while the official number of fatalities surpassed 500 deaths. What is the state of COVID in India today? What lessons has this pandemic imparted? And what, if anything, does COVID mean for the future of economics and politics in the country. To discuss these questions and to kick off the seventh season of the podcast, Milan speaks with Sukumar Ranganathan, editor-in-chief of the Hindustan Times, on the show this week.Milan asks Sukumar to assess India’s COVID response, the impact the pandemic has had on federalism, and whether India’s economy has turned a corner. Plus, Milan and Sukumar discuss whether COVID has fundamentally changed India’s future economic and political trajectories.Sukumar Ranganathan, “In 2022, what India must do to learn to live with Covid,” Hindustan Times, December 11, 2021.“Anup Malani on India’s COVID Second Wave,” Grand Tamasha, April 27, 2021.“Niha Masih on Reporting on India's COVID-19 Crisis,” Grand Tamasha, June 16, 2021
The State, the Economy, and the Art of Podcasting
Grand Tamasha
access_time8 months ago
This week, we conclude Season Six of Grand Tamasha with a bang. Before Milan was a podcast host, he was a podcast consumer. And two of his favorite India podcasts are “The Seen and the Unseen” with Amit Varma and “Ideas of India” with Shruti Rajagopalan. So, what better way to end our season than with a massive mash-up of three leading India podcasts. Amit and Shruti join Milan on the show this week to discuss the relevance of Lant Pritchett’s popular characterization of India as a “flailing state” and whether there is such a thing as the “Modi economic doctrine” eight years into his prime ministership. Plus, the three discuss the art and science of podcasting. Grand Tamasha will be taking a little holiday break, but we will be back in late January with a new season of insightful conversations on Indian politics and policy. Stay tuned for more information about our new season! Lant Pritchett, “Is India a Flailing State?: Detours on the Four Lane Highway to Modernization,” Harvard Kennedy School.Shruti Rajagopalan and Alex Tabarrok, “Premature Imitation and India’s Flailing State,” The Independent Review.Keshava Guha, “In Farmers vs Modi, A Big Lesson For Congress,” NDTV.com.Amit Varma, “Narendra Modi Takes a Great Leap Backwards,” Times of India.Amit Varma, “#9: Why Are My Episodes so Long?” The India Uncut Newsletter.Emergent Ventures, Mercatus Center at George Mason University.“The Seen and The Unseen” book project.Amit Varma, “We Are Fighting Two Disasters: Covid-19 and the Indian State,” Times of India.Amit Varma, “Lessons from an Ankhon Dekhi Prime Minister,” Times of India.W.S. Merwin, “Separation.”   
How Shah Rukh Khan Inspires Female Empowerment
Grand Tamasha
access_time8 months ago
Most of our listeners do not need an introduction to the Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan. You’ve watched his movies. You’ve sung the songs his films have popularized. You might even have had his poster on your wall growing up. A new book by the economist Shrayana Bhattacharya, Desperately Seeking Shah Rukh: India's Lonely Young Women and the Search for Intimacy and Independence, describes another role that Shah Rukh has fulfilled: he has been the north star for women across India as they search for intimacy, independence, and empowerment. Shrayana joins Milan on the podcast to discuss her new book—which is part economics tract, part reportage, part social commentary, and part feminist call to arms. Milan and Shrayana discuss how Shah Rukh has become a female (but not feminist) icon, the economics behind the lack of women’s agency in India, and her own struggles with love and loneliness. Plus, the two discuss the mysteries of the Delhi social scene and the ways government policy can help challenge conservative, patriarchal social norms. K.X. Ronnie, “Interview, Shrayana Bhattacharya, author, Desperately Seeking Shah Rukh – “I’m a loud and proud feminist economist,” Hindustan Times, November 27, 2021.Devesh Kapur, Neelanjan Sircar, and Milan Vaishnav, “Introduction to e-Symposium: Urbanisation, gender, and social change in north India,” Ideas for India, December 6, 2021.Milan Vaishnav, “Women and work: How much does measurement matter?” Ideas for India, May 10, 2021.Ruth Pollard, “What a Bollywood Megastar Means for Women in India,” Bloomberg, December 9, 2021.   
Tibet: India and China's 'Three-Body Problem' in the Himalayas
Grand Tamasha
access_time8 months ago
Ambassador Nirupama Rao has had the kind of career that every Indian Foreign Service aspirant dreams of. In 2011, she retired as foreign secretary to the Government of India, the most senior position in the foreign service. She has served as spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs, ambassador to Sri Lanka, ambassador to China, and ambassador to the United States of America. She is also the author of a new book, The Fractured Himalaya: India Tibet China, 1949-62. The book is a deep dive into one of the most consequential periods of India-China relations—a period whose repercussions are felt even today. Ambassador Rao joins Milan on the podcast this week to discuss Nehru’s long fascination with China, his inability to settle India’s border dispute with China, and his “flawed heroic” character. Plus, the two discuss the current state of border tensions and the deep roots of China’s infrastructure advantage in the Himalayas.“Pallavi Raghavan on an Alternative History of India-Pakistan Relations,” Grand Tamasha, April 7, 2020.“Modi's Farm Law Reversal, India-China, and Trade Policy,” Grand Tamasha, November 23, 2021.“Kanti Bajpai on Why China and India Are Not Friends,” Grand Tamasha, July 6, 2021.C. Raja Mohan, “Nirupama Rao’s latest book, The Fractured Himalaya, is a lucid account of Sino-Indian relations,” Indian Express, November 7, 2021. 
Unpacking the Modi Government's Farm Law Reversal
Grand Tamasha
access_time8 months ago
In September 2020, India’s Parliament passed three farm reform bills that the government claimed would radically change the way in which agriculture was practiced in the country. Yet, just over twelve months later, the same government announced its intention to repeal those laws—a major concession to large-scale, dogged protests launched by farmers in northern India. The repeal of the farm reform laws, hailed by many observers as a short-term victory for struggling farmers, has also raised complex questions about the future of agriculture in a rapidly urbanizing India. To consider some of these questions, Milan is joined on the podcast this week by Harish Damodaran. Harish is a senior fellow at the Centre for Policy Research in Delhi, where he is enjoying a sabbatical from his day job as national rural affairs and agriculture editor at The Indian Express. Harish and Milan talk about the state of Indian agriculture, the motivations behind the farm reform laws, and the complex reasons the government eventually withdrew them. Plus, the two discuss the next stage of farmers’ demands and what this setback does to the larger push for agrarian reform. Harish Damodaran, “In burying farm laws, Govt may have held off demand for right to MSP,” Indian Express, November 20, 2021. Harish Damodaran, “Farm Bills 2020: Actual text vs perception,” Indian Express, September 21, 2020.Mukulika Banerjee, “The Rural Roots of Citizenship and Democracy in India,” Grand Tamasha, November 9, 2021.Yamini Aiyar and Mekhala Krishnamurthy, “The farm laws: Why this is not a 1991 moment,” Hindustan Times, November 26, 2021.  
Modi's Farm Law Reversal, India-China, and Trade Policy
Grand Tamasha
access_time9 months ago
We are nearly done with our sixth season of Grand Tamasha and we have been shamefully overdue in scheduling a news round-up for the Fall.To set things straight and to discuss the latest news coming out of India, Milan is joined on the podcast this week by Grand Tamasha regulars Sadanand Dhume of AEI and the Wall Street Journal and Tanvi Madan of the Brookings Institution. The three discuss the Modi government’s abrupt about-turn on the farm law bills, the perilous state of China-India relations, and new murmurs out of Delhi on the trade policy front. Plus, Tanvi, Sadanand, and Milan discuss three stories coming out of India that podcast regulars should be following. Sadanand Dhume, “Farmers Will Reap the Benefits of Modi’s Reforms,” Wall Street Journal, October 1, 2020.Sadanand Dhume, “What New Delhi Needs to Stand Up to Beijing,” Wall Street Journal, November 11, 2021.Tanvi Madan, “Major Power Rivalry in South Asia,” Council on Foreign Relations, October 2021.  
What COP26 Means for India—and the World
Grand Tamasha
access_time9 months ago
After two, torturous weeks of around-the-clock negotiations at the COP26 Summit in Glasgow, Scotland, diplomats from nearly 200 countries agreed to accelerate their commitments to reduce carbon emissions, phase out fossil fuels, and ramp up aid to poor countries, many of whom are the biggest victims of the climate crisis.  However, not everyone is pleased with the outcome in Glasgow. Climate experts point out that the accord will not put the world on track to avoid catastrophic warming beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius. To discuss the Glasgow accord, India’s commitments, and the questions that remain, Milan is joined on the show this week by Navroz Dubash, a professor at the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi and a veteran energy and climate scholar, policy adviser, and activist.  Navroz and Milan discuss the big takeaways from COP26, India’s surprise net-zero pledge, and an eleventh hour fracas over language on coal. Plus, the two discuss the credibility deficit plaguing the United States’ climate diplomacy.  Jayant Sinha, “How India Can Get to Net Zero Emissions,” Grand Tamasha, October 12, 2021. Navroz Dubash, “Understanding India’s climate pledges,” Hindustan Times, November 12, 2021. Navroz Dubash, “Unlocking climate action in Indian federalism,” Hindustan Times, August 11, 2021. 
The Rural Roots of Citizenship and Democracy in India
Grand Tamasha
access_time9 months ago
For more than fifteen years, the scholar Mukulika Banerjee has been deeply embedded in the social and political life of two villages in the state of West Bengal—studying developments there, both during elections and between them. Her new book, “Cultivating Democracy: Politics and Citizenship in Agrarian India,” is a deeply researched study of Indian democracy that shows how agrarian life creates values of citizenship and active engagement that are essential for the cultivation of democracy. Mukulika Banerjee is an associate professor in social anthropology at the London School of Economics, and she joins Milan on the podcast this week to discuss the importance of India’s status as a “republic,” what B.R. Ambedkar got wrong about rural life, and popular misconceptions about agriculture. Plus, the two discuss the evolution of Bengali politics and the regional roots of illiberalism. Mukulika Banerjee, “Elections as Communitas,” Social Research, Spring 2011. Mukulika Banerjee, “A small ‘feastie’ in a Republic’s anniversary,” Indian Express, January 26, 2020. Pradeep K. Chhibber and Amit Ahuja, “Why the Poor Vote in India: 'If I Don't Vote, I Am Dead to the State,’” Studies in International Comparative Development, 2012. Christophe Jaffrelot, “Narendra Modi and India's New Political System,” Grand Tamasha, October 5, 2021. 
How the Pulwama Case was Cracked
Grand Tamasha
access_time9 months ago
On February 14, 2019, a suicide bomber crashed into an Indian paramilitary convoy in Pulwama, Kashmir, killing forty Indian soldiers. The attack was the deadliest assault on Indian security personnel in Kashmir in three decades and captured the attention of domestic and international headlines. It also led to a nationalist fervor that fueled, in part, the BJP’s dramatic reelection just months later in the 2019 general election.How did the attack take place? Who were the masterminds of the operation? And how does this attack fit into a decades-long story of terrorism, militancy, and spycraft that has come to define the contemporary politics of Kashmir? These questions are clinically addressed in a new book by the journalist Rahul Pandita, The Lover Boy of Bahawalpur: How the Pulwama Case was Cracked. This week, Rahul joins Milan on the show to discuss the inside story of the Pulwama attacks, the Indian investigation into the attack’s masterminds, and India’s retaliatory airstrikes on Pakistani territory. Plus, the two discuss the legacy of the Modi government’s abrogation of Article 370 and the nature of the terrorism threat in Kashmir today.Episode notes:“Rahul Pandita on Kashmir: ‘You can leave Kashmir but Kashmir never leaves you,’” Grand Tamasha, August 29, 2021.Adrian Levy, “Inside the Secret World of South Asia's Spies,” Grand Tamasha, October 26, 2021.Rahul Pandita, “Kashmir’s New Insurgency,” Open Magazine, October 22, 2021.Rahul Pandita, “The Usual Suspects,” Open Magazine, September 10, 2021.
Inside the Secret World of South Asia's Spies
Grand Tamasha
access_time10 months ago
Spy Stories: Inside the Secret World of the RAW and the ISI  is the brand new book by investigative journalists Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark. Spy Stories relies on unprecedented access to top military and intelligence officials in both India and Pakistan to shed light on some of the most consequential crises in recent South Asian history—from the 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament, to the 2011 killing of Osama bin Laden, and the suicide bombing in Pulwama on the eve of India’s 2019 general election.This week on the show, Milan sits down with Levy to discuss the secret world of South Asia’s top spies. The two discuss the different trajectories of the ISI and RAW, the defining character of India’s current National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, the roots of turmoil in Kashmir, and the long shadow of the IC 814 hijacking. Plus, Milan asks Adrian about the terror outlook for India in the wake of America’s Afghanistan exit. “What the Taliban Takeover Means for India,” Grand Tamasha, September 14, 2021.Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark, The Siege: The Attack on the Taj (Penguin, 2013).Aqil Shah, “How Will the Taliban Deal With Other Islamic Extremist Groups?” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, August 31, 2021.
Joanna Slater on the Pivotal Stories She Covered in India for the Washington Post
Grand Tamasha
access_time10 months ago
Joanna Slater is a veteran journalist who served as the Washington Post India bureau chief based in New Delhi from 2018-2021. She was posted there during one of the most consequential periods in recent Indian history—covering the 2019 general elections, the abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir, the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pegasus hacking revelations, and much more. This week on the show, Joanna joins Milan to talk about her tenure in New Delhi and what she learned on the job.The two discuss Joanna’s long history with India, the constraints journalists face while carrying out their jobs, and what it was like to cover some of the biggest stories in recent years from the ground. Plus, the two discuss how Joanna met her future husband on the set of a Bollywood hit movie starring Aamir Khan and the India story that Joanna still dreams about.“Niha Masih on Reporting on India’s COVID-19 Crisis,” Grand Tamasha, June 15, 2021.Joanna Slater and Niha Masih, “The spyware is sold to governments to fight terrorism. In India, it was used to hack journalists and others,” Washington Post, July 19, 2021.Joanna Slater and Shams Irfan, “Inside a Delhi hospital, oxygen runs fatally short as covid cases mount,” Washington Post, April 24, 2021.Niha Masih and Joanna Slater, “They were accused of plotting to overthrow the Modi government. The evidence was planted, a new report says,” Washington Post, February 10, 2021.Joanna Slater, “A young Indian couple married for love. Then the bride’s father hired assassins,” Washington Post, August 19, 2019.Joanna Slater, “In Modi’s move on Kashmir, a road map for his ‘new India,’” Washington Post, August 15, 2019.Joanna Slater, “In the world’s biggest election, India’s Narendra Modi pushes fear over hope,” Washington Post, April 11, 2019.
How India Can Get to Net Zero Emissions
Grand Tamasha
access_time10 months ago
In a few weeks, climate negotiators from around the world will descend on Glasgow, Scotland, for the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP 26. Amid dire warnings from climate scientists about our warming planet and desperate calls for stepped-up action, India finds itself at the center of the conversation. At home, Indians are debating how to tackle climate change without hampering an economy that has started to slowly recover from the COVID pandemic.   To discuss India’s options and the path forward, Milan is joined on  this week’s show by Jayant Sinha, a key figure in India’s ongoing climate change debate. Jayant is a member of Parliament from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the chairperson for the Standing Committee on Finance. He’s also authored or co-authored several publications advocating for India to adopt a net-zero approach.Milan and Jayant discuss possible pathways for India’s future carbon emissions, the arguments for and against a net-zero approach, and what lessons India can draw from international experience. Plus, the two discuss what responsibilities countries like the United State have when it comes to helping India and other developing countries address the climate challenge. Chloe Farand, “Indian lawmaker submits private bill to achieve net zero emissions by 2050,” Climate Home News, March 18, 2021. Jayant Sinha, “India's search for greener pastures should end in a climate change law,” Economic Times, March 10, 2021Jayant Sinha et al., Getting to the Green Frontier, Observer Research Foundation, 2020.Jayant Sinha and Anshu Bhardwaj, “The many paths to a greener future,” Business Standard, July 22, 2021
Narendra Modi and India's New Political System
Grand Tamasha
access_time10 months ago
French political scientist Christophe Jaffrelot’s new book, Modi’s India: Hindu Nationalism and the Rise of Ethnic Democracy, is a comprehensive exploration of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi—its origins, policies, philosophy, and relationship to democracy. Patrick Heller of Brown University calls the book “the most detailed, theoretically sophisticated, and comprehensive analysis of the rise of Modi’s BJP as a dominant electoral force.”Christophe joins Milan on the podcast to talk about Modi’s rise to national prominence, his relationship with the Sangh Parivar, and the constraints that exist on his power. Plus, the two discuss the state of individual freedoms in India today and why Christophe believes that the BJP dominance under Modi represents a new political system in India, rather than just a new party system.Episode notes:Christophe Jaffrelot and Pratinav Anil, India’s First Dictatorship: The Emergency, 1975-77 (Oxford University Press, 2021).Angana P. Chatterji, Thomas Blom Hansen, and Christophe Jaffrelot, eds., Majoritarian State: How Hindu Nationalism is Changing India (Oxford University Press, 2019).“Christophe Jaffrelot on India’s First Dictatorship,” Grand Tamasha, April 13, 2021. 
The Looming Cloud of Sanctions Over U.S.-India Relations
Grand Tamasha
access_time11 months ago
Last week, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made his maiden visit to Washington under the new Biden administration. It was all sunlight and good vibes and—for a week—American and Indian policymakers ignored the fact that a darkening cloud is gathering over U.S.-India relations in the form of potential U.S. sanctions. Milan’s guest on the show this week, political scientist Sameer Lalwani, thinks that this threat of sanctions is very much real. Sameer is a senior fellow in Asia strategy at the Stimson Center in Washington and an expert on issues ranging from nuclear deterrence to national security decision and counterinsurgency. Sameer and Milan discuss how India might run afoul of the U.S. Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), what the Biden administration might do to avoid a crisis in bilateral relations, and how India might help its own case. Plus, the two discuss how the fallout in Afghanistan will affect India-Pakistan relations and the prospect of future violence between the two nuclear-armed neighbors.Sameer Lalwani, “What India can do to avoid US sanctions over Russia,” Hindustan Times, September 22, 2021.Sameer Lalwani, “Strategizing to Exit Afghanistan: From Risk Avoidance to Risk Management,” War on the Rocks, March 29, 2021. Sameer Lalwani and Tyler Sagerstrom, “What the India–Russia Defence Partnership Means for US Policy,” Survival (2021).Sameer Lalwani, Frank O’Donnell, Tyler Sagerstrom, and Akriti Vasudeva, “The Influence of Arms: Explaining the Durability of India–Russia Alignment,” Journal of Indo-Pacific Affairs, January 15, 2021.Sameer Lalwani, “America Can’t Ignore the Next Indo-Pakistani Crisis,” War on the Rocks, February 26, 2021. Ashley J. Tellis, “The Biden-Modi Summit and the Future of U.S.-India Relations,” Grand Tamasha, September 21, 2021.
The Biden-Modi Summit and the Future of U.S.-India Relations
Grand Tamasha
access_time11 months ago
This week, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives in Washington for his first in-person meeting in the American capital with U.S. President Joe Biden. Modi, Biden, and the leaders of Australia and Japan will also be gathering for an in-person edition of the Quad Leader’s summit. To understand what’s on the agenda and what it means for the United States and for India, Milan is joined this week by Ashley J. Tellis. Ashley holds the Tata Chair for Strategic Affairs and is a senior fellow at Carnegie.Milan and Ashley discuss the agenda for the coming Biden-Modi summit, turbulence in U.S.-India relations, and whether the Quad is paying dividends. Plus, the two speak about the impact of regime change in Afghanistan on India, on U.S.-Pakistan ties, and the future of U.S.-India cooperation in the region. Evan S. Medeiros and Ashley J. Tellis, “Regime Change Is Not an Option in China,” Foreign Affairs, July 8, 2021.Ashley J. Tellis, “Well Begun Is Half Done? Managing U.S.-India Relations,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, April 27, 2021.Ashley J. Tellis interview with Karan Thapar, “Taliban Win Big Setback for India but India’s Importance for US Has Sharply Increased,”The Wire, September 7, 2021.
What the Taliban Takeover Means for India
Grand Tamasha
access_time11 months ago
It’s been a month since the fall of Kabul and the sudden Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. In the intervening weeks, policymakers the world over have been scrambling to understand the reasons for the sudden collapse of the Afghan government, the real aims of the new Taliban regime, and the geopolitical implications of this crisis for the region AND for the world.To kick off the sixth season of Grand Tamasha, this week Milan is joined by Avinash Paliwal to discuss what these developments mean for India. Avinash is a senior lecturer in international relations and deputy director of the SOAS South Asia Institute. His book, My Enemy’s Enemy: India in Afghanistan from the Soviet Invasion to the US Withdrawal, is one of the best guides we have to understanding India’s role in Afghanistan.Milan speaks with Avinash about the notion of a “Taliban 2.0”, the composition of the new Taliban government, the divisions within the Pakistani establishment, and India’s back-channel talks with the Taliban. Plus, the two of them discuss what the crisis means for U.S.-India relations and India’s counterterrorism priorities.  Episode notes:Avinash Paliwal, “A strategic shock for the subcontinent,” Hindustan Times, August 25, 2021.Stephanie Findlay and Amy Kazmin, “Taliban cabinet shows west has little leverage over Afghanistan’s new rulers,” Financial Times, September 8, 2021.Devirupa Mitra, “India's New Visa Policy for Afghans Is in Limbo, Leaving Thousands Tense,” The Wire, September 7, 2021.Amy Kazmin, “Taliban mount charm offensive to win Afghans’ trust,” Financial Times, September 3, 2021.
Kanti Bajpai on Why China and India Are Not Friends
Grand Tamasha
access_time1 year ago
One year ago, Chinese and Indian forces traded blows in the remote Galwan Valley—resulting in the first deaths along the Line of Actual Control since 1975. Months later, India would be hit by the coronavirus, whose precise origin story in China we still do not fully understand. Indian public opinion towards China has soured and Beijing has nervously watched India double-down on its engagement with the so-called “Quad.”It’s against this backdrop that the scholar Kanti Bajpai has released a timely new book, India Versus China: Why They Are Not Friends. Kanti is the Director of the Centre on Asia and Globalisation and Wilmar Professor of Asian Studies at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore and he joins Milan on the podcast this week.The two discuss the untold pre-history of the Chinese-Indian rivalry, the sources of the trust deficit between the two countries, and China’s surprising soft power advantage. Plus, the two discuss possible scenarios for China-India conflict and India’s pressing domestic reforms agenda. Grand Tamasha, “Darshana Baruah on the Indian Ocean Imperative,” April 6, 2021Grand Tamasha, “Ananth Krishnan on What China’s Rise Means for India,” October 20, 2020Grand Tamasha, “Ashley J. Tellis on India’s China Conundrum,” September 22, 2020“Off the Cuff with Kanti Bajpai,” ThePrintKanti Bajpai, “Why does China consistently beat India on soft power?” Indian Express, June 23, 2021
Neha Sahgal on Religion and Identity in Contemporary India
Grand Tamasha
access_time1 year ago
Over the last two-and-a-half years, Milan and his guests have spent a lot of time on the podcast talking about some of the biggest questions facing Indian society. What is driving an increase in religious nationalism? To what extent is religious intolerance on the rise? Is caste morphing from a marker of hierarchy to a marker of difference? And what, if anything, does it mean to be truly Indian?These are just some of the questions a landmark new study by the Pew Research Center—released today—asks and answers, drawing on an important new survey of religion, identity, and belonging. On the show this week, Milan is joined by Neha Sahgal, associate director of research at Pew and one of the lead investigators of this new work. Milan and Neha discuss the coexistence of religious tolerance and religious segregation in India, the salience of caste identity and Hindu nationalism, and the evidence for “secularization theory.” Plus, the two discuss why South India is an outlier in many respects and what larger lessons the study holds for Indian democracy. Neha Sahgal et al,"Religion in India: Tolerance and Segregation," Pew Research Center.
Arora Akanksha on Her Unlikely Quest to Run the United Nations
Grand Tamasha
access_time1 year ago
Note: Milan’s interview with Arora Akanksha took place on June 18. On June 19, the United Nations General Assembly formally approved a second term for the incumbent António Guterres—officially bringing the selection process to a close. Earlier this month, the United Nations Security Council recommended the reelection of António Guterres as secretary-general, virtually assuring the Portuguese leader a second term at the helm of one of the world’s most consequential bodies. But not everyone is standing by to coronate Mr. Guterres. Arora Akanksha—a Canadian citizen of Indian heritage—is running an insurgent campaign to unseat the incumbent Secretary-General. Her campaign has attracted attention—not only for its boldness—but also because Ms. Akanksha has spent the last several years toiling inside the UN and has been unafraid to call out its shortcomings from within.Arora joins Milan on the podcast this week. The two of them discuss her north Indian roots, circuitous path to the UN, and unlikely decision to run for the UN’s top job. Plus, the two discuss Arora’s diagnosis of what ails the UN and her priorities for reform.  Rick Gladstone, “Who Is Arora Akanksha, the 34-Year-Old Running for U.N. Secretary General?” New York TimesAdam Iscoe, “On the Secret Campaign Trail to Lead the U.N.” New YorkerStephanie Fillion, “A Millennial UN Staffer Who Is Daring to Run Against Secretary-General António Guterres,” PassBlue
Niha Masih on Reporting on India's COVID-19 Crisis
Grand Tamasha
access_time1 year ago
In India, there are growing signs that the country is slowly exiting the second wave of the COVID crisis as people get back to work, localities lift lockdown restrictions, and markets reopen. But the second wave leaves behind a trail of devastation, loss, and widespread anger. And Indians may not have much time to enjoy a return to normalcy, as government officials are already warning of a third wave of the virus.To discuss where things stand in India today, Milan is joined Niha Masih, a Delhi-based correspondent for the Washington Post. Niha reflects on her family’s struggle with the COVID-19 pandemic, the mental toll the pandemic has taken, and the under-reported challenges rural India faces. Plus, the two discuss the Indian government’s new vaccine policy and the political implications of the crisis for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.Niha Masih, “My whole family was infected in India’s devastating coronavirus surge. Not all survived,” Washington PostNiha Masih and Taniya Dutta, “As India’s pandemic surge eases, a race begins to prepare for a possible next wave,” Washington PostNiha Masih, “India’s coronavirus crisis spreads to its villages, where health care is hard to find,” Washington PostJoanna Slater, Niha Masih, and Shams Irfan, “In an Indian city, obituaries reveal missing coronavirus deaths and untold suffering,” Washington PostJoanna Slater and Niha Masih, “In India’s devastating coronavirus surge, anger at Modi grows,” Washington PostMilan Vaishnav, “Will voters hold Modi to account for India’s covid-19 crisis? Don’t bet on it,” Washington Post“Sadanand Dhume and Tanvi Madan on the political and foreign policy ramifications of India's COVID second wave,” Grand Tamasha“Samanth Subramanian on India’s Vaccine Conundrum,” Grand Tamasha“Anup Malani on India’s COVID Second Wave,” Grand Tamasha
Sumitra Badrinathan, Devesh Kapur, and Jonathan Kay on How Indian Americans Live
Grand Tamasha
access_time1 year ago
A troubling surge in hate crimes and discrimination targeting Asian Americans has hit the headlines in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The violence has cast a newfound spotlight on the bigotry many Asian immigrant populations experience in the United States.While Indian Americans have not borne the brunt of the discrimination of the COVID era, the community is no stranger to prejudice. A new study by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Johns Hopkins-SAIS, and the University of Pennsylvania looks at the question of discrimination and the broader social realities of the Indian diaspora of the United States.Milan is a co-author of this study, and this week he sits down with his fellow co-authors—Sumitra Badrinathan, Devesh Kapur, and Jonathan Kay—to discuss the report’s findings. They discuss the degree of everyday discrimination Indian Americans face, the connection between polarization in India and divisions in the United States, and the ways in which divides in the diaspora could affect U.S.-India relations. Plus, the group reflects on larger issues of identity, social networks, and belonging in the Indian diaspora.Episode notes:Sumitra Badrinathan, Devesh Kapur, Jonathan Kay, and Milan Vaishnav, “Social Realities of Indian Americans: Results From the 2020 Indian American Attitudes Survey”Grand Tamasha, “Sumitra Badrinathan and Devesh Kapur Decode the 2020 Indian American Vote”Grand Tamasha, “Sumitra Badrinathan and Devesh Kapur on How Indian Americans View India”Sumitra Badrinathan, Devesh Kapur, and Milan Vaishnav, “How Will Indian Americans Vote? Results From the 2020 Indian American Attitudes Survey”Sumitra Badrinathan, Devesh Kapur, and Milan Vaishnav, “How Do Indian Americans View India? Results From the 2020 Indian American Attitudes Survey”
Sadanand Dhume and Tanvi Madan on the political and foreign policy ramifications of India's COVID second wave
Grand Tamasha
access_time1 year ago
This week on the show, Milan is joined by Grand Tamasha news round-up regulars Sadanand Dhume of the American Enterprise Institute and the Wall Street Journal and Tanvi Madan of the Brookings Institution. This week, Milan, Sadanand, and Tanvi discuss the political state of affairs in India in the wake of recent state elections, the foreign policy ramifications of the COVID-19 second wave, and the government’s ongoing tussle with social media companies.Plus, the three speculate about who will lead the opposition in India’s 2024 general elections. Episode notes:Sadanand Dhume, “Modi Declared Victory, Then Covid Struck Back With a Vengeance,” Wall Street JournalSadanand Dhume, “India’s Second Covid Wave Recedes. Will a Third One Sweep In?” Wall Street Journal Dhruva Jaishankar and Tanvi Madan, “How the Quad Can Match the Hype,” Foreign Affairs
Rachel Brulé on Gender Quotas and Gender Inequality in India
Grand Tamasha
access_time1 year ago
In the early 1990s, India legislated sweeping new gender quotas in local government in the hopes that women’s political empowerment would help to rectify centuries-old social and economic inequalities. But, despite these moves, we know surprisingly little about whether and how quotas have undone entrenched social, political, and economic hierarchies around the world.A new book by the political scientist Rachel Brulé—Women, Power and Property: The Paradox of Gender Inequality Laws in India—tackles precisely this question through a broad-ranging study of quotas in India and their impacts not just on women’s lives, but on the broader system of status hierarchy and dominance that permeates Indian society.Rachel, an assistant professor of global development policy at the Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University, joins Milan on the show this week to talk about her new book, the entrenched nature of gender inequality in India and around the world, and the complex effects of quotas on development outcomes in India. Plus, the two discuss the prospects of the Women’s Reservation Bill, a long-pending bill that would reserve one-third of parliamentary and state assembly seats in India for women.Episode notes:Rachel Brulé and Nikhar Gaikwad, “Culture, Capital and the Political Economy Gender Gap: Evidence from Meghalaya’s Matrilineal Tribes,” Journal of PoliticsRachel Brulé, “Reform, Representation & Resistance: The Politics of Property Rights’ Enforcement,” Journal of PoliticsIsabel Wilkerson, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents
Samanth Subramanian on India’s Vaccine Conundrum
Grand Tamasha
access_time1 year ago
One of the enduring puzzles about the tragic second wave of COVID is how India, the world’s largest vaccine producer, faces an alarming shortage of vaccines. A new essay by the journalist Samanth Subramanian for the online news organization Quartz argues that there’s no single answer, but rather a “timeline of dysfunction” marked by what he calls “government negligence, corporate profiteering, opaque contracting, and the inequities of the global pharmaceutical market."Samanth is a senior reporter at Quartz covering the future of capitalism. He has previously written for the Guardian Long Read, the New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, and WIRED. He's also the author of three books, including A Dominant Character: The Radical Science and Restless Politics of JBS Haldane, one of the New York Times'  100 Notable Books of 2020. Samanth is Milan’s guest on the show this week and the two discuss how the Indian government has managed the deadly second wave of the COVID pandemic, the role the Serum Institute of India and its enigmatic CEO have played in India’s vaccine production, and the patchy rollout of the government’s vaccine delivery. Plus, the two discuss what the United States and the international community must do to help vaccinate the developing world.Episode notes:Samanth Subramanian, “In the push for new vaccines, taxpayers keep paying and paying,” Quartz.Samanth Subramanian, “The US’ support for vaccine patent waivers still leaves plenty to be resolved,” Quartz.Samanth Subramanian, “Why is India, the world’s largest vaccine producer, running short of vaccines?” Quartz.Samanth Subramanian, “India is feeling all the pain—and none of the gain—of an undeclared lockdown,” Quartz. 
Himanshu Jha on the Right to Information Act’s Long and Winding Road
Grand Tamasha
access_time1 year ago
More than fifteen years ago, India’s parliament passed a sweeping piece of legislation known as the Right to Information Act—a law that transforms the way ordinary citizens access the inner workings of government, offering them an unprecedented glimpse into how policy is made, how funds are allocated, and how interests are served. A new book by the political scientist Himanshu Jha, Capturing Institutional Change: The Case of the Right to Information Act, asks a seemingly simple question: why would a state that is so deeply penetrated by vested interests, initiate a far-reaching process of reform that would expose the very special interests who have benefited from opacity in the first place? This week on the podcast, Milan sits down with Himanshu, who is a lecturer and research fellow in the Department of Political Science at the South Asia Institute at Heidelberg University. The two talk about the domestic and foreign origins of law, the implementation challenges it has faced, the ways in which it has challenged vested interests, and how the government has tried to undermine transparency. 
Aditi Phadnis on India's Pivotal State Elections
Grand Tamasha
access_time1 year ago
On Sunday, the highly anticipated results from five state assembly elections across India were announced. These results come at a time of great uncertainty in India as the country is in the throes of a devastating second wave of the coronavirus, which is racking up nearly 400,000 new cases every day. To help make sense of these elections and how they fit into the broader Indian political landscape, this week on the show Milan speaks with veteran journalist Aditi Phadnis, political editor at the Business Standard. Aditi and Milan discuss the reasons behind Mamata Banerjee’s decisive victory in West Bengal, the Left’s historic showing in Kerala, the BJP’s win in Assam, and the DMK’s comeback in Tamil Nadu. Plus, the two discuss the implications of this election for Indian federalism, governance, and the popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.  Episode notes: Milan Vaishnav, “Will voters hold Modi to account for India’s covid-19 crisis? Don’t bet on it,” Washington PostNeelanjan Sircar, “The Bengal model to counter the BJP,” Hindustan TimesAditi Phadnis, “It's BJP again in Assam, but who will be the next chief minister?” Business StandardAditi Phadnis, “Going gets tougher for Modi govt as election results favour Opposition,” Business StandardAditi Phadnis, “Mamata Banerjee's wheelchair stops the BJP juggernaut in West Bengal,” Business StandardAditi Phadnis, “National politics set to change as Mamata Banerjee keeps West Bengal,” Business Standard 
Anup Malani on India’s COVID Second Wave
Grand Tamasha
access_time1 year ago
It has been a harrowing week for India. The country is reeling under the effects of a devastating second wave of the coronavirus, which is responsible for more than 300,000 new cases a day and more than 2,000 fatalities. And these official numbers are almost certainly a dramatic undercount. To understand what is driving this new second wave of the virus and the global health implications of the surge, professor Anup Malani joins Milan on the show this week. Anup is the Lee and Brena Freeman professor at the University of Chicago Law School and a professor at the Pritzker School of Medicine. Anup and Milan discuss India’s second COVID wave—what we know, what we don’t know, and what we need to find out. Plus, they discuss the findings of numerous serological studies Anup and his co-authors have conducted across India, the contested role of lockdowns, and the worrying prospect of vaccine nationalism. Episode notes:Anup Malani, “Research Notes” newsletterSerological studies carried out by Anup Malani and his co-authorsArvind Gupta et al, “To Friends in the United States: Facilitate Global Vaccine Manufacturing”Amanda Glassman and Rachel Silverman, “The International Community Has One Job: Getting COVID-19 Under Control”
Pradeep Gupta on What Makes the Indian Voter Tick
Grand Tamasha
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This month, voters are going to the polls in five Indian states to select the members of their respective state assemblies. These polls are being seen as a test of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity and the ability of the Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to grow or further consolidate its popularity in the eastern and southern parts of the country. Election results will be announced on May 2 but, before then, we will hear from a litany of exit polls that will try to predict the outcomes of these five contests. The exit polls conducted by Axis My India will among the most eagerly anticipated. The firm has garnered a reputation for accurately predicting a spate of recent elections across India. Milan’s guest on the show this week is Pradeep Gupta, the Chairman and Managing Director of Axis My India and author of the brand-new book, How India Votes: And What It Means.Milan and Pradeep discuss why it is so hard to conduct election surveys in India, why Indian voters are delivering more decisive mandates of late, and how Narendra Modi has established a unique connection with Indian voters. Plus, the two discuss the state of the political opposition and how Modi was able to turn demonetization, a questionable economic policy measure, into a big political winner.Episode notes:Pradeep Gupta’s interview with Karan Thapar of The WireMilan Vaishnav, “Understanding the Indian Voter,” Carnegie Endowment for International PeaceAmit Ahuja and Pradeep Chhibber, “Why the Poor Vote in India: ‘If I Don't Vote, I Am Dead to the State’”
Christophe Jaffrelot on India’s First Dictatorship
Grand Tamasha
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Most people who work on India regularly refer to India as the world’s largest democracy and the most enduring democracy in the developing world. However, they often have to footnote such statements with the caveat that India experienced a twenty-one-month period of Emergency Rule in the late 1970s during which democracy was placed in cold storage.A new book, India’s First Dictatorship--The Emergency 1975-1977, by Christophe Jaffrelot and Pratinav Anil breaks new ground in providing us with a comprehensive history and political analysis of this exceptional period. Christophe joins Milan on the show this week to discuss why the Emergency was imposed, how it was imposed, and why—in the end—it was undone. Plus, the two talk about talk about parallels between the political power structure in India circa the late 1970s and today.Episode notes:Rohan Venkataramakrishnan, “Interview: Christophe Jaffrelot on understanding the Emergency and its relevance to Modi’s India,” Scroll.inPratinav Anil, “The Myth of Congress Socialism,” Himal Southasian
Darshana Baruah on the Indian Ocean Imperative
Grand Tamasha
access_time1 year ago
Few regions of the world have gotten more attention in the first few months of the Biden administration than Asia. And, within Asia, top leaders from Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to President Joe Biden himself have singled out the importance of the Indo-Pacific region in particular.  To discuss why this region has gotten such significant air-time and to help us understand what shape greater power competition might take there, Darshana Baruah joins Milan on the podcast this week. Darshana is an associate fellow with the South Asia program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace where she leads Carnegie’s new Indian Ocean Initiative.  Darshana and Milan discuss the strategic importance of the Indian Ocean, India’s evolving views toward the “Quad,” and how the United States and India might cooperate in this critical region. Plus, the two discuss China’s strategic motivations and the existential issue of climate change for the region’s small island nations.  Darshana Baruah, “Showing Up is Half the Battle: U.S. Maritime Forces in the Indian Ocean,” War on the RocksDarshana Baruah, “What is Happening in the Indian Ocean?” Carnegie Endowment for International PeaceDarshana Baruah, “India in the Indo-Pacific: New Delhi’s Theater of Opportunity,” Carnegie Endowment for International PeaceEvan Feigenbaum and James Schwemlein, “How Biden Can Make the Quad Endure,“ Carnegie Endowment for International Peace  
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