Milan Vaishnav

Director and Senior Fellow
South Asia Program
Vaishnav’s primary research focus is the political economy of India, and he examines issues such as corruption and governance, state capacity, distributive politics, and electoral behavior.


PhD, Political Science, Columbia University
MA, MPhil, Political Science, Columbia University
BA, International Relations, University of Pennsylvania 




Latest Analysis

  • Social Realities of Indian Americans: Results From the 2020 Indian American Attitudes Survey
    Paper June 9, 2021
    Social Realities of Indian Americans: Results From the 2020 Indian American Attitudes Survey

    As the profile of the Indian American community has grown, so too has its economic, political, and social influence. But how Indian Americans choose to deploy this influence remains an open question.

  • Op-Ed Perspectives on Politics March 22, 2021
    Rethinking the Study of Electoral Politics in the Developing World: Reflections on the Indian Case

    In the study of electoral politics and political behavior in the developing world, India is often considered to be an exemplar of the centrality of contingency in distributive politics, the role of ethnicity in shaping political behavior, and the organizational weakness of political parties.

  • Op-Ed Hindustan Times March 7, 2021
    For Reforms, Create a Coalition of the Willing

    On contentious matters of economic policy, the Narendra Modi government has demonstrated a penchant for pursuing a shock-and-awe approach.

  • Op-Ed Hindustan Times February 9, 2021
    On India, a Fracture in The Diaspora

    People of Indian origin constitute one of the largest diasporas in the world, residing in at least 200 countries. The stock of Indian migrants has almost tripled over the past three decades, from 6.6 million in 1990 to 17.9 million in 2020.

  • How Do Indian Americans View India? Results From the 2020 Indian American Attitudes Survey
    Paper February 9, 2021
    How Do Indian Americans View India? Results From the 2020 Indian American Attitudes Survey

    Indian Americans are now the second-largest immigrant group in the United States. Their growing political influence and the role the diaspora plays in Indian foreign policy therefore raises important questions—about how Indian Americans view India, the political changes underway there, and the course of U.S.-India relations.

  • Journal of Democracy January 13, 2021
    The Three Faces of the Indian State

    For more than seven decades, India’s Constitution has provided a framework for liberal democracy to flourish in one of the world’s most diverse societies. Legal changes and shifts in bureaucratic practices, however, have undermined the rule of law, equal citizenship, checks and balances, and democratic accountability.

  • Op-Ed Hindustan Times January 9, 2021
    America’s Democratic Decay Under Trump

    The mere turning of pages on a calendar can not erase the noxious forces which have come to infect America’s body politic.

  • 'Mood Toward China Has Changed in Washington'
    Rediff November 25, 2020
    ‘Mood Toward China Has Changed in Washington’

    There is a growing realization that the U.S.-India partnership has proceeded on two tracks and that the security track has done well while the economic track has been a serious drag.

  • Why Indian Americans Are not Becoming Republicans Any Time Soon
    Op-Ed Washington Post October 15, 2020
    Why Indian Americans Are Not Becoming Republicans Any Time Soon

    Even if Indian Americans have not traditionally voted Republican, some media reports have speculated that the Democratic Party’s grip on the community could unravel in 2020 for at least two reasons.

  • Indian-Americans are With Democrats
    Op-Ed Hindustan Times October 15, 2020
    Indian-Americans Are With Democrats

    On issues ranging from immigration to press freedom, the policy preferences of Indian-Americans line up remarkably well with those of the political Left. Indeed, the leading reason Democrats and independents cite for their aversion to the Republican Party is the latter’s intolerance of minorities.

  • How Will Indian Americans Vote? Results From the 2020 Indian American Attitudes Survey
    Paper October 14, 2020
    How Will Indian Americans Vote? Results From the 2020 Indian American Attitudes Survey

    Even though Indian Americans comprise slightly more than 1 percent of the total U.S. population—and less than 1 percent of all registered voters—both major parties are leaving no stone unturned in reaching out to this community. Yet, despite the rising political profile of Indian Americans, their political attitudes are woefully under-studied.

  • The Double-speak of Parties on Foreign Funding
    Op-Ed Hindustan Times July 1, 2020
    The Double-speak of Parties on Foreign Funding

    The latest crisis between China and India has set off an unseemly round of finger-pointing between the Bharatiya Janata Party and its principal national rival, the Congress, with both sides accusing the other of cozying up to the communist regime.

  • Two man are reading News paper in front of a shop at Kolkata, India. June 9, 2020
    ‘There Will Be a Return to CAA/NRC Soon’

    The Indian government’s COVID-19 economic package is smaller than the government is touting, and cloaked in a lot of self-reliance rhetoric that multinationals hear as protectionism. A slow economic recovery may hurt the BJP at the state level, but is unlikely to nationally.

  • ‘Modi Retains an Advantage Nationally’
    REDIFF.COM June 8, 2020
    ‘Modi Retains an Advantage Nationally’

    While Prime Minister Modi’s handling of the COVID-19 outbreak in India is not going without criticism, he retains the political advantage over the opposition. He is likely to push the burden of responsibility to the states.

  • Rally in India
    Business Standard June 7, 2020
    Covid-19 Is Reshaping Political Campaigns in India

    Covid-19 measures prevent large gatherings during the upcoming state elections, pushing more campaigns online. The BJP has a more pervasive presence online, but opposition parties like Congress are catching up.

  • In India’s COVID-19 Response, Minimize Errors of Exclusion
    Op-Ed Center for the Advanced Study of India May 25, 2020
    In India’s COVID-19 Response, Minimize Errors of Exclusion

    India’s unprecedented lockdown exposed deep issues in the government’s ability to care for its most precariously situated citizens. Yet, according to survey data, even among the most deprived people surveyed, the government has mechanisms to transfer essential goods and services.

  • The Consequences of the 2019 Indian General Election for Politics and Policy in India
    India Review May 19, 2020
    The Consequences of the 2019 Indian General Election for Politics and Policy in India

    How a second Narendra Modi-led BJP government affects the party system, minority rights, the economy, and federalism in India.

  • It is time to resume political activity
    Op-Ed Hindustan Times April 28, 2020
    It Is Time to Resume Political Activity

    As the Indian government prepares to gradually dial down the economic freeze on May 3, politics, too, must emerge from its hibernation.

  • Modi Prioritised Hindu Majoritarianism Over Economy February 7, 2020
    Modi Prioritised Hindu Majoritarianism Over Economy

    Creating a Hindu-centric polity may appear to provide some benefits in the short run, but these benefits are far outweighed by the costs.

  • PM Has No Clear Roadmap for $5 Trillion Economy February 6, 2020
    PM Has No Clear Roadmap for $5 Trillion Economy

    The Modi government inherited many macro-economic problems that it has not expended much political capital on finding solutions for.

  • India’s Government is Prioritizing Nationalism Over Economic Renewal
    Op-Ed Washington Post January 30, 2020
    India’s Government Is Prioritizing Nationalism Over Economic Renewal

    Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has long propagated two core ambitions: building a culturally Hindu-centric nation and aggressively advancing India’s economic development.

  • From Nation-State to State-Nation
    Op-Ed Hindustan Times December 18, 2019
    From Nation-State to State-Nation

    India must think hard before uprooting the framework that makes it the envy of the world

  • Have electoral bonds made a bad system worse?
    Hindu December 6, 2019
    Have Electoral Bonds Made a Bad System Worse?

    By their design, electoral bonds legitimize opacity in how elections are funded. There is concern that electoral bonds could become vehicles for money laundering for shell companies, or for prohibited foreign donations.

  • Electoral Bonds: The Safeguards of Indian Democracy are Crumbling
    Op-Ed HuffPost India November 25, 2019
    Electoral Bonds: The Safeguards of Indian Democracy Are Crumbling

    India’s electoral bonds have only legitimized opacity. The government has promised reform, while doubling down on nefarious old habits, and this new instrument has intensified the crisis confronting India’s much-vaunted apex institutions.

  • The Strange Triumph of Narendra Modi
    Op-Ed Foreign Affairs November 4, 2019
    The Strange Triumph of Narendra Modi: Can India’s Prime Minister Succeed Even as the Economy Plummets?

    In 2014, Modi came to power on the promise of an improved economy. As of 2019, India’s economic growth is slowing but Modi’s popularity appears to be intact. If the BJP cannot correct the course of the economy, it will eventually impact the BJP at the polls.

  • Modi buttered Trump up big time September 25, 2019
    Modi Buttered Trump Up Big Time

    Critics assailed Modi’s speech for its personalism, but in the Trump era this is par for the course.

  • What the 2024 Battle May Look Like
    Op-Ed Hindustan Times September 18, 2019
    What the 2024 Battle May Look Like

    The BJP is preparing for a third term. The Congress is still reeling from its loss of 2014.

  • The Dawn of India’s Fourth Party System
    Paper September 5, 2019
    The Dawn of India’s Fourth Party System

    With the BJP’s return to power following May 2019 general election, India appears to have ushered in a new dominant party system—one premised on a unique set of political principles, showing a clear break with what came before.

  • India’s New Fourth Party System
    Op-Ed India Seminar August 19, 2019
    India’s New Fourth Party System

    In the wake of the BJP’s second consecutive single party majority in 2019, which comes on the back of significant political changes at the level of India’s states, the available evidence points in one direction

  • Digital India? An Email Experiment with Indian Legislators
    Op-Ed India Review July 8, 2019
    Digital India? An Email Experiment with Indian Legislators

    Burgeoning literature uses digital tools such as email to experimentally evaluate the responsiveness of political elites to requests for constituency service.

  • Transforming State Capacity in India
    Article July 2, 2019
    Transforming State Capacity in India

    Indian state institutions haven’t kept up with the country’s political and economic transformations. Now, India’s new government has three clear pathways to deliver much-needed reforms.

  • If It’s ‘The Economy, Stupid,’ Why Did Modi Win?
    Op-Ed Washington Post May 25, 2019
    If It’s ‘The Economy, Stupid,’ Why Did Modi Win?

    The question of leadership may have successfully diverted attention away from the state of the economy, but Modi’s honeymoon will be short-lived if he does not place it at the top of his agenda.

  • Modi Owns the Win and the Aftermath
    Op-Ed Hindustan Times May 23, 2019
    Modi Owns the Win and the Aftermath

    This election confirms what has been increasingly evident over the past five years: that the BJP, under Modi’s tutelage, has constructed a political hegemony that is impressively resilient.

  • Coalition Math Could Matter Most in India’s 2019 Election
    Article May 15, 2019
    Coalition Math Could Matter Most in India’s 2019 Election

    In Indian politics, there are neither permanent friends nor permanent enemies. Both the BJP and Congress Party are doing the election math that would lead to a winning coalition.

  • The Battle for India’s Soul
    Op-Ed Foreign Affairs May 6, 2019
    The Battle for India’s Soul

    At the very moment when secularism is on the ropes in India, its defenders appear to have abandoned it.

  • The BJP in Power: Indian Democracy and Religious Nationalism
    April 4, 2019
    The BJP in Power: Indian Democracy and Religious Nationalism

    The upsurge in Hindu nationalism ushered in by Modi’s government is reshaping Indian society, secularism, economics, and diplomacy.

  • Indian Voters Are Looking For An Excuse To Back Modi. They May Have Found One.
    Op-Ed Washington Post April 1, 2019
    Indian Voters Are Looking For An Excuse To Back Modi. They May Have Found One.

    The ordinary voter still views Modi as a compelling leader who is personally incorruptible. Modi’s pitch this election season is simple: He needs more than a single, five-year term to undo 65 years of corruption and administrative rot.

  • India’s Emerging Crisis of Representation
    Article March 14, 2019
    India’s Emerging Crisis of Representation

    If federalism is the glue that has kept the world’s largest democracy together, there are growing signs that this adhesive is becoming unstuck.

  • ‘Nationalism, not Hindutva will be the big theme for 2019’
    Op-Ed Rediff News February 11, 2019
    ‘Nationalism, not Hindutva Will Be the Big Theme for 2019’

    The BJP government is getting nervous about its reelection chances, but the race remains the BJP’s to lose.

  • Show Me the Money, India
    Op-Ed Foreign Policy February 10, 2019
    Show Me the Money, India

    The Congress Party’s newest campaigner may not actually contest elections, but she will likely narrow a funding gap in a country where winning votes costs serious money.

  • As Uttar Pradesh Goes, So Goes India
    Article February 5, 2019
    As Uttar Pradesh Goes, So Goes India

    The BJP will have a hard time replicating its 2014 performance in Uttar Pradesh this year. But as India's biggest electoral prize, the state is make-or-break.

  • Political Finance in India: Déjà Vu All Over Again
    Seminar January 31, 2019
    Political Finance in India: Déjà Vu All Over Again

    Recent political finance ‘reforms’ in India will actually reduce transparency and openness in political funding.

  • India’s Opposition Wants a Universal Basic Income. Does the Idea Stand a Chance?
    Op-Ed Washington Post January 30, 2019
    India’s Opposition Wants a Universal Basic Income. Does the Idea Stand a Chance?

    Any large-scale income support program would require state capacity and fiscal resources. Unfortunately, both are in short supply in India.

  • The BJP’s East Coast Challenge
    Article January 15, 2019
    The BJP’s East Coast Challenge

    India’s eastern seaboard accounts for one-quarter of the country’s population, and it represents the ruling party’s best chance to pick up new seats in the upcoming general election.

  • The women who fought to ban alcohol
    Op-Ed BBC January 4, 2019
    The Women Who Fought to Ban Alcohol

    Women in India are voting in record numbers, with profound implications for campaigning and policymaking in the country.

  • India's Congress Party Rises from the Dead
    Op-Ed Foreign Policy December 14, 2018
    India’s Congress Party Rises From the Dead

    Congress victories in three pivotal state elections provided much needed life to the moribund party.

  • Will Women Decide India’s 2019 Elections?
    Article November 12, 2018
    Will Women Decide India’s 2019 Elections?

    Seven decades after India gained independence, women are still woefully underrepresented as political candidates in state and national elections. Yet despite their gross underrepresentation as politicians in the upper echelons of India’s electoral system, women have made great strides as voters.

  • Indian Women Are Voting More Than Ever. Will They Change Indian Society?
    Q&A November 8, 2018
    Indian Women Are Voting More Than Ever. Will They Change Indian Society?

    In India’s patriarchal society, many more women are voting. Will their newfound clout reshape the country’s politics?

  • Asia
    Q&A October 16, 2018
    What to Watch at the 2018 Asia-Europe Meeting

    Asia-Europe meetings have been held for over a decade, but they are becoming increasingly relevant. Partners from both continents want to work together more closely, so they can combat challenges to globalization and multilateralism.

  • What Is the Secret to the Success of India’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)?
    Q&A October 11, 2018
    What Is the Secret to the Success of India’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)?

    One political party dominates the world’s largest democracy. Why has India’s BJP become so powerful?

  • Congress Should Be Wary of Slipping to the Third Spot
    Op-Ed Print October 11, 2018
    Congress Should Be Wary of Slipping to the Third Spot

    The Congress must stem its electoral bleeding, and also rejuvenate its atrophied party organization.

  • Is the BJP India’s New Hegemon?
    Article October 8, 2018
    Is the BJP India’s New Hegemon?

    The BJP’s emerging hegemony should not be conflated with electoral invincibility. As recent elections have demonstrated in states such as Bihar, Delhi, and Karnataka, the party is fallible.

  • House Must Act, but the Courts Cannot Absolve Themselves
    Op-Ed Hindustan Times September 25, 2018
    House Must Act, but the Courts Cannot Absolve Themselves

    India’s Supreme Court correctly ruled that only Parliament can disqualify candidates facing criminal charges. But both Parliament and the Court have a responsibility to address the criminalization of Indian politics.

  • 'Demonetisation Gives Modi A Powerful Narrative for 2019'
    Op-Ed Rediff News September 6, 2018
    ‘Demonetization Gives Modi A Powerful Narrative for 2019’

    Why Prime Minister Modi’s demonetization gamble is unlikely to hurt his popularity ahead of the 2019 elections.

  • Incumbency in India: More Curse Than Blessing?
    Article August 13, 2018
    Incumbency in India: More Curse Than Blessing?

    The BJP is the front-runner in India’s 2019 elections, but its political standing suggests that dominance could be a liability rather than an asset.

  • The Path to Reforms: Ensure Enforcement, Bring Clarity
    Op-Ed Hindustan Times July 27, 2018
    The Path to Reforms: Ensure Enforcement, Bring Clarity

    Electoral finance reforms could relax limits on expenditures, but should also feature full transparency with adequate verification and enforcement mechanisms.

  • Most Advantageous Thing BJP Could Do Is Real Political Finance Reform...
    Times of India July 23, 2018
    ‘Most Advantageous Thing BJP Could Do Is Real Political Finance Reform... It Would Still Out-Fundraise Opponents’

    While genuine political finance reform would be politically popular for the BJP, recent moves have done little to enhance transparency or dampen flow of black money.

  • Power to the Rich: India Needs to Talk About Money in Politics
    Op-Ed Hindustan Times July 23, 2018
    Power to the Rich: India Needs to Talk About Money in Politics

    India is no stranger to the dilemma of money in politics, but this nexus has not been the subject of sustained scholarly attention.

  • BetaGov and How It’s Revolutionising Research with Angela Hawken
    IDFC Institute July 15, 2018
    BetaGov and How It’s Revolutionising Research

    Data generated testing using innovative methodology is changing the approach to policy research in the public sector.

  • Elections Without Money Impractical: Authors of Costs of Democracy
    Business Standard June 24, 2018
    Elections Without Money Impractical: Authors of Costs of Democracy

    Money does not guarantee electoral victory in India; what it does is guarantee you a seat at the table.

  • The Strategic and Moral Imperatives of Local Engagement: Reflections on India
    PS: Political Science and Politics June 15, 2018
    The Strategic and Moral Imperatives of Local Engagement: Reflections on India

    Engaging with the communities they study offers scholars meaningful critiques for their work and allows those communities to shape and benefit from the research agenda.

  • 2019 Election Won’t Be a Cakewalk for BJP
    Op-Ed rediff News May 29, 2018
    2019 Election Won’t Be a Cakewalk for BJP

    After four years, Modi and the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) remain the favorite in most of the large states of India, contributing to great opposition coordination for the 2019 election. But if Modi loses popularity, the BJP could be in trouble.

  • India’s Democracy Is More Delicate Than It Seems
    Op-Ed Foreign Policy May 21, 2018
    India’s Democracy Is More Delicate Than It Seems

    Indian democracy is arguably the biggest loser of the recent drama-filled elections in Karnataka, which are likely to erode trust in the system and cause lasting damage to norms and institutions.

  • Karnataka Election Results Confirm a Trend in Another Harsh Blow to Congress
    Op-Ed Hindustan Times May 15, 2018
    Karnataka Election Results Confirm a Trend in Another Harsh Blow to Congress

    The precarious position in which the Congress Party now finds itself belies the tremendous effort that it invested in the recent campaign in Karnataka.

  • Is Higher Turnout Bad for Incumbents?
    Op-Ed Hindustan Times May 7, 2018
    Is Higher Turnout Bad for Incumbents?

    Voter turnout in India is not necessarily pro- or anti-incumbent; rather, the relationship between these two variables is likely shaped by the specific context at hand.

  • From Cakewalk to Contest: India’s 2019 General Election
    Article April 16, 2018
    From Cakewalk to Contest: India’s 2019 General Election

    Although the intricacies of the upcoming race—such as the selection of candidates and the rhetoric of campaigns—remain unknown one year out, underlying structural conditions suggest far rockier terrain may lie ahead.

  • Does Higher Turnout Hurt Incumbents? An Analysis of State Elections in India
    Studies in Indian Politics April 4, 2018
    Does Higher Turnout Hurt Incumbents? An Analysis of State Elections in India

    The conventional wisdom linking increased voter turnout to anti-incumbency in India does not appear to be supported by state-level election data.

  • An Indian Nightmare: Is New Delhi Ready for the Twenty-First Century?
    Op-Ed Foreign Affairs March 1, 2018
    An Indian Nightmare: Is New Delhi Ready for the Twenty-First Century?

    In stark contrast to the boosterism surrounding a rising India, the outlines of a much darker alternative narrative are beginning to appear—one where the combined forces of urbanization and demography lead not to a rich dividend but to a social disaster.

  • India's Elite Institutions Are Facing a Credibility Crisis
    Op-Ed Livemint February 20, 2018
    India’s Elite Institutions Are Facing a Credibility Crisis

    The recent tribulations of India’s election commission, reserve bank, and supreme court suggest that its apex institutions may not be as healthy as has traditionally been assumed.

  • Don't Believe the BJP and Congress Claims That They're Cleaning Up Poll Funding
    Op-Ed Print February 6, 2018
    Don’t Believe the BJP and Congress Claims That They’re Cleaning Up Poll Funding

    In an era when the Congress and the BJP can agree on next to nothing, they will gladly join hands to save their own skin—in this case, by changing a law that no longer exists.

  • Electoral Bonds Prize Anonymity, You Won't Know Who's Bought Them
    Op-Ed Indian Express January 8, 2018
    Electoral Bonds Prize Anonymity, You Won’t Know Who’s Bought Them

    Billed as a victory for transparency in political funding, electoral bonds are guaranteed to garner positive headlines. Upon closer inspection, however, the bonds appear to legitimize opacity in political finance rather than combat it.

  • Modi's Going To Have a Much Tougher 2018 Than Anyone's Expecting
    Op-Ed Print December 19, 2017
    Modi’s Going To Have a Much Tougher 2018 Than Anyone’s Expecting

    The tight competition in Gujarat and the behavior of the BJP leadership during the campaign suggest that the BJP’s dominance may be more vulnerable than previously realized.

  • Op-Ed Print November 24, 2017
    Three Economists Went Around India Asking: Do You Call Yourself Middle Class?

    The emergence of the Indian middle class has received much attention, but there’s no one authoritative way of defining what it means to be middle class.

  • The Importance of Being Middle Class in India
    Academic Foundation November 3, 2017
    The Importance of Being Middle Class in India

    In the midst of debates on the definition of the middle class in India, self-identification could offer a simple, yet promising, solution.

  • Doing Business in India: Myths and Realities
    Op-Ed Livemint October 25, 2017
    Doing Business in India: Myths and Realities

    When the Doing Business report comes out this month, the nuances inherent in the data will likely be neglected by commentators looking to score points for one side or the other. Calmer heads should keep certain points in mind.

  • Rahul Gandhi’s US Tour Can’t Change Fact that Congress Has No Clarity on Its Strategy
    Op-Ed Print September 22, 2017
    Rahul Gandhi’s U.S. Tour Can’t Change Fact That Congress Has No Clarity on Its Strategy

    Despite efforts to criticize the BJP’s handling of identity politics and the economy, the Congress party has not yet addressed its need for strong leadership and a clear vision for the future.

  • For BJP and Modi Govt, Dominance and Doubt in an Uncomfortable Embrace
    Op-Ed Indian Express September 10, 2017
    For BJP and Modi Government, Dominance and Doubt in an Uncomfortable Embrace

    Unable to campaign on the economic growth it had expected, the BJP is crafting an alternative narrative for 2019 emphasizing economic stability, efforts to curb black money, and the absence of high-level corruption.

  • Op-Ed Foreign Affairs August 16, 2017
    India at 70

    Seventy years ago, independent India was born. Having shaken off the yoke of the British Empire, the country embarked on what was—and remains—the world’s most radical democratic experiment.

  • Modi: Pro Business, Not Pro Markets
    Op-Ed Cipher Brief August 15, 2017
    Modi: Pro Business, Not Pro Markets

    Modi has generally been good for business but not always good for a level playing field. His government is pro-business, but it also has a strongly nationalist outlook, and those two things are mutually reinforcing.

  • Op-Ed Foreign Affairs August 3, 2017
    India’s Opposition Heads for the Hills

    The recent upheaval in Bihar is only the latest signal that the BJP is the new center of political gravity in a country long controlled by the storied Nehru-Gandhi dynasty of the Congress Party.

  • Asian Survey August 2, 2017
    Ethnic Identifiability in India: Evidence from a Voter Survey

    While Indian voters often misidentify the ethnic identity of their candidate, the degree of error is small but systematic.

  • Op-Ed Quartz June 26, 2017
    Trade, Terrorism, and H-1B: Modi and Trump’s First Meeting Has a Big Menu

    When Trump and Modi meet for the first time, they will likely focus on defense deals. They may also discuss areas of mutual interest, including trade, investment, and counterterrorism.

  • The Wharton School June 8, 2017
    Does Democracy Encourage Criminal Politicians?

    Voters in India select candidates with criminal records to fill a gap left by weak institutions. Criminal politicians promise to provide services to their caste or social group, no matter the cost.

  • Vaishnav, Kapur and Mehta on Rethinking Indian Public Institutions
    Podcast May 19, 2017
    Vaishnav, Kapur and Mehta on Rethinking Indian Public Institutions

    The biggest challenge for the Indian state is not its size, but its inefficiency. Carnegie Senior Fellow Milan Vaishnav and co-authors Devesh Kapur and Pratap Bhanu Mehta discuss their new book, Rethinking Public Institutions in India, and explore the massive challenges India faces and the state’s ability to adapt. (Runtime - 29:09)

  • Crooks Win Votes
    Atlantic May 18, 2017
    Crooks Win Votes

    In India, candidates with a criminal record have a higher rate than clean candidates. Parties nominate criminals at least partially because they win.

  • Livemint May 15, 2017
    Weak Public Institutions Behind India’s Low State Capacity

    As India’s challenges mount, the need for institutional reform is vital if the country is to build and sustain an Indian state for the 21st century.

  • Seminar May 8, 2017
    India’s Democratic Marketplace for Criminality

    In India, it is useful to view the relative success of criminal politicians as a byproduct of democratic practice, rather than its authoritarian antithesis.

  • Finance Bill Makes Funding For Political Parties More Opaque Than Ever
    Op-Ed Hindustan Times March 29, 2017
    Finance Bill Makes Funding For Political Parties More Opaque Than Ever

    There is a dramatic mismatch between what ails political finance in India and the government’s “reform” measures. The budget presentation and its new amendments have made political funding less transparent.

  • Adityanath, No Stranger To Criminal Cases, Promises Safer UP
    Op-Ed NDTV March 23, 2017
    Adityanath, No Stranger To Criminal Cases, Promises Safer UP

    While Indians should be heartened by any decline in the level of political criminality, there are good reasons to treat this data with caution, especially in the case of Uttar Pradesh.

  • Op-Ed Foreign Affairs March 15, 2017
    Modi’s Victory and the BJP’s Future

    In an outcome that shocked analysts, an alliance led by India’s BJP Prime Minister Narendra Modi won 325 out of the 403 seats on offer in the state assembly election in Uttar Pradesh.

  • How Criminals Were Inducted Into Indian Politics During Emergency
    Op-Ed Hindustan Times February 27, 2017
    How Criminals Were Inducted Into Indian Politics During Emergency

    Candidates charged with engaging in illegal activity first sought elected office because they feared the reach of the state, and politics offered a promising mechanism for evading prosecution.

  • Op-Ed Foreign Policy February 27, 2017
    “If Money Is Not Distributed, You Are Finished”

    In India, candidates distribute money to buy into the system, not to quid pro quo purchase votes.

  • Op-Ed Indian Express February 16, 2017
    Let Justice Flow

    By investing in innovative “DigiProcedures,” the Indian court system can provide more rapid resolutions to disputes.

  • Op-Ed Yale Books Unbound February 16, 2017
    Criminal Politicians on the World Stage

    While there is still a lot of uncertainty in terms of how the elections in Uttar Pradesh will unfold, it is clear that criminal politicians will remain on the prowl.

  • Op-Ed NPR February 11, 2017
    A Look at Why ‘Crime Pays’ in Indian Politics

    Where the government cannot carry out its sovereign responsibilities effectively and society is deeply divided along ethnic lines, many voters view strongmen as saviors.

  • Wire February 7, 2017
    Voters Make “Strategic Choices” in Favor of Money and Muscle

    Like all politicians in India, candidates with criminal reputations also live and die at the ballot box. They are a byproduct of democratic practice.

  • The Case of Arun Gawli Shows how Lawbreakers Become Lawmakers in India
    Op-Ed February 6, 2017
    The Case of Arun Gawli Shows How Lawbreakers Become Lawmakers in India

    Arun Gawli’s political rags-to-riches story reads more like a screenplay for a summer Bollywood blockbuster than the bio-sheet of a rising politician.

  • Op-Ed NDTV February 5, 2017
    Arvind Kejriwal’s Rise and Early Missteps in National Politics

    Despite success in getting the issue of corruption on the national agenda in India, Arvind Kejriwal failed to get a bill that could actually enforce anti-corruption measures through government.

  • Milan Vaishnav On Books And Writing
    Huffington Post February 5, 2017
    On Books And Writing

    There is a trade-off between going deep and going broad, but authors who are researchers need to push themselves to look for questions that stretch the boundaries of what is known.

  • Why India's Electorate Chooses To Vote For Politicians With Criminal Records
    Op-Ed Huffington Post February 3, 2017
    Why India’s Electorate Chooses to Vote for Politicians With Criminal Records

    In India’s boisterous democracy, the debate over the role of crime in politics is raging ahead—although understanding of the underlying drivers is still inchoate.

  • Milan Vaishnav on Corruption in Indian Politics
    Podcast February 2, 2017
    Milan Vaishnav on Corruption in Indian Politics

    Carnegie Senior Fellow Milan Vaishnav discusses his groundbreaking new book, When Crime Pays: Money and Muscle in Indian Politics, which takes readers deep into the marketplace for criminal politicians. Vaishnav discusses his findings on the inner-workings of democracy’s underbelly, and how his work might illuminate the current U.S. political climate. (Runtime - 25:50)

  • Op-Ed Quartz February 1, 2017
    Crafty Indian Politicians Can Game the New Political Funding Rules Even in Their Sleep

    While the reforms to political finance announced as part of the India’s 2017 Budget are a step in the right direction, they will do little to change the reality of non-transparent political funding.

  • Business Standard January 30, 2017
    Governance Failure Fuels Muscle in Politics

    Money and muscle coexist throughout India. This nexus thrives in a post-industrial society because of a failure in governance.

  • Anant Singh: The Ganglord of Mokama
    Op-Ed Livemint January 27, 2017
    Anant Singh: The Ganglord of Mokama

    Despite public knowledge of the crimes he has committed, Anant Singh is a popular politician in India.

  • Why Money and Muscle Still Rule in Indian Politics: An Interview with Milan Vaishnav
    Reuters January 16, 2017
    Why Money and Muscle Still Rule in Indian Politics

    Failures in governance in India have given criminal politicians currency with the masses. Political finance reform and improvements in governance are needed to stop the influence of money and muscle.

  • Times of India January 15, 2017
    People Choose Criminal Politicians as They’re Seen to Get Things Done

    In India, criminal politicians are fielded because their wealth appeals to political parties, and elected because voters see criminality as as sign of their credibility to “get things done.”

  • Op-Ed Indian Express January 5, 2017
    Purify the Parties

    Prime Minister Modi has pitched demonetization as a fight against corruption in India. But to truly free politics from black money, the government must take concrete steps to reform political finance.

  • Op-Ed Diplomat January 4, 2017
    A Familiar Story: Donald Trump and India’s Criminal Politicians

    In India, distrust of government and social cleavages encourage voters to support those who bend the rules to defend their communities. Similar conditions in the United States contributed to Trump’s election.

  • Democratic Audit UK December 13, 2016
    Why Do Voters Back Corrupt and Dishonest Politicians?

    Rather than being uninformed, voters in India strategically elect politicians who are tied to criminal activity.

  • Op-Ed Financial Times November 28, 2016
    Why India’s Demonetization Alone Won’t End Dirty Money in Politics

    Demonetization alone is not enough to end dirty money in Indian politics. Modi must also close legal loopholes, tie tax breaks to political parties with transparency, and directly attack the underlying drivers of the black economy.

  • Quartz November 9, 2016
    Modi’s Crackdown on Black Money Is Bad News for Political Parties, Including the BJP

    Some 75 percent of the money going to political parties is from undocumented sources. Modi’s crackdown on black money will therefore be hugely disruptive for the upcoming elections in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh.

  • Op-Ed NDTV November 9, 2016
    President Trump’s Question Marks Extend to India

    Much of the India-U.S. relationship functions through their respective bureaucracies. But reassuring America’s friends abroad will be an uphill climb for Trump.

  • Op-Ed Livemint November 7, 2016
    BJP’s ‘Five-Layer Cake’ Strategy in Uttar Pradesh

    For the election in Uttar Pradesh, the Bharatiya Janata Party is relying on nationalism, Hindu majoritarianism, Modi’s popularity, failures within other parties, and strong headline economic numbers.

  • Why Voters Sometimes Prefer Criminals as Candidates
    Governance: An International Journal of Policy, Administration, and Institutions October 1, 2016
    Why Voters Sometimes Prefer Criminals as Candidates

    Indian voters do not elect criminals out of ignorance. Instead, candidates with serious criminal records are sometimes preferred because their criminality signals their credibility.

  • Op-Ed Hindustan Times September 22, 2016
    Politician-Bureaucrat Ties Far More Complicated Than Perceived

    A new body of work shows the relationship between bureaucrats and politicians in India is riddled with perverse incentives and unintended consequences. But, it also points to possible actions for reform.

  • IAS Reforms: Cleaning Rust from the Frame
    Op-Ed Live Mint September 12, 2016
    IAS Reforms: Cleaning Rust From the Frame

    The Indian Administrative Service (IAS) is the essential bureaucratic organ of the Indian state, but it is badly out of sync with today’s demands.

  • The Indian Administrative Service Meets Big Data
    Paper September 1, 2016
    The Indian Administrative Service Meets Big Data

    The Indian government should reshape recruitment and promotion processes for the Indian Administrative Service, improve performance-based assessment of individual officers, and adopt safeguards that promote accountability while protecting bureaucrats from political meddling.

  • Seminar India August 31, 2016
    Exploiting Survey Data

    Survey opinion research is an incredibly valuable tool, but there are challenges to measuring beliefs, drawing inferences, and using limited open data.

  • Op-Ed Foreign Affairs August 15, 2016
    India’s Taxing Tax System

    India passed a historic tax bill which will simplify inter-state commerce. Ratification is a daunting next step.

  • Oxford University Press May 16, 2016
    Checkbook Elections?: India

    Despite the vibrancy of its democracy, India has struggled mightily to regulate political finance in ways that would both contain the costs of elections and curb impropriety in their funding.

  • Op-Ed Foreign Affairs March 8, 2016
    Modinomics at Two

    Despite winning the first single-party majority in India in three decades, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not effectively used the bully pulpit to champion reformist economic policies.

  • Op-Ed Indian Express December 30, 2015
    PM’s Known Unknowns

    For a government whose claim to fame was governance delivered straight from the top, the view from the summit is unexpectedly cloudy.

  • Bertelsmann Foundation November 24, 2015
    Modi’s Reform Agenda: Change You Can Believe In?

    Given the array of external and internal constraints on the government, further enhanced by recent election defeats, the Modi government is unlikely to deviate from its gradualist path toward reform.

  • Op-Ed Foreign Affairs November 11, 2015
    How the BJP Lost Bihar

    How did the BJP lose Bihar? The easiest explanation is this: the Grand Alliance pulled a BJP on the BJP.

  • Op-Ed BBC November 9, 2015
    How Narendra Modi’s Bihar Defeat Will Hit Reforms Agenda

    In the short run, the Bihar loss damages Modi’s prestige, complicates politics, and makes parliament more of an obstacle. Its broader impact, however, should not be overstated over the longer term.

  • Article September 30, 2015
    Battle for Bihar

    The 2015 election in the Indian state of Bihar is a major test for the Modi government. The results will have ramifications far beyond Bihar’s borders.

  • India Review September 21, 2015
    Does Good Economics Make Good Politics? Evidence from Indian States

    The Indian voter weights economic performance more heavily now than in the past.

  • Tackling Corruption in India
    Op-Ed Live Mint September 16, 2015
    Tackling Corruption in India

    India stands to gain immensely from combining effective, inexpensive and logistically simple solutions with the more arduous task of strengthening important institutions and State capabilities.

  • India Policy Forum September 1, 2015
    Corruption in India: Bridging Research Evidence and Policy Options

    The most important thing for combating corruption is not the law on paper but the implementation of the law; the binding constraint, as always, is the government’s desire and ability to punish corrupt officials and politicians.

  • Rahul Gandhi
    Op-Ed Rediff July 20, 2015
    Where Are the Jobs Going to Come From?

    Everyone in government knows that the Indian bureaucracy circa 2015 is not equipped to handle the challenges of India's democracy, economy, and society circa 2015—yet it continues to tinker at the margins.

  • Indian Voters
    Global Integrity, Sunlight Foundation, and The Electoral Integrity Project July 16, 2015
    Checkbook Elections: Political Finance in Comparative Perspective

    In India, the state’s strong involvement in the economy, together with costly elections, has incentivized shadowy links between business, the criminal underworld, and politicians, exacerbating corrupt practices.

  • Op-Ed Rediff July 15, 2015
    Modi Is Taking a Big Risk

    Given the enormity of the domestic challenges India faces and the newness of the government, voters seem inclined to give Modi some room to run. But this won’t last forever.

  • Op-Ed Live Mint July 6, 2015
    What Makes the Indian Voter Tick?

    While the motivations of Indian voters might be shifting, the make-up of the candidate pool they choose from is not.

  • Narendra Modi campaign poster
    IDFC June 29, 2015
    New Rules for Indian Politics

    There are three clear lessons that can be drawn from India’s 2014 election.

  • Paper June 23, 2015 Full Text
    Understanding the Indian Voter

    The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) historic victory in India’s 2014 general election prompted declarations of a watershed in the behavior of the Indian voter. Upon closer inspection, the reality is more nuanced.

  • May 26, 2015
    Modi’s First Year

    Is India getting back on track?

  • Op-Ed Live Mint May 24, 2015
    Narendra Modi’s One Year Ledger

    Modi’s government still has time to live up to the moment and its unique mandate, but this requires resolving five central tensions.

  • Indian Parliament
    Op-Ed Policy Wonks May 19, 2015
    One Year into Modi Sarkar: New Rules for Indian Politics?

    A year after the momentous general election of 2014, some significant changes in Indian political landscape can be seen emerging.

  • Rahul Gandhi
    Op-Ed Indian Express April 7, 2015
    Why a 'Congress-mukt Bharat' Would Be Bad for BJP

    At least in the short term, an India shorn of the Congress party may actually not be in the BJP’s interests. What the BJP should wish for instead is a weakened but not fatally wounded Congress.

  • Op-Ed Deutsche Welle February 28, 2015
    India Budget ‘a Step in the Right Direction,’ but ‘No Quantum Leap’

    The new budget is clearly pro-growth in its orientation and is a marked improvement from the government’s first provisional budget issued last July.

  • Indian Marketplace
    Op-Ed Hindu February 27, 2015
    Unsafe After Sunset

    Perceptions of public safety in India are not driven by urbanisation per se; rather, these are likely driven by the infrastructure and amenities associated with the largest cities in India.

  • Arvind Kejriwal and other AAP leaders
    Op-Ed Foreign Affairs February 11, 2015
    A Rumble in Delhi

    The AAP’s victory in the Delhi elections over the BJP and Congress is nothing short of a stunning reversal of fortune—the impact of which will be felt far beyond the narrow confines of the Indian capital.

  • Op-Ed Indian Express February 4, 2015
    The Resilience of Briefcase Politics

    Unless a farsighted Central government can champion campaign finance reforms, the after-effects of the ill-fated 1969 ban on company donations are likely to be felt long after its 45th anniversary.

  • Indian Parliament
    Op-Ed Live Mint January 26, 2015
    How Representative Are India's MPs?

    Indian legislators have very little in common with the average citizen.

  • Op-Ed Live Mint January 22, 2015
    No Big Ideas in India-U.S. Relations—and That’s OK

    U.S.-India relations have not meandered because of a lack of ideas; they’ve ebbed and flowed thanks to over-hyped pledges followed by half-baked implementation.

  • Indian Market
    Op-Ed Hindu December 9, 2014
    Being Middle Class in India

    Are differences within India’s middle class, in income, education, and cultural and social capital, so wide as to render moot any ideological or behavioral coherence to this group?

  • Indian Bricklayers
    Op-Ed Live Mint October 13, 2014
    Pro-Business or Pro-Consumer?

    Modi has repeatedly stated that government should not be in the business of business, but when policy issues demand difficult trade-offs, will the Indian government side with business or consumers?

  • Indian Marketplace
    Op-Ed Georgetown Journal of International Affairs October 9, 2014
    Modi in the USA

    The prime minister’s primary objective in the United States was to make the pitch that India is once again a hospitable environment for investment.

  • Op-Ed Economic Times September 27, 2014
    For the Two Nations, Biggest Potential is in Defense

    Washington is in a mood to strike up new deals with India and is eager to seize the window of opportunity with a new government.

  • Indian PM Narendra Modi
    Op-Ed Deutsche Welle September 26, 2014
    Modi Seeking to Revive US Investment in India

    Indian Premier Narendra Modi has embarked on a five-day visit to the United States aimed at improving ties and showing an American audience that India is once again “open for business.”

  • Indian PM Narendra Modi
    Op-Ed Live Mint September 22, 2014
    What Kind of Reformer Will Narendra Modi Be?

    The Modi government must consider pivotal reforms, rather than luxuriate in the current economic recovery.

  • Indian PM Narendra Modi
    Op-Ed Deutsche Welle September 2, 2014
    Modi’s Need to Move ‘Beyond Piecemeal Initiatives’

    While Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has improved the quality of governance in his first hundred days in office, he has yet to pursue major economic policy reforms.

  • Op-Ed Deutsche Welle July 28, 2014
    Kerry Seeking To ‘Reset U.S. Relationship With India’

    The primary purpose of Kerry’s trip to India is symbolic, but that does not make it unimportant. The Obama administration is looking to reset its relationship with India as a whole as well as with Modi the individual.

  • Op-Ed Live Mint July 28, 2014
    The Politics and Plumbing of Reforms

    Reform initiatives that were pursued by previous Indian governments often failed due to inadequate attention to state capacity. This government has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to translate ideas into institutional change.

  • Op-Ed Deutsche Welle July 10, 2014
    Modi’s ‘Pro-Growth’ Budget ‘Lacking on Key Issues’

    There is no doubt that the Modi government’s first budget is pro-growth in its orientation, but it still lacks a detailed blueprint for economic renewal.

  • Op-Ed Business Standard June 14, 2014
    It’s Too Soon To Proclaim Death Of Coalition Politics

    Although the 2014 election repudiated many of the tenets of the post-1989 system, it is too soon to proclaim the death of coalition politics.

  • Article June 10, 2014
    A New Era in Indian Politics?

    If trends witnessed in India’s 2014 election persist, the country may have closed the book on twenty-five years of electoral politics and moved into a new era.

  • Op-Ed Mint May 27, 2014
    Strengthening India’s Rule of Law

    The next government must acknowledge India’s weak performance in enforcing the rule of law and take immediate action to close the widening gulf between principle and practice.

  • Op-Ed BBC News May 17, 2014
    India’s Congress Party: Down but Not Yet Out

    There is nothing guaranteed about the Congress party's revival, but judging by history, even its opponents would be foolish to write it off. Congress may be down but it is not yet out.

  • Op-Ed Times of India May 17, 2014
    Election Results 2014: BJP Landslide Shatters Four Electoral Myths

    The results of India’s sixteenth general election challenge the common understanding of contemporary Indian electoral politics in at least four ways.

  • Op-Ed India Today May 17, 2014
    A Devil Called Policy Paralysis

    One of the previous Indian government’s most glaring legacies was the deep sense of uncertainty that pervades the economy. Remedying this policy paralysis and uncertainty must be the next government’s number one priority.

  • Op-Ed Deutsche Welle May 16, 2014
    India’s Modi Expected To Deliver ‘Quick Turn-Around’

    This election is the first time since 1984 that a single party has succeeded in winning a clear majority and the first time a non-Congress party has been able to achieve this feat on its own.

  • Op-Ed Bloomberg May 12, 2014
    Indians Expect an Economic Superman

    Exit polls suggest that Narendra Modi is poised to become India’s next prime minister. The hope is that Modi can scale his regional economic success story in Gujarat into a national one.

  • Op-Ed New York Times May 9, 2014
    India’s Price of Victory

    The deluge of money in India’s political system is shaping more than just the nature of competition; it’s also having an effect on who gains entry into politics in the first place, as parties rely more on candidates who can pay their own way.

  • Op-Ed Deutsche Welle April 7, 2014
    Odds of Congress Party Maintaining Power are Slim

    India’s ruling Congress Party is expected to take a beating at the polls, as the world’s biggest election gets underway. The opposition BJP is set to do well, despite its polarizing candidate.

  • Op-Ed Financial Times April 3, 2014
    The Rural/Urban Divide Dies Out

    Even if the rural/urban divide did once provide an accurate description of the country, there is good reason to doubt it as India heads to the polls in 2014.

  • Op-Ed Times of India March 23, 2014
    46 Percent of Indians Have No Problems Supporting Dynastic Candidates

    Political parties in India, virtually across the spectrum, have a demonstrated preference for perpetuating political dynasties.

  • Op-Ed Times of India March 16, 2014
    Growth Is No. 1 Poll Issue for Voters, Survey Shows

    For voters across India, economic growth and corruption unambiguously dominate all other concerns, and inflation follows closely behind.

  • Op-Ed Times of India March 9, 2014
    NDA Makes Gains With Urban, OBC Voters

    The hundreds of millions of voters whose collective actions will determine the course of India’s 16th general elections represent an electorate that is changing in many complex ways.

  • Op-Ed BBC February 25, 2014
    India Election: Is There a Surge of Support for Narendra Modi?

    Since early 2013 one question has dominated Indian political discourse: will there be a “wave of support” for Narendra Modi of the main opposition BJP?

  • Op-Ed CNN February 18, 2014
    The Myths of India’s Rising Regional Parties

    As India prepares to head to the polls in the next few months, much of the attention has been focused on the rise of regional parties and their potential impact on the national results.

  • Op-Ed Foreign Affairs February 12, 2014
    Empty Economics

    None of the contenders in India’s upcoming election provide much real reassurance that they can revive India’s long-run economic growth rate.

  • Q&A February 4, 2014
    Will India’s Economy Surge After the General Election?

    It will take more than a new government to fix India’s struggling economy. The country needs broad reforms and institutional change to address fundamental flaws in its economic system.

  • Article January 24, 2014
    Crime but No Punishment in Indian Elections

    In India, politicians with criminal records are supplying what voters and parties demand: candidates who are effective and well-funded.

  • Article December 19, 2013
    Does Good Economics Mean Good Politics in India?

    Indian voters are rewarding politicians for good economic performance—a new and encouraging sign that Indian democracy is maturing.

  • Article December 16, 2013
    The Year of the Voter in South Asia

    2014 will be a year of transition in South Asia. National elections in Afghanistan, India, and Bangladesh will affect both regional stability and international security.

  • Op-Ed Indian Express December 12, 2013
    A New Party, A More Engaged Class

    In a region where democracy has been uneven, the successful completion of another election in India, especially one in which voter turnout achieved record highs, is cause for celebration.

  • Op-Ed Deutsche Welle December 2, 2013
    ‘NOTA Is Not the Same as Right to Reject’

    It remains to be seen whether negative voting will influence the quality of politicians in Indian elections.

  • Op-Ed National Bureau of Asian Research November 21, 2013
    India’s Upcoming Elections: Will the States and the Economy Decide?

    The factors influencing Indian voters have changed markedly since the 2009 general election, with the economy now playing a larger role.

  • Article November 13, 2013
    The Complicated Rise of India’s Regional Parties

    The rise of regional parties has fundamentally transformed electoral politics in India, but those parties may not be the juggernauts they’re made out to be.

  • Op-Ed Business Standard November 6, 2013
    Two Theories About Gold

    Gold has been in the news in India lately because high and rising imports have exacerbated the rupee’s vulnerability over the past few months.

  • Q&A October 24, 2013
    How to Make India’s Economy More Resilient

    There is no doubt the Indian economy is struggling and vulnerable to volatility in global markets. To make India more resilient, officials should remove irrational capital controls.

  • Article October 9, 2013
    The Modi Debate Worth Having in India

    The candidacy of Narendra Modi for prime minister offers India a unique opportunity to strengthen its democracy.

  • Article September 10, 2013
    Five Trends Shaping India’s Voting Landscape

    India’s upcoming parliamentary election is painted as a head-to-head battle between two national-level parties, but political observers should not overlook local factors.

  • Op-Ed Political Science Quarterly August 28, 2013
    Book Review: India Today: Economics, Politics and Society

    It is easy to be awestruck by the sweeping changes that have transformed India’s political economy in recent decades. But these changes, paradoxically, are taking place amidst a great deal of continuity.

  • Op-Ed Indian Express July 15, 2013
    A Trickle of Small Victories

    The Indian Supreme Court’s opinion that convicted criminals cannot serve in parliament is a win for reformers, but not a total victory in the war on criminality in politics.

  • Op-Ed Studies in Indian Politics July 3, 2013
    Book Review: India Since 1980

    In their important new account of a pivotal period in Indian history, Sumit Ganguly and Rahul Mukherji sometimes overemphasize the changes that have taken place, overlooking sources of stagnation in Indian politics.

  • Op-Ed Center for the Advanced Study of India June 17, 2013
    Elections in India: The Errors Voters Make

    The idea that caste dominates politics in India may rest on an unsupported assumption: that Indian voters always know to what caste candidates belong.

  • Op-Ed CNN June 14, 2013
    Is Modi the Answer for India’s Opposition?

    The rise of Narendra Modi gives the BJP an opportunity to reshape its narrative before India’s national elections next year. But the opposition party is still at a disadvantage.

  • Op-Ed Indian Express May 9, 2013
    Party in the Dock

    Criminal behavior is rampant across party lines in India, and it threatens to undermine public faith in democracy if left unchecked.

  • Op-Ed Oxford India Society May 1, 2013
    The Demand for Criminal Politicians

    Measures designed to dissuade politicians in India from criminal behavior must be accompanied by measures designed to reduce demand for such representatives by parties and voters.

  • Op-Ed Foreign Affairs April 11, 2013
    India Needs More Democracy, Not Less

    Effective, long-term solutions to India's governance woes will require a more accurate diagnosis of the problems and remedies that enhance the democratic elements of the Indian system.

  • Center for Global Development March 29, 2013
    Quid Pro Quo: Builders, Politicians, and Election Finance in India

    A new measure of construction activity reveals evidence that builders in India use their assets to help politicians circumvent election finance laws.

  • Op-Ed Indian Express March 14, 2013
    Capitol Hill to Raisina Hill

    A more realistic understanding of domestic politics in both the United States and India could help alleviate the cycles of unrealistic expectations and disappointment in the U.S.-India bilateral relationship.

  • Op-Ed Caravan March 1, 2013
    A More Equal Union

    For India's states to learn from one another, both the states and the center will need to reform institutional barriers to constructive competition.

  • Op-Ed Foreign Affairs January 15, 2013
    Talking Democracy in India

    Narendra Modi's re-election in Gujarat sets the stage for a national campaign in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, but has also sparked a productive conversation about different approaches to development in India.

  • After the Mourning in India
    Article December 31, 2012
    After the Mourning in India

    The Indian government’s response to the recent much-publicized gang rape case will be measured by its ability to deliver justice for millions of Indian women not in the headlines.

  • Q&A December 17, 2012
    Pivotal Elections in Gujarat

    Perhaps no state in India provokes as much political hysteria as Gujarat. Its December 2012 assembly elections will also have significant implications for national politics.

  • Op-Ed Indian Express November 14, 2012
    The Generation Gap of Governance

    India's aging government is starting to show signs of a gerontocracy, as officials get older while the population gets younger.

  • Article November 2, 2012
    Five Truths About India

    It’s easy to misinterpret India. These five trends shed light on the country’s domestic realities, underscoring India’s internal tensions between continuity and change.

  • Op-Ed Business Standard October 29, 2012
    Builders, Politicians, Friends Forever?

    India’s struggles with cronyism and land deals are not new, but they will be hard to fix, since the glue that connects builders and politicians is election finance.

  • Op-Ed Caravan October 1, 2012
    Resizing the State: What if the Indian State is Actually Not Big Enough?

    Examining the realities of India's state capacity suggests that, contrary to the conventional wisdom, building up the Indian state in several critical areas may be an important part of the solution to India's economic woes.

  • Q&A September 17, 2012
    Prospects for India’s Reforms

    Economic reforms put forward in India are merely the first step of a longer process that faces significant political opposition.

  • Pakistani Laborer
    Op-Ed Foreign Affairs August 20, 2012
    Not So Great Expectations

    The United States has much to offer the countries of the Arab Spring but, as the case of Pakistan shows, there are clear limits to U.S. power and abilities.

  • Op-Ed Dawn August 11, 2012
    Making KLB Effective

    In order to make the most of American aid to Pakistan, Washington and Islamabad must work together to identify what kinds of development the United States does best—and what kinds it should leave to other donors.

  • India electricity infrastructure
    Op-Ed CNN August 3, 2012 Русский
    India’s Very Political Power Crisis

    The willingness of India's politicians to trade cheap electricity for votes explains why the governance of India’s power sector, and electricity in particular, is in such dire straits.

  • Article July 30, 2012
    Washington’s Civilian Shortcomings in Pakistan

    If the United States wants to keep the promise it made in 2009 to help build a stable, accountable, and democratic Pakistan, it must significantly alter its current approach.

  • Op-Ed Center for Global Development June 14, 2012
    Three Questions about Honduras’s New Charter City

    Honduras has altered its constitution to open the way to building a new “Special Economic Zone," but this charter city raises some important questions.


Areas of Expertise

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