【Date and Time】Friday, 28 June, 2019  16:00-18:00
【Venue】 Meeting Room (AA447), 4th Floor, Research Building No.2, Yoshida Main Campus, Kyoto University
(Building no.34 of the map on above page)

16:00~16:45 Prof. Ronki Ram (Shaheed Bhagat Singh Chair Professor of Political Science, Panjab University)
“India at Polls -2019: Making Sense of Emerging Electoral Trends in Multicultural Societies”

16:45~17:30 Prof. Pramod Kumar (Director, Institute for Development and Communication (IDC))
“2019 Elections Verdict: Unfolding Challenges for Democracy in India”

17:30~17:40 Comments
Prof. NAKAMIZO Kazuya (Professor of Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies, Kyoto University)

17:40~18:00 General Discussion

This workshop will discuss the verdict of the recently held Indian general elections of 2019. At heart, is the debate over the probable emergence with the decisive victory of the Bhartiya Janata Party of one-party domination in India. Does the verdict of 2019  herald the end of coalition politics in India, the irretrievable erosion of the Congress party and the weakening of caste-based groupings?  Will  the verdict of 2019 mark the arrival of ‘New India’.

”India at Polls -2019: Making Sense of Emerging Electoral Trends in Multicultural Societies”  

Political discourse emanates from articulation of issues, which figured at different levels. The two most obvious and critical levels that immediately come into mind can be a local space of a particular society in question and the dominant world economic paradigm. All political parties across the board can't escape from the penetrating impact of the dominant world economic paradigm and at the same time they have to respond to the issues originating from their respective local settings. It is at this crucial juncture that political parties of all shades come to play an intervening role in articulating social and political discourse meant for the electioneering process of a nation. This in turn depends on the ideology, leadership and organisational machinery of the political parties and their strategic acumen to choose from the given multiple issues rooted in the local and larger global domains and to drum them up for favourable electoral mobilisations in their respective constituencies. What issues a particular political party may chose depends on its close readings of the ambivalent minds of the afflicted electorates who feel deceived by their respective political regimes over decades but at the same time find helpless to lose whatever little democratic space they enjoy in terms of the right to vote. During India at Polls -2019, Indian electorates chose to vote massively in favour of national/identity-based issue as against the state vs market dominated plank. Thus to deconstruct a political discourse one needs to look into all these above mentioned factors that constitute the background of the emergence of electoral issues and their selective adoption by variant political parties in a multi-cultural context like Indian subcontinent.

“2019 Elections Verdict: Unfolding Challenges for Democracy in India”

Is the Indian democracy moving away from multiparty contestations to one party majority rule? What implications will it have for Indian federalism, democratic institutions and citizen well-being? Will this journey be different from one party dominant system since Independence leading to crumbling of democratic institutions (including imposition of state emergency in 1970s)? Are Indian elections becoming more skewed as mandate is being sought for policies (populist policies and government programmes) rather than politics be it development paradigm, governance for whom and for what, people’s protest movement, curtailment of civil society engagement, etc. These are some of the relevant questions that emerged from 2019 elections having implications for the functioning of democratic polity.
2019 Elections have shown that ideologies are relevant to win elections. And as such, an effortless anti-incumbency campaign may not, on its own dislodge the incumbent government. Political parties have vacillated between religious and caste identities and their claims to build a secular polity. In these elections, Nehruvian institutional secularism was replaced by a unified conception of indigenous (Hindu) nationhood, thus negating the politics of ‘appeasement’ of minorities. And regional, caste and tribal identities are increasingly invoked to expand electoral constituencies.
The overall approach has been to employ a cocktail of civilisational symbols with a Hindutva flavour. Slogans like ‘development for all’, national security were presented as universal, purer and unadulterated, located in caste, religion, gender and ethnicity. There has been a selective appropriation of universal symbols like Ganga (river), Geeta (scripture), Navratras (ritual), etc, to provide content to (Hindu) civilisational symbols as inclusive and in turn blurred structural realities of caste and religion. Religious, linguistic, caste and regional factors became so mixed up that none of these emerged as a single factor in electoral mobilisation. Elections being sites of contestations for social dominance, how far does it allow to manufacture contextual coalitions of caste or religious affiliations?
Further, electoral discourse mainly focused on blurring the structural inequalities. The common deficient experience becomes consistent with the ‘welfare of all’ thrust of electoral mobilisations. It is this experience of exclusion that has been made central to electoral discourse and not the exclusion of marginalised sections from market and the dominant politics. It can be inferred that the new nation-building project is excessively relying on blurring the structural inequalities through Hindu civilisation symbolisms for building global-friendly capitalism. How Nehruvian Nation Building project and Modi’s New India project are different? What implications it has for multi-cultural ethos and representation and recognition of rights of minorities?
Relevant question arises, how far this cocktail of symbolism will facilitate a catchall approach without degenerating into, to use Huntington’s phrase, clash of civilisations? And, how far the ‘deficient citizenship’ mobilised around slogans like justice for all, successfully appropriated to be able to withstand the strong undercurrent of discontent emanating from structural inequalities?
Are elections reduced to winning and losing and not about shaping the political discourse for building more democratic, justice-oriented, equitable and inclusive polity and society?


【連絡先】KINDAS事務局  indas_office[at]asafas.kyoto-u.ac.jp