Monday, November 8, 2021
4:00 - 5:00 PM (EDT)
Hybrid event

Lindner Family Commons Room 602
Elliott School of International Affairs
1957 E Street NW, Washington DC 20052

Please note: In-person attendees must wear face masks at all times while in GW buildings.
If you are not a GW student, member of faculty, or staff, additional protocols apply for in-person attendance (see, and we strongly encourage you to join via Zoom.

This event is on the record and open to the public.
Over the past two decades, thanks to Narendra Modi, Hindu nationalism has been coupled with a form of national-populism that has ensured its success at the polls, first in Gujarat and then in India at large. Modi managed to seduce a substantial number of citizens by promising them development and polarizing the electorate along ethno-religious lines. Both facets of this national-populism found expression in a highly personalized political style as Modi related directly to the voters through all kinds of channels of communication in order to saturate the public space.

Drawing on original interviews conducted across India, Christophe Jaffrelot shows how Modi’s government has moved India toward a new form of democracy, an ethnic democracy that equates the majoritarian community with the nation and relegates Muslims and Christians to second-class citizens who are harassed by vigilante groups. He discusses how the promotion of Hindu nationalism has resulted in attacks against secularists, intellectuals, universities, and NGOs. Jaffrelot explains how the political system of India has acquired authoritarian features for other reasons, too. Eager to govern not only in New Delhi, but also in the states, the government has centralized power at the expense of federalism and undermined institutions that were part of the checks and balances, including India’s Supreme Court.

Modi’s India is a sobering account of how a once-vibrant democracy can go wrong when a government backed by popular consent suppresses dissent while growing increasingly intolerant of ethnic and religious minorities.
Christophe Jaffrelot works at the Centre for International Research (CERI)-Sciences Po and served as its Director from 2000 to 2008. He is currently a senior research fellow at CNRS and a professor at Sciences Po. He is also a Professor of Indian Politics and Sociology at the India Institute, King’s College London, and has taught at Columbia University, Yale University, Johns Hopkins University, the Université de Montréal, and as a Global Scholar at Princeton University. Since 2008, he has been a non-resident fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. His last book, co-authored with Pratinav Anil, is India’s First Disctatorship. The Emergency, 1975-77, London, Hurst, 2020 and his forthcoming book is Modi’s India. Hindu Nationalism and the Rise of Ethnic Democracy, Princeton University Press, 2021.
Introductory remarks by:
Alyssa Ayres was appointed dean of the Elliott School of International Affairs and professor of history and international affairs at George Washington University effective February 1, 2021. Ayres is a foreign policy practitioner and award-winning author with senior experience in the government, nonprofit, and private sectors. From 2013 to 2021, she was senior fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), where she remains an adjunct senior fellow.
Deepa Ollapally is a political scientist specializing in Indian foreign policy, India-China relations, and Asian regional and maritime security. She is Research Professor of International Affairs and the Associate Director of the Sigur Center. She also directs the Rising Powers Initiative, a major research program that tracks and analyzes foreign policy debates in aspiring powers of Asia and Eurasia.
Marlene Laruelle, Ph.D., is Director of the Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies; Director of the Central Asia Program; Director of the Illiberalism Studies Program; Co-Director of PONARS Eurasia; and Research Professor of International Affairs at The George Washington University. She works on political, social, and cultural changes in the post-Soviet space. Marlene's research explores the transformations of nationalist and conservative ideologies in Russia, nationhood construction in Central Asia, as well as the development of Russia's Arctic regions.
The Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies
60th Anniversary Celebration

Join us this fall as we celebrate six decades of excellence at the Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies! Celebrations will include a semester-long program of exciting events that bring together members of the IERES community, both past and present, and members of the international community to commemorate the Institute’s achievements. Click here to learn more about our history and stay up-to-date on the celebration.
Illiberalism Studies Program
Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (IERES)
Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University
1957 E Street, NW | Suite 412 | Washington, DC | 20052