The world’s largest democracy is sliding toward competitive authoritarianism, and the covid-19 pandemic has sped it along the way. In responding to the virus, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government not only imposed a strict nationwide lockdown—with devastating collateral damage—but also adopted a governing style that weakened the position of India’s states and cut the parliamentary opposition out of decision making. The hollowing-out of judicial review and the government’s attacks on the media have intensified the threat to democratic governance. It will take a herculean effort for a weak opposition, acting in an adverse institutional environment, to confront the BJP’s authoritarian politics head on and halt India’s backsliding before the country has passed the point of no return.
Covid vs. Democracy: India’s Illiberal Remedy
Issue Date October 2020
Page Numbers 91-105