India Is Transforming. But Into What?

Produced by ‘The Ezra Klein Show’

India is known as a country of paradoxes, and a new one has recently emerged. At the same time that the country is poised to become a major global player — with a booming economy and a population that recently surpassed China’s — its democracy is showing signs of decay.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his administration have silenced critics and independent institutions. India’s social media discourse has turned increasingly right wing and hostile to Muslims. And Canada and the United States have accused Indian government officials of involvement in assassination plots against Sikh activists.

[You can listen to this episode of “The Ezra Klein Show” on the NYT Audio App, Apple, Spotify, Amazon Music, Google or wherever you get your podcasts.]

Pratap Bhanu Mehta is an honorary senior fellow at the Center for Policy Research, New Delhi; a professor at Princeton University; and an editor of “The Oxford Handbook to the Indian Constitution.” In this conversation, he walks our guest host Lydia Polgreen through India’s rising illiberalism. “The signs for Indian democracy are looking very ominous,” he says.

They discuss the paradox between India’s flourishing economy and culture and signs of weakening democracy, especially at a moment when many Western countries are cheering a rising India as a democratic counterweight to China. They also talk about what makes Modi such a remarkable and effective political leader and what the United States and other countries could or should do in response to a more assertive India that is shattering norms at home.

You can listen to our whole conversation by following “The Ezra Klein Show” on the NYT Audio App, Apple, Spotify, Google or wherever you get your podcasts. View a list of book recommendations from our guests here.

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