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The Fourth Wave - Can India’s New Democracy Revival Sustain?


Jun 23 2024 to Jun 23 2024 11:30 a.m.



Bangalore International Centre

7 4th Main Rd, Stage 2, Domlur 560071

Event Description

Despite the clear danger of the rise of totalitarianism in India today, Radha Kumar’s book, The Republic Relearnt: Renewing Indian Democracy (1947-2024) aims is to look forward to the moment when democracy will be renewed in the country and ask what lessons can be learnt from past experience to anchor it more firmly when the opportunity arises. It is generally assumed that Indian democracy has had an unbroken run since Independence, with the brief disruption of the 1975–77 Emergency. While those two years saw a stark assault on democratic institutions, Indian democracy had been repeatedly punctured prior to the Emergency, and it has been threatened many times since. The country underwent almost four decades of democracy decay after the founding years of the republic, as compared to the three relatively short-lived waves of democracy renewal. That fact makes an examination of these three waves rather significant. Examining the three waves of democracy renewal, Kumar finds that the most valuable lessons lie in policy actions as well as proposals that were left unimplemented. These, which ranged from electoral reform to human development, social justice and institutional as well as federal autonomy, could form the bedrock for a third republic, albeit partly. India’s democratic future, Kumar concludes, depends on the extent to which a revived political opposition and civil and political society can draw on the lessons of the three waves of democracy renewal. In this session, she is in conversation with Lakshmi Arya Thathachar, Associate Professor, RV University.

A Q&A with the audience will follow.


Radha Kumar Author & Former Director-General, Delhi Policy Group

Radha Kumar is former Director General of the Delhi Policy Group and a specialist on peace and security in South Asia. Earlier Director of the Mandela Centre for Peace at Jamia Millia Islamia University (2005-2010), Dr. Kumar was also Senior Fellow in Peace and Conflict Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York (1999-2003) and Associate Fellow at the Institute for War and Peace Studies at Columbia University (1996-8). She has been chair of the United Nations University council and is currently vice-president of the board of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. She was one of the three Kashmir interlocutors appointed by the Government of India (2010-11). Dr. Kumar’s latest book is The Republic Relearnt: Renewing Indian Democracy, 1947-2024 (Penguin Vintage: 2024). Her previous books include Paradise at War: A Political History of Kashmir (Aleph: 2018, updated paperback 2024), A Gender Atlas of India (with Karthika Sudhir and Marcel Korff, Sage: 2018), Making Peace with Partition (Penguin: 2005), Divide and Fall? Bosnia in the Annals of Partition (Verso: 1997), and A History of Doing: Movements for Women’s Rights and Feminism in India, 1900-1990 (Kali for Women and Verso: 1993). Her articles have been published in Foreign Affairs, the EU Institute for Security Studies, the Centre for European Policy Studies, the World Policy Journal, the Brown Journal of World Affairs, the Indian Economic and Social History Review, the Economic and Political Weekly and Seminar. She is a frequent OpEd contributor to Indian newspapers.

Lakshmi Arya Thathachar Dean, Research & Associate Professor, RV University

Lakshmi Arya Thathachar has a PhD in Modern Indian History from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. She has been a Fulbright-Nehru Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Emory University, Atlanta, and a Charles Wallace Postdoctoral Fellow at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London. She has also been a Fellow at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla, and a Gender, Sexuality and Law Visiting Fellow at Keele University, UK. Lakshmi’s research interests are interdisciplinary and traverse history and philosophy, particularly political philosophy, epistemology, philosophy of religion, and the socio-cultural history of modern India. She is currently Dean- Research and Associate Professor at RV University, Bengaluru. Lakshmi also writes creatively. Her poems and short stories have been published in various literary journals.

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