Too big too fast?

India’s Party consists of two major parties–the INC and the BJP– as well as smaller left-leaning communist parties and regional parties tied to ethnic and religious identities. The INC dominated the political system for a long time, similar to Mexico’s PRI, and was pro-national independence had a social democracy ideology. The BJP party supports a pro-Hindu national identity as well as neo-liberal economics and in recent years had gained a majority in the legislature. The smaller parties of India can be found creating coalition governments with either the INC or BJP to gain power over the legislature.1

 

Unlike the United States Supreme Court which only hears around 70 cases a year, the Indian Supreme Court can hear up to 700 cases a day. Due to India’s large and growing population and the youth of their democracy which consists of many ethnic and religious divides India’s court often has difficulty in reaching a decision. Similar to the judicial branch, India’s parliament also can often be found in argument rather than agreement. The people have become fed up with the government’s inability to reach conclusions causing them to fail to provide many basic services.2

 

With two major parties dominating Indian politics, are the rights of minorities really being both represented and protected and do the political parties help or hurt the government’s struggle to reach agreements?

 

In order to represent all of  India’s many religious and ethnic identities, the government has a system of asymmetric federalism. Along with local governments that represent the regional differences of India’s population, India’s smaller political parties serve to represent these different identities. However, with two major parties which are in support of national independence and Hinduism consistently dominating parliament the smaller religions and ethnicities struggle to find their voice in politics. The INC and BJP parties need to take into recognition that their campaigns may not be representing the entirety of the population and seek to address this concern in the future.


  1. Patrick H. O’Neil, Karl Fields, Don Share, “Cases In Comparative Politics”, 6th ed. W.W. Norton & Company (2018) 475-484.
  2. “Hundreds of Cases a Day and a Flair for Drama: India’s Crusading Supreme Court” The Economist. (Sept. 27, 2018) https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/27/world/asia/india-supreme-court-modi.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fasia&action=click&contentCollection=asia&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=search&contentPlacement=2&pgtype=sectionfront

Screw the Court

A few years ago, the New Yorker published an article regarding the social sphere around the election in India. Before the election, the public was immersed in it. The outcome of the election, though, was shocking: the BJP obtained 334 seats while India’s oldest and longest-reigning majority got 44. This election felt dramatic for another reason; the candidate elected Prime Minister has been connected to encouraging riots against Muslims and disregarding civil rights. The author believes Modi changed the election to feel like a referendum on one person. He must now live up to the expectations he set in his campaign. (1)

 

The New York Times published an article regarding the protests around the Sabarimala Temple, an ancient temple in the Hindu Religion. The Indian Supreme Court recently removed a law passed in 1991 that stated women were banned from praying at the temple. Ever since, women attempting to go have been harassed and attacked. Prime Minister Modi, his party, the BJP, and the INC are in support of the riots. Though Supreme Court rulings are loosely enforced in rural areas, the coalition Communist parties of the area encourage the women visiting. (2)

 

How has India’s political shift in 2014 influenced the religious strife and cultural resistance to the Supreme court?

 

Many countries we have studied have experienced a dramatic change in government. Nigeria had its first change in parties in the state’s second democratic election in 2015. Mexico’s government had its first change in parties in 2000. The UK has not experienced a sort of dramatic, democratic consolidation change as these other countries, but it did have a shift in government that accommodated for the people’s want for Brexit. All of these shifts lead to changes within the societies. India’s change in government has led to a conservative religious sphere that ignores the rights of the minority groups. These changes could be troublesome for the new democracy as time goes on.

 

(1) Samanth Subramanian. “The Stunning Result in India’s Elections”. The New Yorker. (May 16, 2014)

(2) Kai Schultz. “Clashes Blocking Women From Temple in India Bring Over 2,000 Arrests.” The New York Times (October 26, 2018) https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/26/world/asia/india-hindu-temple-arrests.html?rref=collection/timestopic/India&action=click&contentCollection=world®ion=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=collection.