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Contemporary Indian Politics


Admission requirements

No admission pre-requirements. Students who are interested in taking this course, but who are not admitted to one of the mentioned master programmes are requested to contact their co-ordinator of studies.


India had for long been hailed as one the largest successful democracies in the world, and indeed, an inspiration for newly decolonizing countries in the global south. Its immense diversity and complexity (with many religions, regions, castes, and class) have animated the political domain in often fiercely contentious ways, challenging deeply entrenched historical inequalities. Political contestations have played out not only in the realm of formal electoral politics, but also in multiple arenas of everyday life, posing new puzzles for analyses, to which liberal political theory does not always offer satisfactory answers. For example, in what ways has politics in India challenged theories of civil society or analyses of urban politics through dichotomies of legality and illegality?
Contemporary Indian politics has been in the headlines of global news in recent times. Analysts have pointed to democratic backsliding. New constitutional amendments threaten the rights of minorities, foreground the limits of constitutional and legal redress, and lay bare the various modes and modalities through which power operates in the lives of citizens. Even as new challenges confront the people of India, the governed continue to negotiate longstanding political and social marginalization, perhaps with ever more urgency. The course will examine key themes in contemporary Indian politics (e.g. minorities, politics of state security, urban and resource politics, caste and Dalit politics). It will be founded in historical, anthropological, and critical theory perspectives such that studying politics in India will become an avenue for global comparative analyses.

Course objectives

The course aims to impart an in-depth understanding of contemporary Indian politics, which will enable the students to:

  • understand how different political institutions, actors and processes shape Indian politics;

  • comprehend the multiple trajectories and contestations of Indian democracy;

  • critically reflect upon categories and methodologies of political analysis;

  • develop skills in research, analysis, presentation and writing


Visit MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

Seminar. The course combines lectures, discussions of readings (primary and secondary source material) and presentations.

Assessment method

In order to pass the course, students must obtain an overall mark of 6.0 or higher. Students who have received less in their assignments and research papers will be allowed to resubmit and be given additional 7 days and 15 days respectively.

10 EC course

  • Participation in class, two short written assignments & presentations: (50%)

  • One Long Research Paper & Presentation: (50%)

Reading list

Students who want to start preparing themselves before the start of the course can get a provisionary Reading List from the lecturer (see contact details below)


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch


Dr. R. Gupta