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Contemporary Indian Politics (ResMA)


Admission requirements

Admission to the MA Asian Studies (research) or another relevant research MA programme. Students from other departments are kindly referred to the course description of the regular MA course.


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;

  • think comparatively about global politics

  • develop skills in research, analysis, presentation and writing


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar.

Attendance is compulsory for all sessions. Students must prepare well and contribute to in-class discussion. If a student cannot attend because of illness or misadventure, they should promptly inform the convener. Absence without notification may result in lower grades or exclusion from assessment components and a failing grade for the course..

Assessment method

Academic Integrity

Students should familiarize themselves with the notion of academic integrity and the ways in which this plays out in their own work. A good place to start is this page. Plagiarism will not be tolerated. Students may not substantially reuse texts they have previously submitted in this or other courses. Minor overlap with previous work is allowed as long as it is duly noted in citation.

Assessment and weighing

Partial Assessment Weighing
Participation in class, short written assignments & presentation 50%
One long research paper & presentation 50%

The final mark for this course is formed by the weighted average.

In order to pass the course, students must obtain an overall mark of 5.50 (=6) or higher.

The course is an integrated whole. All assessment parts must be completed in the same academic year. No partial marks can be carried over into following years.


Only if the total weighted average is insufficient (5.49 or lower) students will be given an option to resubmit the final essay (50%) within a set period of time.

No re-sits or resubmissions are possible for the other assignments.

Inspection and feedback

If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

The reading list will be provided at the start of the course.

Students who want to start preparing themselves before the start of the course can get a provisionary Reading List from the lecturer, Dr. Radhika Gupta.

For the Research MA students additional readings will be determined by the convener at a later stage taking into account the students’ fields of interest.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available on the website.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer, Dr. R. Gupta .

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Vrieshof