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Modi’s India: Thinking About the Future



World Affairs Council Auditorium
312 Sutter Street, Suite 200
San Francisco, CA
7:00 PM – 8:00 PM


David D. Arnold
President, The Asia Foundation


Sunder Ramaswamy
President and Frederick C. Dirks Professor of International Economics, Monterey Institute of International Studies, and Asia Foundation Trustee

Pradeep Chhibber
Professor and Indo-American Community Chair in India Studies, University of California, Berkeley

Thomas Blom
Hansen Reliance-Dhirubhai Ambani Professor of South Asian Studies, Professor of Anthropology and Director, Center for South Asia, Stanford University

In May, India completed the largest democratic election the world has ever seen. Over the course of five weeks, more than 800 million people turned out to cast their votes. The election of Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came as a surprise to many, especially since the incumbent Congress Party has held power for the majority of India’s democratic history.

The overwhelming support for the BJP may be a sign of changing priorities among voters. Rather than voting along religious, caste and other identity lines as has historically been the case, Indians voted for Modi’s promise of economic reform and growth. However, religion remains a strong influence in Indian politics. Only 9% of Muslims voted for the BJP, which may reflect lingering concerns over the 2002 ethnic riots that took place in Gujarat while Modi was chief minister of the state. What does India’s new leadership mean for the country’s economic and foreign policy outlook? What are the implications of lingering religious and ethnic tensions in this vast democracy?

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