On Thursday November 24th the IE Humanities Center  hosted the second conference of the Cycle India: Present and Future , focusing this time on the subject of politics, under the title “Politics: the Largest Democracy”. This event was dedicated to the complex Indian political reality and the discussion panel included IE University’s IR Professor Babita Bhatt, Universidad Complutense’s Professor and expert on India Eva Borreguero  and IE’s IR Academic Director Daniel Kselman , who acted as moderator.
Professor Kselman introduced the conversation speaking about the incredible diversity of India, a country with more than a billion people and 22 official languages and remembering how this “diversity in democracy” was thought impossible to survive at the time of its independence as, for example, Britain thought it was rather a civilization than a nation. However, as professor Kselman said “the diversity glues the country as they need one another” specially after configuring a multi party system, despite the different interests of state-level democracies, as well as national and regional parties, which has contributed to a progressive institutionalization of democracy.
Professor Bhatt started the discussion on the first thematic block of the event focused on domestic policies of India, centered on the two parties that have ruled India since the independence, namely, the Indian National Congress (I.N.C.) and Bharatiya Janata Party (B.J.P). After explaining the common view of each of them (I.N.C. is considered a dynastic party of the Nehru-Gandhi family and B.J.P. a pro Hinduist nationalist party), it was inevitable to talk about current Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi. Professor Bhatt gave an exhaustive description of the controversial figure, often compared to Trump or Putin and of his intention to project an image of a C.E.O rather than a politician, of an honest man who is an example of social promotion (he comes from a humble background), dedicated to his country (a single man whose only concern is the welfare of the Indians) with a successful record (as governor of Gujarat he got its economy increased by double figures during his term in office). The panel then analysed his two years in office and the recent issue of the demonetization and how could it affect the average citizen as well as politics in terms of party funding.
The second block was dedicated to India’s foreign affairs and its capacity to equate its economic position with its international influence. Professor Borreguero was quite clear India in expressing that “India has too many internal problems to become a global player and too many differences with his neighbours” referring to Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh. The moderator ask both speakers on the lasting Pakistani-Indian Conflict on Kashmir. Both experts agreed that the more likely scenario was interspersed periods of tension and calm between the two nuclear powers, since an external enemy is always useful in domestic policy, and that an open conflict or a long lasting peace was quite a remote scenario.
As a conclusion, Prof. Borreguero insisted on the “elastic” capacity of the Indian democracy to face present and future challenges and Prof. Bhatt pointed out that maybe the biggest threat was the growing Indian middle-class who does not necessarily perceive democracy as a form of government leading to economic growth.
The moderator invited the audience to give their insights in all of these issues and the discussion was enriched by the comments of IE’s students.