Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
Center for Contemporary South Asia

Is Narendra Modi a populist?

October 23, 2017

In his October 23rd, 2017 Indian Express article, Ashutosh Varshney,  argues that populism's essence is expressed in the idea that the will of the masses, expressed in elections, is higher than the constitution and law, and the customary institutions of oversight in a democracy must follow the law. This idea takes a left-wing and a right-wing form. The core idea of left wing populism is economic redistribution; the core idea of the right-wing populism is the ownership of the nation by a racial, religious or ethnic majorit, with minorities viewed as supplicants. While Indira Gandhi is the best example of left wing populism in India's history, Narendra Modi exemplifies right wing populism. This is also the first time right-wing populism has come to rule the center in India. Read the full article.