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About Rajeev Bhargava

Rajeev Bhargava is professor of political theory and Indian political thought, a prolific writer and the Director of CSDS, the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, in Delhi.

Articles by Rajeev Bhargava

This week’s front page editor


Sunny Hundal is openDemocracy’s social media editor.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

United colours of the American elections - in three continents

"Many temples in South India held prayers for Obama’s victory in the 2008 elections. Haven’t heard of any this time round. Here is one from me, after four encounters on three continents."

States, religious diversity, and the crisis of secularism

In India, the existence of deep religious diversity has ensured a conceptual response not only to problems within but also between religions. Without taking it as a blue print, the west must examine the Indian conception and learn from it, regarding peace between communities, community-specific rights, the rights of minorities, the porous divide between the modern state and religion, and the skills to accommodate the latter. They might begin by jettisoning the preoccupation with ‘equal treatment’.

The Indian experience

What is the connection between elections, democracy, and the life-chances of the poor? Rajeev & Tani Bhargava draw a lesson from India in this, openDemocracy's first article, originally published on 13 May 2001.

India's model: faith, secularism and democracy

Western variants of multiculturalism and secularism are being challenged by religious demands for public recognition of faith. Instead of reinventing the wheel, the world should learn from India, says Rajeev Bhargava.

The magic of Indian democracy: questions for Antara Dev Sen

“Democracies are coded for impatience. Voters can wait, but not indefinitely.” After India’s astonishing election, Rajeev Bhargava counsels Congress: deliver fairness, or the BJP and Hindu chauvinism will be back.

The political psychology of Hindu nationalism

Why does Hindu nationalism take an aggressive, exclusive form? This is a question of psychology as well as politics. Rajeev Bhargava, in New Delhi, examines the worldview of activists who use "Indianness" as a weapon against their Muslim, Christian, and secular fellow-citizens.

Poverty and political freedom

The great Indian economist Amartya Sen has proposed the mind-opening idea that democracy is a protection against famine. Rajeev Bhargava takes up the theme. How can political freedom help the poor, he asks, not just in their material life but in expanding their sense of society and its horizon of possibility?

It is part of a conventional, commonsense worldview that freedom means little to those without shelter, clothing or food and that, for the poor, the fulfilment of basic needs has priority over political freedoms.

The Indian refusal

The Indian government has finally refused America’s request to send thousands of troops to help police Iraq. Our New Delhi columnist welcomes a triumph of principle over power but questions the meaning of its long delay. For India’s ambitious new elite, the request appealed to the country’s martial-imperial legacy and its own hunger for global status. Can the moral foundations of Indian statehood survive this elite’s ambition to make India a superpower?

India in the face of globalisation

There is intense concern in India about the divisive impact of globalisation on the country’s economy, society, culture, and even its democracy itself. Our Delhi columnist reports from a recent conference where discussion centred around the dilemma: should the beast be fought, tamed, or humanised?

Gujarat: shades of black

The Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has just been re-elected to govern Gujarat. On a recent visit there, our New Delhi editor found a near-uniform hatred of Muslims among the Hindu middle class. Beneath the communal poison, a deeper crisis of the Indian public realm is at work – an egoism that is fostered by caste-based identity, and reinforced by globalisation.

Words save lives: India, the BJP and the Constitution

India, the world’s largest democracy, is in danger. Fundamentalists, religious fanatics and a corrupt government have combined to threaten its future as a constitutional, democratic state. The challenge to its secular rule of law echoes and reinforces contests elsewhere around the world.

India's majority-minority syndrome

In recent months, the state of Gujarat in western India has witnessed horrendous massacres of Muslims by Hindu nationalist gangs. openDemocracy’s New Delhi editor sees the violence as the latest example of a wider phenomenon in India: an imprisoning syndrome of mistrust which has both Hindu majority and Muslim minority in its destructive grip.Many more people in India have died before in communal massacres, a greater number have been displaced, and perhaps a much larger amount of property has been reduced to cinder.

Understand the whispers

The experience of those who suffer injustice and see it erased before it is spoken of must be heard for a larger process of reconciliation to begin. Rajeev Bhargava, in New Delhi, reflects.
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