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Killing a Constitution with a Thousand Cuts: Executive Aggrandizement and Party-State Fusion in India

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... The election results were seen as an affirmation of Narendra Modi's politics, who has been accused of systematically undermining secularism, political pluralism, and intellectual freedom [16,21,33]. Modi's political program blends a managerial rhetoric of efficiency and innovation with the conservative ideology of Hindu hyper-nationalism [33]. ...
... The election results were seen as an affirmation of Narendra Modi's politics, who has been accused of systematically undermining secularism, political pluralism, and intellectual freedom [16,21,33]. Modi's political program blends a managerial rhetoric of efficiency and innovation with the conservative ideology of Hindu hyper-nationalism [33]. Central to the "NaMo" brand -an acronym for Narendra Modi -is a focus on digital technologies for political outreach. ...
... To be transparent, we are concerned about democratic backsliding in India [16,21,33]. However, we tried to separate our political views from the description of the campaigns. ...
Preprint
Political organizations worldwide keep innovating their use of social media technologies. Here, we document a novel configuration of technologies and organizational forms used to manipulate Twitter trends in the 2019 Indian general election. The organizers rely on an extensive network of WhatsApp groups to coordinate mass-postings by loosely affiliated political supporters. To investigate the campaigns, we joined more than 600 political WhatsApp groups that support the Bharatiya Janata Party, the right-wing party that won the general election. We found direct evidence of 75 hashtag manipulation campaigns, including mobilization messages and lists of pre-written tweets. We estimate the campaigns' size and whether they succeeded in creating controlled social media narratives. We show that the campaigns are smaller than what media reports suggest; still, they reliably produce Twitter trends drawing on the voices of loosely affiliated supporters. Centrally controlled but voluntary in participation, this novel configuration of a campaign complicates the debates over the legitimate use of digital tools for political participation. It may have provided a blueprint for participatory media manipulation by a party with popular support.
... However, in 2016, obliging governors of the states of Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradeshwhich were ruled by parties that were in opposition at the Centrereported that the constitutional machinery in these states had broken down, leading to the federal government dismissing the state governments and assuming direct rule. In both cases, the Supreme Court intervened to restore the dismissed governments(Khaitan 2020). ...
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The present study explores the relationship between trust in state governments and changes in subjective well-being in India, drawing upon the nationally-representative India Human Development Survey (IHDS) panel data for 2005 and 2012. Our econometric results confirm that people’s trust in state governments is positively associated with changes in their subjective well-being in economic aspects. To take into account the endogeneity of people’s trust in the state government, we have used the 2SLS model where the trust is instrumented by (i) whether the winning legislators belonged to the ruling party, and (ii) whether the margin of victory over the closest rival exceeded 12 %. The robustness of the results has been confirmed by the Lewbel IV model in which the internal instruments are used in addition to the two external instruments. The policy focus in rebuilding trust in state governments destroyed by the relentless pursuit of Hindutva and over-centralisation are discussed.
... In this, the BJP merely tapped into rising levels of support for strong leadership (even military), rising levels of religious identification, and growing feelings of discontent with the working of democracy, all of which pre-dated the 2014 general elections (Sircar 2020). Strong levels of support for the current regime among a majority of the population may embolden the BJP to neutralize potential checks on its powers, such as the Supreme Court, the Election Commission, critical journalists or opposition leaders (Khaitan 2020). ...
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When adjudicating religious disputes, constitutional courts often resort to a particular discursive register. The notions ‘tolerance’ and ‘respect’ are an integral part of this religion-specific constitutional register. But what do judges mean when they deploy the language of tolerance and respect? And what substantive role, if any, do both notions play in the constitutional interpretation of religious freedom? This article seeks to answer these conceptual and substantive questions by comparing constitutional case law on religious freedom from India, Israel and the United States. It also provides linkages to ongoing processes of (alleged) constitutional retrogression in the three jurisdictions.
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