Politics

Political Change: India

Module code: L2095
Level 6
30 credits in autumn teaching
Teaching method: Seminar
Assessment modes: Coursework, Essay

Indian politics, society and economy have undergone substantial changes since the country's independence in 1947. Today India is an important emerging economy with a well developed party system and has a reasonable record of holding regular elections. Indian democracy has been an important area of research for scholars, especially with regard to its ability to survive and function amidst high social heterogeneity, widespread poverty and illiteracy. It is an interesting case to further our insights into the dynamics of political change in a large country amidst multiple social cleavages, significant intra-country differences and an evolving party system. 

This module explores key themes in Indian politics and society to understand the process of political change since its independence. You will analyse how the relationship between political actors and the wider society has been transformed through the rise of ethnic parties and identity politics, the growing importance of state-level parties and civil society movements. It explores how political parties are faced with the need to respond to demands from these organised interests and social movements. 

The key themes analysed in this module are:

  • The transformation of Indian party system from single party dominated system to a fragmented and multi-party competitive system
  • Political importance of socially underprivileged groups, ethnic parties and identity politics
  • The increased prominence of regional parties and emergence of coalition politics
  • The growing influence of civil society, mass movements and media
  • The key challenges facing the Indian nation


While exploring the key themes above the module analyses major factors that have led to political change and the ways in which this change has affected political actors in India. The module primarily uses an empirical approach but also presents relevant theoretical constructs and some comparative analysis to provide you with a rich insight into the politics of change in India.

Module learning outcomes

  • Be able to account for political change in India since independence
  • Develop an argument based on academic sources in an organised and structured way
  • Evaluate and use appropriate theories or approaches to the study of politics to account for change in India
  • Organise and use evidence from a range of sources to illustrate political change in India