Politics and Government in India

Module code: 832M9
Level 7 (Masters)
30 credits in spring teaching
Teaching method: Seminar
Assessment modes: Essay

The study of Indian politics and government offers powerful insights into the challenges faced by, and the achievements of, a young and vibrant democracy in an often challenging regional environment. This module will examine and evaluate how key constitutional features have functioned in India to support its governance and democracy. Indian democracy is an important area of research for political science scholars, especially with regard to its ability to survive and function amidst high social heterogeneity, widespread poverty and illiteracy.

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 good record of holding regular elections. It is an interesting case to further our insights into the dynamics of political change in a large complex country with significant intra-country differences and an evolving party system. This module will provide you with a detailed understanding of major political, social and economic changes in India, beginning from its independence in 1947 to contemporary times, and of how these changes interact with the incentives and pressures India faces on the regional and international level. It will provide you with an in-depth understanding of the ability of institutions such as parliament, political executive, bureaucracy and party system to adapt to and deal with the ongoing pressures of social and economic development in India.

The key themes which are analysed in the module are:

  1. understanding Indian democracy and the institutional set up,
  2. the transformation of Indian party system from single party dominated system to a multi-party competitive system, and the emergence of coalition politics,
  3. identity politics and rise of ethnic parties,
  4. the growing influence of civil society and mass movements and the need for political parties to respond to demands from these organised interests,
  5. the political economy of public policy making and economic reforms in India, including the influence of international institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF,
  6. analysis of how domestic politics, in terms of ideology, party positions and institutions impact India's international politics, and
  7. the key challenges facing the Indian nation both domestically and in the international arena.

The module primarily uses an empirical approach but also presents relevant theoretical constructs and comparative analysis to provide students a rich insight into the politics and government in India.

Module learning outcomes

  • understand and critically evaluate the current domestic and regional political environment and key debates in Indian politics.
  • be acquainted with and able to critically apply contending theoretical approaches to the study of Indian politics and society.
  • employ a range analytical perspectives to critically appreciate the interaction between instruments of governance, the institutions of government and the wider political and social milieu in Indian politics.
  • critically analyse the relationship between democracy and development in India.
  • understand and critically assess the main social, economic, political and international challenges facing India today.