Who will come next? (Blog post # 11 on 04.17.17)

One of the fundamental differences between Pepinsky and Snyder is that the degree of authoritarianism involves into the daily lives of the people. In Snyder, I found, the Nazi authoritarianism dealt more with the philosophy of manipulating the mass people. Hitler, followed by his disciples – the Elites – understood that if they need to contribute to/bring the ‘struggle’ they were so enthusiastically talking about, mass people need to be incorporated. For doing so, the only feasible way was to spread the fear. Fear against establishment, fear against the ‘other,’ fear against the possibilities of future. Hence, they were penetrating into the mind set of people for A) to grab the power, B) to hold the power.

 

With the example of Pepinsky, we did not see the example of Malaysian model authoritarianism to be involved in such a way. We somewhat find similarities of it with the model of Bermeo that if people find security in their day-to-day lives, they become less eager and bothered about the political arena gradually.

 

If one needs to be fit in the current context of the USA and UK, I would personally like to see the model of Pepinsky. But, surprisingly, the model of Snyder matches the current situation of the USA’s politics. I am not anywhere close to suggest that the USA is going for an authoritarianism, but what I would like to argue that the changed political situation here started with the constant pushing from ‘anti-establishment’ people who were trying to spread the message of fear. Fear amongst the general people. A counter argument can come here that the unprecedented reason of the current political situation in the USA is due to the faulty system of electoral college as the popular vote did not support the ‘anti-establishment’ vive in the politics. I agree, but can anyone disagree, even after the solid difference between two ideologies, the current ‘anti-establishment’ did win? People did go for that, even if 1% or 10% or 30%, people did go for that. This gives goosebumps that the very unlikely, unprecedented, unthought-of idea/ideology is on the rise. Will that pave into anti-democracy, or authoritarianism? Time will say.

Who let the democracy go? Ordinary vs extraordinary. (Blog post # 10, 04.11.17)

Definitely Zakaria did make a very strong argument that total four challenges – demography, globalization, technology and fiscal decisions – created a cultural polarization of contemporary Western societies. People here are not singlehandedly moved by any of the political dimensions, rather shaped and sometimes tormented with everything else going on around. As a matter of fact, political polarization is not beyond the influence of this cultural polarization. However, I still am persuaded more by the argument of Bermeo. With extensive analytical description of Brazil and Uruguay in the twenty-five-year period from 1959-1979, Bermeo showed that ‘ordinary’ people played a very insignificant role in the fall of democracy, if not at all. Be it Brazil in the hand of Goulart or be it Uruguay starting with the economic crisis in the 1960s, political actions guided (sometimes forced) ordinary people to follow a certain path, not the opposite. Interestingly, even if the emergence of extreme violent right wing ‘Tupamaro’ created a sense of uncertainties among the mass people and failed to gain any significant support from them. Presence of the labor union, student unions, people affiliated with the only university in Uruguay during the period of ups-and-downs of the democracy – all indicate that there was a strong presence of the elite class who decided which path to follow, which step to take next. With all the examples we get from Bermeo, it is evidential that neither in the interwar Europe nor in the South America, ordinary people got the mandate to facilitate agendas of the political game. Hence, they remained only as a part of the game of politics, sometimes somewhat profoundly, sometimes insignificantly.

In conclusion, I do not want to create a fine line between the argument of Zakaria and Bermeo. With innumerable examples, Bermeo did establish that external factors tend to shape the interest of the elite people. While analyzing both Brazil and Uruguay, the influence of the Cuban revolution should be taken into consideration. Emergence of the right-wing in Uruguay was facilitated by stagnant economy. Both of them can be categorized as challenges under globalization if somebody wants to follow the argument of Zakaria. Polarization of politics is actually an ongoing and complex process, it cannot be decided or determined by any single factor. In cases where there were elites making the breakthrough in democratization, role of ordinary citizens cannot be absolutely eliminated. Likewise, if any political protest/movement is started by the mass people, eventually elites in forms of civil society come into the equation to play a role of mediator. Hence, even if the equation demands two parties, there are, indeed, two parties – elites and ordinary people – both of them are functioning.

Research Journal # 10

After having a fruitful meeting with Dr. Kendhammer last week, now I have structured works to carry on.

  1. To redefine the research question. The research question is: “If the Hindu Nationalism in India is compatible to democracy?” After setting up the research question, I need to lay ground on the important points of the RQ, such as, what is compatibility? What is nationalism? Am I talking about common identity? Is that common identity exclusive or inclusive to the rights of other who do not have that common identity?
  2. In the outline section, I need to give more focus on tailoring both the theoretical section and empirical section according to my research question.
  3. In the theoretical section, the paper also demands an in depth analysis of the relationship between religion and democracy.

The other side of the transition: From Democracy to Authoritarian Regimes (Blog Post # 9, 04/10/17)

When I was asking the question in the class of “Transition from Authoritarian Rule,” that how democracies turn into authoritarian regimes in particular, little did I know that “ordinary people” play a role in that. Interestingly, as Nancy Bermeo has raised the question in the “Ordinary People in Extraordinary Times,” to what extent people play a role? Even if they play a role in it, is it, somehow, time and place bound? This theory can be tested in terms of current United States. Today’s USA does have a polarization model but unlike to the one described by Bermeo. Bermeo, taking the examples of interwar Europe, has showed that in Europe there was a polarization where democracy was in one pole and anti-democracy was in the other. Despite of the general belief that ordinary people did channel the anti-democratic movements, Bermeo with empirical evidences showed ordinary people had little to do with that. Rather, those movements have often been influenced by economic depression, decision of the ruling parties, liaison between the political parties and elitists, international interest groups etc. Unlike those situations, the USA has a polarization within the democracy or the democratic practices: the Republics and the Democrats. Although sometimes the literatures suggest that both of the ideologies are two sides of same coin, there approaches differ. In this interesting game of politics, civil society and sometimes, ordinary people often play a crucial and determining role. To take example from the current time, media as civil society is strongly associated in political conflict. And then again, a part of the media is also engaged in supporting (mostly) all of the political decisions taken by the government. Thus, it this entire situation of democracy is considered one unit, there are bits and pieces in it. And every bits and pieces is characterized by a different type of polarization, sometimes from within.

 

Now, coming to the role of ordinary people in extraordinary time of the USA in the post-election time. We have experienced the organizations and protestations of “ordinary” people against mostly the Executive Ban signed by President Trump which created a public opinion. I do have my own doubts that those organizing of people influenced judges to rule the Executive Ban, but still it played a role. That was an extraordinary situation. But, the question is, outside of these type of situation, how long and how often do the people of the USA care about fighting for or against democratization? As an international student, I have the feeling that it is somewhat likewise to the situation of CCP in China and its strategy that if there is economic progress, people will care less about democracy (but not entirely the case though). People in the USA do engage in the shifting mass allegiances but not as a polar opposition to the democracy, rather they provide a support system for the democratic movement.

Research Journal # 9

Bibliography

Here goes the bibliography of my research paper.

 

Assayag, Jackie. 2003. “Spectral Secularism: Religion, Politics and Democracy in India.” Journal of European Social Sciences 325-357.

Banarjee, Sikata. 1998. “Political Secularization and the Future of Secular Democracy in India: The Case of Maharastra.” Asian Survey 907-927.

Barro, Robert J. 1999. “Determinants of Democracy.” Journal of Political Economy S158-S183.

Betancourt, Roger and Gleason, Suzanne. 2000. “The Allocation of Publicly-Provided Goods to Rural Households in India: On Some Consequences of Caste, Religion and Democracy.” World Development 2169-2182.

Bhalotra, Sonia, Irma Clots-Figueras, and Iyer, Lakshmi Cassanm Guilhem. 2012. “Religion, Politician Identity and Development Outcomes: Evidence from India.” Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization 4-17.

Bhargava, Rajib. 2003. “The Cultural Nationalism of the New HIndu.” Politics Abroad 11-17.

Bhattacharjee, Malini. 2016. “Seva, Hindutva, and the Politics of Post-Earthuake Relief and Reconstruction in Rural Kutch.” Asian Ethnology 75-104.

Cesari, Jocelyne. 2016. “Religion and Democratisation: When and How it matters.” Journal of Religious and Political Practices 131-134.

Coleman, Jennifer. 2008. “Authoring (In)Authenticity, Regulating Religious Tolerance.” Cultural Dynamics 245-277.

Cossman, Brenda and Kapur, Ratna. 1997. “Secularism’s Last Sigh?: The Hindu Right, the Courts, and India’s Struggle for Democracy.” Harverd International Law Journal 113-170.

Elshtain, Jean Bethke. 2009. “Religion and Democracy.” Journal of Democracy 5-17.

Ganguly, Sumit. 2003. “The Crisis of Indian Secularism.” Journal of Democracy 11-25.

Kaviraj, Sudipta. 2000. “Modernity and Politics in India.” American Academy of Arts and Sciences (The MIT Press) 137-162.

Kaviraj, Sudipta. 1997. “Religion and Identity in India.” Ethnic and Racial Studies 325-244.

Lijphart, Arend. 1996. “The Puzzle of Indian Democracy: A Consociational Interpretation.” Americal Political Science Association 258-268.

Mahajan, Gurpreet, and Surinder S. Jodha. 2009. Religions, Democrary, and Governance: Spaces for the Marginalized in Contemporary India. Working Paper , New Delhi: Religions and Development Research Programme.

Mitra, Subrata K. 2013. “The Ambivalent Moderation of Hindu Nationalism in India.” Australian Journal of Political Science 269-285.

Nussbaum, Martha. 2008. “The Clash Within: Democracy and the Hindu Right.” Journal of Human Development 357-375.

Ogden, Chris. 2012. “A Lasting Legacy: The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance and India’s Politics.” Journal of Contemporary Asia.

Perrett, Roy W. 1997. “Teligion and Politics in India: Some Philosophical Perspectives.” Religious Studies 1-14.

Rudolph, Susanne H., and Rudoplph, Lioyd I. 2002. “New Dimensions in Indian Democracy.” Journal of Democeacy 52-66.

Shandel, William Van. 2009. A History of Bangladesh. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Stepan, Alfred C. 2000. “Religion, Democracy, and the “Twin Tolerations.” Journal of Democracy 37-57.

Suri, K.C. 2004. “Democracy, Economic Reforms and Election Results in India.” Economic and Political Weekly 5404-5411.

Varshney, Ashutosh. 2014. “Hindu Nationalism in Power?” Journal of Democracy 34-45.

Research Journal # 8

Brief History of Hindu Nationalism: So, when did the Hindu nationalism start? What was the purpose of it? Literatures suggest that it was during the British period when the “Hindu nationalism” started to rise on popularity. Before the British period, there was the presence of religious rigidity and exclusion based on Hindu philosophy, but the political movement can only be dated back to the British period. With the hand of British philosophical expansion and educational system in late 19th and early 20th Century, the first phase of Hindu nationalism started to spread. Interestingly, in this first phase the definition of Hindu nationalism was given by the British themselves instead of the Indian. To elaborate, when the British needed to have a “deeper understanding of India” (Bhargava 2003, 11), the associated some (political) characteristics to the theology and philosophy of Hinduism. It was done for their purpose only. But that idea started to spread among the Indians when the politicized idea (definition and characteristics) was taught to Indians, particularly the young generation of Indians who were attending ‘modern’ educational institutions of British India. Thus, those young Indians embraced the idea of Hindu nationalism which was articulated by the British. Later, the different independence movements of India against the British Empire were developed based on the politicized idea of Hindu nationalism.

Starting from the late 19th century when the British Empire was introducing and implementing separate “laws and electorates” (Bhargava 2003, 12) which this took momentum in the early 20th Century created the second phase for the development of Hindu nationalism. These segregation policies were successfully creating division and compartmentalization between Hindus and Muslims. In the 1930s and 1940s, it was evidential that based on these separation laws and electorates, Hindus were enjoying more benefits in comparison to the Muslims. This realization in conjunction with numerous other economic and social reasons created a stiff division between Hindus and Muslims. It also resulted into an increased self-satisfaction among Hindus.

Both of the above mentioned phases contributed in the development of the third phase which was directly a political one at the end of the British Empire. This has a direct correlation with political democratization in the Indian subcontinent. Based on the sharpened Hindu nationalism and deteriorated relationship between Hindus and Muslims, finally the Indian subcontinent was divided into two separate countries: India (based on Hindu nationalism) and Pakistan (based on Islamic nationalism). Definitely, there was an enormous stake in it for the Muslims as well who proactively advocated the separation between two countries based on religious nationalism, however, it was an outcome of a process initiated by the British Empire years ago. Both of the parties, for the unique example of nation creation, were simultaneously received great loss in lives, economy, and so on. Nevertheless, the new journey was more critical for Pakistan, particularly East Pakistan. Interestingly, with the popular leader Pandit Jawaharalal Naheru, India tried to diffuse the stiff presence and impacts of Hindu nationalism in Indian politics. But, his untimely death resulted into an incomplete attempt of transforming India into a true secular democracy.

Research Journal # 7

What is Hindu Nationalism? Hinduism and Hindu Nationalism are two associated but separate things. One is a religious understanding and the other one is a political (Kaviraj 2000)(Kaviraj, Religion and Identity in India 1997) Hinduism is the religion which is the major religion in India in terms of populations. It does not have any (direct) political behavior rather maintains theological guidelines for different spheres of lives. Hindu nationalism, although based on the fundamentals of Hindu religion, has taken a more structured, often a very conservative approach to address different political issues in India. From definitional perspective: Hindu nationalism is a political understanding and movement which incorporates fundamentalists, traditionalists, anti-modernists, and right wing conservatives. They essentially take approaches different from the modernists and liberal approaches (Bhargava 2003, 11). Under this political movement, a very rigid presence of hierarchical caste is observed. Not necessarily the parties/political movements will be conducted by only high casts Hindus, but the mind set it has is strictly pro-hierarchical caste based.

The political movement is also supported by the cultural movement of Hindu nationalism. All of these movements have its own organization (they will be discussed in the section: Brief history of Hindu nationalism in India) and they work separately but in collaboration. The cultural Hindu nationalism aims to spread the “message” of Hinduism whereas the political movement focuses to keep hold onto power in the Indian politics. Altogether the Hindu nationalistic movement has four components in it, in words of Bhargava (11):

“First, an abiding and pervasive anti-liberalism; second, a repugnance for the socialist left of for anything that is remotely like it; third, a belief in a distinctive and exclusivist variant of nationalism that aims to reinstate a strong, disciplined, and united Hindu nation, the Rashtra; fourth, and above all, a relentless antipathy to Muslims and, to a lesser extent, to Christians – and also to secularists who desire equal citizenship for all Indians.”

This implies, the Hindu nationalism is actually very authoritarian movement which wants to establish a Hindu superiority in India. Along with the Hindu superiority, this movement also denies the importance of advancement in various ways. Rather it focuses more on holding onto the traditions. Hindu nationalism also is not a supporter of an equal society and highly regards excluding the ideas of social and religious equality. These components are demonstrating Hindu nationalism has extensive elements like exclusion, fundamentalism, close minded ness to other religion etc. If these characteristics are parallel to democracy or not, that will be discussed in the section of democracy: Determinants of democracy and Twin Tolerance.

Research Journal # 6

So, here goes my outline with an updated title for the term paper.

New Title: Hindu Nationalism equals or not equals to democracy? Understanding the role of Hindu Nationalism in Democratization in India

Abstract

Introduction

Methodology

Hindu Nationalism and Democracy in India

  • What is Hindu nationalism?
  • A brief history of Hindu nationalism
  • Present context of Hindu nationalism in India

Secularism and Democracy in India

  • Constitutional aspect of Secularism in India

Democracy

  • Determinants of Democracy
  • Twin tolerations and Democracy

Hindu nationalism = or ¹ Democracy in India

Conclusion

Reference

(T)He(y) just really wanted to win! Blog post # 8, 03/20/17

One thing we have learnt from our last week’s reading: “The Dictator’s Handbook” that be it autocratic and democratic leaders, the political leaders want to remain on the power, no matter what. This power is a necessary instrument for them to gain more and this has nothing to do with mouthful phrases like “greater-good-of-the-humanity!” In continuation of that process, this week we have seen, what are the “irregular” ways of staying on power for democratic leaders. Rigging election, with innumerable ways showed by Campbell, Gist and Shapiro, have always played an important role in the USA politics (hard to believe as a non-USA citizen, really hard!). With the examples from mid-to-late 19th century Louisville, Kentucky and Adams County, Ohio it is clear that buying votes in exchange of money or liquor, manipulating voter lists and information, manipulating ballot box, using police force, creating deliberate confusion among voters, using moving railways (I did not clearly understand though how that worked actually), and very recent examples of using voter information from with the advancement of technology for own benefit – everything can contribute to one important thing: election rigging.

All of those strategies can largely be categorized in two areas – fraud that adds to a candidate’s vote total, and fraud that suppresses an opponent’s vote total.  Both of them, at least to some extent, have equally devastating impact on democracy. But I think, from the readings and the experience of my mother land – Bangladesh, the later one is slightly ahead in the game of destroying democracy. I am not sure if this is exactly applicable to the USA’s system as it has a very different one from my country. But in my country, applying the second one can dominate the representation of the opposition in the national parliament very profoundly. If any political party is willing to and somehow finds out a way of suppressing opponent’s total vote count, this can lead to form an absolute majority for the winning party. In political conditions like Bangladesh or India, it has been very uncommon to get an absolute majority in the (national/regional) elections, hence, forming coalition mostly becomes necessary for forming the government. Coalition among parties, from the perspective of South Asia and Bangladesh, is a way on maintaining checks-and-balance for decision making and implementation of those decisions. This can sometimes (only a few times to be more specific) be proven helpful for the mass people as well. Now, going back to election rigging, thus, suppressing opponent’s total vote count can have more harmful effect on democracy than that of increasing one’s total vote count. Well, this can be explained in mathematical equation as well.

However, which country/region/political party will start following what it is not decided over night. But, the socio-political history of the specific place, as Campbell argued in his conclusion, decides and determines what “irregularities” (if any) would be followed for grabbing the power. Hence, I think, the negative effects of election rigging in any ways on democracy can be lessened if previous events are analyzed well and measures taken appropriately.

And just a last one question, does anything like the examples or any modern versions of these take place in present day USA elections? Curious mind wants to know!

“Rules to rule by”_Blog Post # 7, 03/13/17

In the “cynical portrayal of politics” (words from horse’s mouth indeed), Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith in their book “The Dictator’s Handbook” have identified three fundamental rules of politics: 1) No one does politics for benefits of others rather for one’s own interest, 2) There are certain rules to rule by, follow them otherwise you will be nowhere, and 3) You have to have group of people as your supporters. The third rule which they have named as “Selectorate” theory is the one of the most important determining factor for politics as it can make the government a democracy or an authoritarian regime. When the first and the third one intertwined to each other, they give the basic rule for any of the governmental form which is “hold onto power, no matter what.” Basic difference between the democracy and the authoritarian government is that, for remaining on power the later one mostly depends on a close distribution of resources whilst the first one systematically distribute more resources to the larger population.

 

The selectorate theory, in their writing, Masquita and Smith have talked about three group: 1) Nominal selectorate, 2) Real selectorate and 3) the Winning Coalition. Though sometimes the terms were used a bit interchangeably (and a little bit of confusing perhaps only to me), the real selectorate and the winning coalition are the major role player for the government’s power. In autocracies, the rulers are prone to keep a small winning coalition. For them a big winning coalition can create a problematic situation where this demands diffusion of resources among more numbers. Interestingly, having a very small winning coalition can also pose threat to the autocratic leader, hence the autocratic government would like to have a winning coalition of “just-the-right-amount!” On the contrary,systematically democracy are supposed to have larger winning coalition which is for the democracies is a part of the real selectorates. In a democracy, a larger winning coalition can act as an instrument of check-and-balance for the government. Furthermore, distribution of resources to a larger group guarantee (less) corruption which the autocracy cannot afford to have. Thus, it is often very much visible in the democracies, in comparison to the autocracies, that they have better governance and better public services like education, public infrastructures and health care systems. Otherwise, the mass will revolt and can make the government to step down. Just in this way, the autocracies do not have great educational systems, as more educated persons mean larger threat to their power.

 

The interesting learning I got from the interesting write up (though with repetitive examples), whatever strategies the government are choosing are necessarily associated to their needs of remaining on power, not for the “great good of humanity.” Even so, democracy can definitely provide better services for the public in comparison to the authoritarian regimes.