The End of the Electoral Bond Era
Grand Tamasha
by Leah Verghese, Milan Vaishnav
2d ago
Two weeks ago, a five-judge bench of India’s Supreme Court ruled that electoral bonds—a controversial instrument of political giving introduced by the Narendra Modi government—violated the Constitution and would immediately cease operating. Under the court’s ruling, the State Bank of India will immediately stop issuing bonds; the Election Commission of India must disclose details of all transactions since April 2019; and any bonds which have not yet been encashed are to be refunded. On this week’s podcast, Grand Tamasha host Milan Vaishnav—who has written extensively about campaign finance in ..read more
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A Fresh Look at India’s Neighborhood First Policy
Grand Tamasha
by Constantino Xavier, Milan Vaishnav
1w ago
With general elections just months away, it is the era of the ten-year retrospective—a chance for India watchers to reflect on what has changed over the past decade under the Narendra Modi government—and what has not. One area especially deserving of scrutiny is India’s relations with the neighborhood. The Modi government came to power with an eye towards reimagining India’s relationships in South Asia, and across the Indo-Pacific. Yet, the past ten years have seen tremendous upheaval in the region--set against a backdrop of growing competition between India and China to gain the upper hand. F ..read more
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Pakistan's Political Earthquake
Grand Tamasha
by Zoha Waseem, Milan Vaishnav
2w ago
Last Thursday, voters in Pakistan went to the polls in the country’s first general elections since the July 2018 election that brought former prime minister Imran Khan to power. In 2022, Khan was ousted in an unprecedented no confidence vote and now finds himself behind bars. In the months before the election, Khan’s political party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), was repressed with party members jailed, harassed, and eventually forced to contest the 2024 elections as independents. Pakistan’s powerful military was widely seen as the guiding force behind these moves. But the election results a ..read more
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Separating Fact From Fiction
Grand Tamasha
by Mariyam Alavi, Supriya Sharma, Milan Vaishnav
3w ago
From the Obama “birther” movement in the United States to the fringe politicians who believe congestion pricing in London is part of an international “socialist plot,” it is no exaggeration to say that conspiracy theories have become part of the standard political playbook the world over. But when it comes to outlandish conspiracy theories, India stands out as a country where such tales are driving everyday political conversations in a major way. Buoyed by politicians, the media, and social media forwards, they have come to be accepted as reality by many people. A new book, Love Jihad and Othe ..read more
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India and the Emerging Chip Race
Grand Tamasha
by Pranay Kotasthane, Milan Vaishnav
1M ago
It seems like you cannot open a newspaper, listen to a foreign policy podcast, or open Twitter/X without somebody somewhere sounding off on the emerging geopolitical battle over semiconductors. Semiconductors, which we colloquially refer to as chips, have quickly moved from the periphery to center-stage of global high politics. To discuss this high-stakes race, and India’s role in it, Milan is joined on the show this week by the scholar Pranay Kotasthane. Pranay is Chair of High-Tech Geopolitics at the Takshashila Institution in Bangalore and, with Abhiram Manchi, is the author of the new book ..read more
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Governing India's Digital Revolution
Grand Tamasha
by Rahul Matthan, Milan Vaishnav
1M ago
This week, Grand Tamasha kicks off its eleventh season with a special return guest to the podcast. The Third Way: India’s Revolutionary Approach to Data Governance is an important new book by the lawyer-scholar-and-author Rahul Matthan. Rahul is a partner at the law firm Trilegal, where he heads their technology practice. Over the past several years, he has worked closely with the Government of India, most recently as DPI advisor to the Ministry of Finance during India’s G20 presidency. Rahul joins Milan on the show this week to discuss India’s unique approach to building digital public infras ..read more
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The Indian Supreme Court in the Modi Era
Grand Tamasha
by Gautam Bhatia, Milan Vaishnav
2M ago
Over the past decade, India has witnessed significant conflict within—and around—several democratic institutions meant to act as a check on executive power. One of the most important theatres of conflict has been the judiciary—more specifically, the Supreme Court. A new book by the legal scholar Gautam Bhatia, Unsealed Covers: A Decade of the Constitution, the Courts and the State, takes readers through some of the most controversial cases that have come before the court during this critical decade. Gautam is a lawyer who has been personally involved in several important contemporary constitut ..read more
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What the 2023 State Elections Tell Us About 2024
Grand Tamasha
by Milan Vaishnav, Dipankar Ghose, Sunetra Choudhury
3M ago
On December 3, votes were finally tallied in four Indian states which went for elections this past month—the last test parties and candidates will face before the general elections in April-May of next year.  After much anticipation, Counting Day left very little to the imagination. In a big setback for the Congress Party and the opposition alliance more broadly, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won decisive elections in three big Hindi belt states—Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan. The lone Congress Party victory came in the southern state of Telangana, where it displaced the o ..read more
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Tackling India’s Air Pollution Crisis
Grand Tamasha
by Anant Sudarshan, Milan Vaishnav
3M ago
Anyone who has even casually glanced at the news over the past several weeks would be hard pressed to miss the plethora of headlines about north India’s air pollution crisis. Every year as late Fall rolls around, air pollution across north India—including in the nation’s capital of Delhi—climbs to levels that make life almost unlivable for hundreds of millions of residents. As bad as the crisis is, the situation is not helpless. Milan’s guest on the show this week, the economist Anant Sudarshan, has spent years trying to evaluate solutions to what seems like an intractable problem. Anant is an ..read more
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The Downfall of India's Princely States
Grand Tamasha
by John Zubrzycki, Milan Vaishnav
3M ago
One of the most remarkable episodes in modern Indian history is the story of how the leaders of over 550 sovereign princely states were convinced that they should give up their independence to become a part of a free India. This monumental task of accession was carried out over weeks, not months or years. But accession was just the first step in an ongoing drama between India’s princes and the rulers of the Indian republic, a drama that would unfold over the next many decades. A new book, Dethroned: Patel, Menon and the Integration of Princely India, captures this incredible story in almost ci ..read more
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