1st Edition

Routledge Handbook of Autocratization in South Asia

Edited By Sten Widmalm Copyright 2022
    398 Pages 16 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This handbook offers a comprehensive analysis of the processes and actors contributing to autocratization in South Asia. It provides an enhanced understanding of the interconnectedness of the different states in the region, and how that may be related to autocratization.

    The book analyzes issues of state power, the support for political parties, questions relating to economic actors and sustainable economic development, the role of civil society, questions of equality and political culture, political mobilization, the role of education and the media, as well as topical issues such as the Covid pandemic, environmental issues, migration, and military and international security. Structured in five sections, contributions by international experts describe and explain outcomes at the national level in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. The final section analyzes conditions for democracy and autocratization and how they are affected by the interplay of political forces at the international level in this region.

    • India – building an ethnic state?
    • Pakistan – the decline of civil liberties
    • Bangladesh – towards one-party rule
    • Sri Lanka – the resilience of the ethnic state
    • How to comprehend autocratization in South Asia – three broad perspectives

    This innovative handbook is the first to describe and to explain ongoing trends of autocratization in South Asia, demonstrating that drivers of political change also work across boundaries. It is an important reference work for students and researchers of South Asian Studies, Asian Studies, Area Studies and Political Science. 

    The Open Access version of this book, available at http://www.taylorfrancis.com, has been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 4.0 license.

    Introduction – Autocratization in South Asia

    1. Autocratization in South Asia, Sandra Grahn, Staffan I. Lindberg and Sten Widmalm

    Part 1 India – Building an ethnic state?

    2. Neo-Authoritarianism in India under Narendra Modi: Growing Force or Critical Discourse?, Devin K. Joshi

    3. Prefiguring Alternatives to Autocratization: Democratic Dissent in Contemporary India, Amrita Basu

    4. Autocratization in Kashmir, Šumit Ganguly

    5. Re-positing Gender in the New Nationalist Paradigm, Dinoo Anna Mathew

    6. Autocratic environmental governance in India, Anwesha Dutta and Kenneth Bo Nielsen

    7. Living Dangerously: The Heartland Heralds the New Communal-Authoritarian Model of Indian Democracy, Zoya Hasan

    8. Hindu Nationalist Statecraft and Modi’s Authoritarian Populism, Kenneth Bo Nielsen and Alf Gunvald Nilsen

    9. India’s inexorable path to autocratization: Looking beyond Modi and the populist lens, Soundarya Chidambaram

    10. The Social Roots of the Authoritarian Turn in India, Patrick Heller

    11. From Hindu Rashtra to Hindu Raj? A de facto or a de jure Ethnic Democracy?, Christophe Jaffrelot

    Part 2 Pakistan – The decline of civil liberties

    12. Pakistan’s Hybrid Regime: Growing Democratization, or Increased Authoritarianism?, Ian Talbot

    13. Religious clientelism and democratic choice: Clients of God, Aiysha Varraich

    14. Digital Autocratization of Pakistan, Rizvan Saeed

    15. A Supreme Court or a Constitutional Jirga?, Moeen Chema

    16. Autocratization and Religious Minorities in Pakistan, Ahmad Salim and Rizvan Saeed

    17. CPEC, Governance, and China’s Belt and Road in South Asia: The Path of Most Resistance?, Marc Lanteigne 

    Part 3 Bangladesh – Towards one-party rule

    18. Bangladesh: In Pursuit of a One-Party State?, Ali Riaz

    19. The Decline of Democratic Governance: Protests at the Phulbari and Rampal Coal Mine, Shelley Feldman

    20. Disaster governance and autocratic legitimation in Bangladesh: Aiding autocratization?, Maren Aase

    21. Islamist extremism in Bangladesh: A pretext for autocratization, Asheque Haque

    22. Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh: The making of a strongman regime, Arild Engelsen Ruud

    23. Local Government Institutions under Authoritarian Rule in Bangladesh, Serdar Yilmaz and Syed Khaled Ahsan

    Part 4 Sri Lanka – The resilience of the ethnic state

    24. Ethnoreligious Nationalism and Autocratization in Sri Lanka, Neil DeVotta

    25. Autocratization, Buddhist nationalist extremism and the Muslim minority in Sri Lanka, Farah Mihlar

    26. Global Worker Protests and Tools of Autocratization in Sri Lanka: Rendering them Silent, Sandya Hewamanne

    27. Militarization and impunity in Sri Lanka, Øivind Fuglerud

    Part 5 How to comprehend autocratization in South Asia – Three broad perspectives

    28. Autocratization and regime convergence in South Asia – An undetermined path, Sten Widmalm

    29. Gravitational pull of authoritarian China in South Asia?, Johan Lagerkvist

    30. Autocratization as an Ideological Project: Carl Schmitt's Anti-Liberalism in South Asia, David G. Lewis


    Sten Widmalm is Professor in Political Science at the Department of Government, Uppsala University, Sweden. He has carried out extensive research on crisis management, political tolerance, democracy and conflicts in a global comparative perspective. His recent publications include Political Tolerance in the Global South – Images from India, Pakistan and Uganda (Routledge, 2016).

    The essays of this handbook dissect the trends towards creeping authoritarianism in South Asia. Even India, long a poster boy of ‘third world’ democracy, appears to be catching up with its neighbours in a ‘non-democratic regime convergence’. However, instead of merely confirming Huntington’s deterministic pessimism regarding non-western democracy, or jumping on to wide-eyed bushy tailed advocacy, authors of this important volume follow a third trajectory, based on fine grained empirical analysis and empathy with their subject, within a comparative framework. This handbook should become an indispensable tool for the people of South Asia, as well as for outsiders, looking in. Subrata Mitra, Emeritus Professor of Political Science at Heidelberg University and Adjunct Professor, Dublin City University, Ireland.

    Situating South Asia’s democratic trends in a broad historical context, this wide-ranging volume addresses a crucial, timely and policy-relevant question: why is democracy faltering in the world’s most populous region? While authoritarianism was the twentieth century’s historical norm, recent democratic improvements have faltered and even reversed. Assembling the best regional experts, this book exposes the proximate cause of regional democratic backsliding — leaders invoking cultural identities to legitimate non-democratic behaviour — while underscoring its deeper and more enduring institutional roots. It will serve as indispensable reading for regional experts, democracy watchers and policymakers alike. Maya Tudor, Associate Professor, Blavatnik School of Government, Fellow, St. Hilda's College, Oxford University, UK.

    Studies of democratic decline in South Asia tend to focus on just one country. This excellent and timely volume brings together leading scholars of Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan and Bangladeshi politics and society to explore, across a range of issues, what’s similar and what’s different about recent democratic weakening in the region. Indispensable. Steven I. Wilkinson, Henry R. Luce Director, MacMillan Center, Nilekani Professor of India and South Asian Studies, Department of Political Science, Yale University, USA.