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Is a New Jim Crow Emerging in India? Ashutosh Varshney Gives a Warning

Rephrase my Ashutosh Varshney is the Sol Goldman Professor of International Studies and the Social Sciences at Brown University. He is the author of many books and papers on India and its politics. His most recent article (coauthored with Connor Staggs), published in Journal of Democracy, is “Hindu Nationalism and the New Jim Crow.”

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That’s the point here. It’s not there yet. But if electorally the BJP keeps winning, this is a prospect that must be faced.
Ashutosh Varshney

Key Highlights

Introduction – 1:31
Hindu Nationalism – 3:48
Jim Crow and India – 12:08
Vigilantism – 23:53
Solutions – 34:46

Podcast Transcript
Jim Crow is among the most disturbing legacies of the United States. It segregated Americans on the basis of race and used the law alongside social norms to impose an extreme form of social control upon the black population. What makes Jim Crow challenging to comprehend is it represents an illiberal authoritarian method of governance within otherwise democratic institutions and traditions. It’s easier for us to imagine authoritarianism under a dictatorship. It’s harder to explain how it happens in a republic.
Ashutosh Varshney warns India is on the verge of repeating the same mistakes America made during this period. He recently cowrote a paper with Connor Staggs called “Hindu Nationalism and the New Jim Crow.” It is in the new edition of the Journal of Democracy that just came out today. Ashutosh is the Sol Goldman Professor of International Studies and the Social Sciences at Brown University. He has written widely about politics in India and warned about the rise of Hindu Nationalism.
Our conversation discusses the parallels between Jim Crow in the American South and recent events in parts of India. We also discuss how those parallels diverge and what might be done to reverse them.
Now I want to introduce the Kellogg Institute for International Studies, part of the Keough School of Global Affairs at the University of Notre Dame, as a sponsor of the podcast. The Kellogg Institute was founded by Guillermo O’Donnell, one of the giants of democratic thought, more than 40 years ago. It continues to sponsor research on democracy and human development. Check them out at You’ll find a link in the show notes to their website. If you’re interested in becoming a sponsor of the podcast, please send me an email to But for now… This is my conversation with Ashutosh Varshney…

Ashutosh Varshney, welcome back to the Democracy Paradox.

Ashutosh Varshney

Wonderful to be with you again, Justin.


Well, Ashu, I really loved this article. It’s called “Hindu Nationalism and the New Jim Crow.” It just came out today in the new issue of the Journal of Democracy. It’s one of for better SEO. 

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