The Political Theory Workshop Presents Natasha Behl


India’s Farmers’ Protest: An Inclusive Vision of Indian Democracy

Natasha Behl, Arizona State University
with commentary by San Lee, Political Science, UConn
March 21, 2022 from 12:15–1:30pm, Oak 408 and Zoom

India, the world’s largest democracy, has been experiencing a democratic decline. Since coming to power in 2014 and winning reelection in 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party have become increasingly illiberal and authoritarian. The rule of law has deteriorated, rights and liberties have been curtailed, and scholars and the media have been silenced. If electoral constraint, constitutional design, judicial independence, and a free press haven’t slowed India’s march toward illiberalism, what can? In November 2020, India’s farmers began a highly organized protest against the government. How has this protest protected Indian democracy from further degradation? Has it radically altered India’s political future? The farmers’ protest provides an alternative vision of democracy, one rooted in radical egalitarianism. Protesting farmers have actualized the spirit of dissent enshrined in the Indian constitution by holding the current government accountable to it.

Natasha Behl is associate professor in the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Arizona State University (ASU). Her book, Gendered Citizenship: Understanding Gendered Violence in Democratic India, was published with Oxford University Press and received the American Political Science Association’s 2021 Lee Ann Fujii Award for Innovation in the Interpretive Study of Political Violence. Her research has been published in the American Political Science Review, PS: Political Science and Politics, Feminist Formations, and Politics, Groups, and Identities. At ASU, she was awarded the Outstanding Teaching Award, the Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award, ASU’s Excellence in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Award and Social Impact Award. She has written for The Washington Post and Economic & Political Weekly and given a TEDx Talk

With generous support from the UConn Humanities Institute, Africana Studies, Anthropology, El Instituto, OVPR, Philosophy, POLS, and Sociology.

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