Programme Details


Date: Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Time: 9:00 AM–5:30 PM

Venue: The Taj Mahal Hotel, Mansingh Road, New Delhi

Conclave Chair:

Ashutosh Varshney: Professor of Political Science and Director of the Center for Contemporary South Asia, Brown University, USA.

Conclave Co-chair:

Pradeep K. Chhibber: Professor of Political Science and Director of the Institute of International Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, USA.


Ashutosh Varshney

Topic 1:

Ideology and Identity: The Changing Party Systems of India

This book challenges the view that party politics in India is basically about patronage, and claims that ideas and ideologies actually play a central role. India's most important ideological debates center on (i) statism or the extent to which the state should dominate society, regulate social norms, and redistribute private property and (ii) on recognition, or whether and how the state should accommodate the needs of various marginalized groups and protect minority rights from assertive majoritarian tendencies. Indian electoral politics, as represented by political parties, party members, and voters taking distinct positions on statism and recognition.


Ashutosh Varshney (Professor, Brown University)


  • Neelanjan Sircar (Fellow, CPR) 
  • Pradeep Chhibber (Professor, Berkeley) 
  • Jairam Ramesh (Member of Parliament, Rajyasabha) 
  • Kanchan Chandra (Professor, NYU, Abu Dhabi)

Topic 2:

The Absent Dialogue: Civil-Military Relations in India

The success of India's democracy has been widely hailed especially for its firm civilian control over the military. However, this has come at a price. This book argues that while India has successfully maintained civilian control but it has paid a price in terms of military effectiveness. India's civil-military relations can be imagined as one of strong domains differentiating the civil and the military. Worryingly, there is little substantive dialogue between civilians and military officers and this is problematic from the perspective of military effectiveness.


Sushant Singh (Associate Editor, The Indian Express)


  • Srinath Raghavan (Sr. Fellow, CPR)
  • Anit Mukherjee (Assistant Professor, Nanyang Technological University)
  • Colonel (Retd) Ajai Shukla (Consulting Editor, Strategic Affairs, Business Standard)
  • General (Retd) Ved Prakash Malik (Former Chief of the Army Staff of India)

Topic 3:

State of Healthcare in India

Despite India being one of the fastest growing countries in the world, it has been debated that the same progress has not been extended to its public health sector. In contrast to developed countries such as the United States, where health policies hold significance in electoral politics, healthcare in India is not a constituent concern, leading to an abysmally low government investment in the sector. However, funding is not the only issue. There are issues of corruption, ethics, and accountability among others. India ranked 154 out of 195 countries regarding health care access, far behind other South Asian nations as well as Ghana and Liberia, according to the Global Burden of Disease study, published in The Lancet. Irrespective, the healthcare sector in India, facilitated by privatisation, remains one of the largest sectors in terms of both employment and revenue generation. The NSS survey over the last two decades indicates that an asymmetric distributive network has been created and disproportionately disseminated in private and public health sector. This leaves almost a negligible space for the government facilities to flourish or for the poor to access the best, or even, decent medical facilities.


Amrita Tripathi (Author & Founder-Editor, The Health Collective)


  • Amir Ullah Khan (Former head of strategy, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation)
  • Leena Menghaney (Head, South Asia, Médecins Sans Frontières)
  • Aparna Jaswal (Fortis Hospital)
  • Subhadra Menon (Executive Director, Research, The Kailash Satyarthi Foundation)

Topic 4:

Costs of Democracy: Political Finance in India

If it impossible to conceive of democracies without elections, why is it impossible to imagine elections without the flood of money in politics? How does every general election in India get more expensive than the last one? Stepping into the mucky terrain to find out what enables the average Indian vote to have a price, Costs of Democracy opens readers' eyes to the opaque and enigmatic ways in which money flows through the political heart of the world's largest democracy.


Siddharth Varadarajan (Founding Editor, The Wire)


  • Rajeev Gowda (Member of Parliament, Rajyasabha, Karnataka)
  • Devesh Kapur (Director, Center for the Advanced Study of India, University of Pennsylvania)
  • G. Sampath (Social Affairs Editor, The Hindu)
  • S.Y. Quraishi (Former CEC of India)

Topic 5:

Business and Politics in India

Over the last few decades, politics in India has moved steadily in a pro-business direction. Unlike in many other developing or communist countries, this important shift in India has been incremental; it has come about within the frame of democracy and without any dramatic regime change. The pro-business shift in India has important implications for both how the world's largest democracy is governed and for the life-chances of the citizens of that democracy. This volume seeks to analyze the growing power of business groups in the Indian polity and the consequences of this process on key issue areas. 


Shekhar Gupta (Chairman, ThePrint)


  • Kanta Murali (Asst. Professor, University of Toronto)
  • Vivek Dehejia (Professor of Economics, Carleton University, Canada)
  • T.N. Ninan (Chairman, Business Standard)
  • Jayant Sinha (Minister of State for Civil Aviation, Government of India)

Concluding Remarks:

Ashutosh Varshney