US-based political scientist Ashutosh Varshney, who is on a visit to the city said the Bharatiya Janata Party and its leader, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, “could not afford to be communal” despite enjoying a majority in the Lok Sabha, adding “neither the party’s internal politics nor the international community would allow them to do so”. He was talking to reporters on Friday on the sidelines of Panjab University’s first colloquium lecture held on the campus in the new academic year.
“There is growing unease among Muslims after Modi took over as the country’s leader. There is no denying the fact that he would like to leave behind the scars of the Godhra riots, allay fears of the minority community and portray himself as someone who takes along all sections of society,” Varshney said when asked about his views on the parliamentary elections held this year.
Varshey, who is Sol Goldman professor of international studies & social sciences at Brown University, Rhode Island, said higher growth was needed to fund programmes like NREGA and the Right to Food Act and termed corruption in India as part of the process of any country undergoing the transition from a poverty ridden economy to an industrial one.
Later, talking about Indian democracy, he observed the country was the “longest surviving low-income democracy in history.”
“Contemporary democratic theory believes democracies can be established at low levels of income, but they can survive only at high income levels. However, India is an exception,” he noted.
Referring to the study conducted by Adam Przeworski et al covering data from 141 countries between 1950 and 1990, Varshney said income was the best predictor of democracy. “It had correctly predicted the type of regime in 77.5% of the cases; only in 22.5% it could not”, he added.
“Institutionalising elections, primacy of the constitution and minority rights were the other keys of post-independence democratic consolidation, while the Supreme Court, the election commission and political parties were the post-Nehru democratic mainstays,” Varshey said .
PU vice chancellor Arun Kumar Grover presided over the colloquium and a large number of teachers, researchers and students attended the public lecture.