How Brahmin Elite Shaped Indian Democracy, the Popularity of Right‑Wing Political Parties, and More With Dr. Pavithra Suryanarayan

Apr 10, 2023


In this episode, political scientist Dr. Pavithra Suryanarayan talks to us about understanding how the Brahmin elite ‘hollowed out’ state capacity in colonial India, and why Indians vote to protect status interests.

‘In Perspective’ is The Swaddle’s podcast series where academics reveal little-known facts about Indian history, society and culture. 


00:00:53:03- What is ‘state capacity?’ What does it mean to hollow out state capacity? 

00:05:33:02- How did the Brahmin elite hollow out the bureaucracy in the Bombay and Madras Presidencies at the time the Indian state was being democratised?  

00:10:48:07- How does this play out in India even today?

00:13:26:14- What makes right-wing political parties popular among the poor?

00:18:21:16- What role does people’s income play in voter turnout in India?

00:19:54:23- Why are caste and class so relevant when it comes to voting and politics in India?

00:22:53:17- Why does India see a huge proliferation of various political parties across states? 

00:27:55:02- In the recent 2021 West Bengal elections, almost all news sites’ pre-poll data predicted that the BJP would win, which turned out to be wrong when the All India Trinamool Congress won by a landslide. Where does the mismatch between voters’ attitudes and perceptions of the media come from?


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