GV4H2      Half Unit
Contemporary India: The World's Largest Democracy in the Early 21st Century

This information is for the 2013/14 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Sumantra Bose


This course is available on the MSc in Comparative Politics and MSc in Global Politics. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Priority will be given to students taking the MSc Comparative Politics and the MSc Global Politics. Students on other Master's programmes, in all Departments of the School, are welcome to apply to take the course and will be considered subject to availability of space.This course is capped at 30 students (two seminar groups). The deadline for applying online to take the course is Friday 11 October 2013.

Course content

This course provides an advanced introduction to contemporary India, the world's most populous and diverse democracy. After the first week's overview, six weeks cover the evolution of India's democracy since its founding after national independence in 1947--with a strong emphasis on political changes and transitions underway since the 1990s--and discuss current political problems and challenges. Topics include the replacement of a single-party-dominant democracy by a robust multiparty democracy, and the replacement of a relatively centralized union by a de-centred, federal democracy increasingly dominated by 'regional' parties and leaders based in one of the twenty-eight states which comprise the union. Students will learn about the great political diversity of India through comparison of the different political contexts and dynamics of several large states. Two current political dilemmas - the revolutionary Maoist insurgency in some parts of the country and the festering problem of Kashmir – are surveyed. The final three weeks explore the nature of India's growing role in the international politics of the early 21st century, focused on three key and inter-connected relationships: China-India, United States-India, and Pakistan-India. In evaluating each of these relationships, comparisons are made between the political and economic challenges faced by India and those faced by the polities of China, the United States, and Pakistan.


15 hours of lectures and 10 hours of seminars in the LT.

Indicative reading

Sumantra Bose, Transforming India: Challenges to the World's Largest Democracy (2013); Jean Dreze and Amartya Sen, An Uncertain Glory (2013); Ramachandra Guha, India after Gandhi (2007); Atul Kohli (ed.), The Success of India's Democracy (2001); Christophe Jaffrelot, India's Silent Revolution (2003); Paul R. Brass, The Politics of India since Independence (1994); Stuart Corbridge and John Harriss, Reinventing India (2000); Stephen P. Cohen, India, Emerging Power (2002); Teresita C. Schaffer, India and the United States in the 21st Century (2009); Pranab Bardhan, Awakening Giants, Feet of Clay: Assessing the Economic Rise of China and India (2010).


Essay (100%, 5000 words) in the ST.

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2012/13: Unavailable

Average class size 2012/13: Unavailable

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Problem solving
  • Communication