The search for democracy in the world's largest democracy

Hosted by the International Inequalities Institute, LSE Human Rights, Department of Anthropology and Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity

In-person and online public event (Auditorium, Centre Building)


Professor Alpa Shah

Professor Alpa Shah

Professor Christophe Jaffrelot

Professor Christophe Jaffrelot


Professor Tarun Khaitan

Professor Tarun Khaitan


Priyanka Kotamraju

Priyanka Kotamraju



Professor Deborah James

Professor Deborah James

Join us to launch and discuss Alpa Shah’s new book, The Incarcerations: BK-16 and the search for democracy in India.

As general elections fast approach in the world’s largest democracy, this event asks what democracy today must urgently ensure for our common future. In her latest book, Alpa Shah pulls back the curtain on Indian democracy to tell the remarkable and chilling story of the Bhima Koregaon case, in which 16 human rights defenders (the BK-16) – professors, lawyers, artists – have been imprisoned, without credible evidence and without trial, as Maoist terrorists. The BK-16 were accused of inciting violence and plotting to kill the Indian prime minister. But Professor Shah finds a shocking case of cyber warfare - hacked emails, mobile phones and implantation of electronic evidence used to make the arrests. Diving deep into the lives of the BK-16, The Incarcerations shows how the case is a bellwether for the collapse of democracy and why these events matter to all of us.

Meet our speakers and chair

Alpa Shah (@alpashah001) is Professor of Anthropology at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Her last book, Nightmarch, was finalist Orwell Prize for Political Writing, New Statesman Book of the Year, finalist New India Foundation Book Prize, longlisted Tata Literature Live Non-Fiction Award, winner Association for Political and Legal Anthropology Book Prize.

Christophe Jaffrelot is Avantha Chair and Professor of Indian Politics and Sociology at the King's India Institute and also the Research Lead for the Global Institutes, King’s College London. He teaches South Asian politics and history at Sciences Po, Paris and is an Overseas Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He was Director of Centre d’Etudes et de Recherches Internationales (CERI) at Sciences Po, between 2000 and 2008.

Tarun Khaitan joined LSE as Professor (Chair) in Public Law in 2023. Previously, he was the Professor of Public Law & Legal Theory at Oxford and the Head of Research at the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights, Oxford.

Priyanka Kotamraju is an Atlantic Fellow for Social and Economic Equity and an independent journalist from India, with nearly a decade of experience in the media industry focused on issues of social justice, gender, and inequality. She is also a PhD Candidate in Sociology and a Gates Cambridge Scholar at the University of Cambridge and a co-author of The Murderer, The Monarch and The Fakir: a new investigation of Mahatma Gandhi's assassination.

Deborah James is Professor in the Department of Anthropology at LSE and a Faculty Associate at the International Inequalities Institute. She is a specialist in the anthropology of South and Southern Africa.

More about this event

This event will be available to watch on LSE Live. LSE Live is the new home for our live streams, allowing you to tune in and join the global debate at LSE, wherever you are in the world. If you can't attend live, a video will be made available shortly afterwards on LSE's YouTube channel.

The International Inequalities Institute (@LSEInequalities) brings together experts from many of the School's departments and centres to lead cutting-edge research focused on understanding why inequalities are escalating in numerous arenas across the world, and to develop critical tools to address these challenges.

LSE Human Rights (@LSEHumanRights) is a trans-disciplinary centre of excellence for international academic research, teaching and critical scholarship on human rights.

The Department of Anthropology (@LSEAnthropology) is world famous and world leading. Our work is based on ethnographic research: detailed studies of societies and communities in which we have immersed ourselves via long term fieldwork. Placing the everyday lives and meanings of ordinary people - whoever and wherever they are - at the heart of the discipline, we take nothing for granted.

The Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity programme (@AFSEE_LSE) is a Global South-focused, funded fellowship for mid-career activists, policy-makers, researchers and movement-builders from around the world. Based at the International Inequalities Institute, it is a 20-year programme that commenced in 2017 and was funded with a £64m gift from Atlantic Philanthropies, LSE’s largest ever philanthropic donation.

Twitter Hashtag for this event: #LSEIndia

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