GV338      Half Unit
Politics and Political Economy of India

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Pavithra Suryanarayan


This course is available on the BA in Social Anthropology, BSc in History and Politics, BSc in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, BSc in Politics, BSc in Politics and Data Science, BSc in Politics and Economics, BSc in Politics and International Relations, BSc in Politics and Philosophy and BSc in Social Anthropology. This course is not available as an outside option nor to General Course students.

Course content

India is the world’s largest democracy and its second most populous country. This course introduces core issues in the study of modern Indian politics. The class is organized around the following topics: we trace India's journey to Independence; the consolidation of democracy in the early decades; the relationship between the state and the economy; the state’s institutional architecture; how political parties and electoral campaigns operate; the threats posed by corruption, criminality and dynastic politics; the role of caste and religion in shaping politics; the political and economic consequences of economic liberalization; elections; and the recent rise of right-wing hindutva in the country. The focus is on building knowledge and understanding of the Indian case. But we will also consider to what extent India’s experience is reflective of more general theories of politics, and how they might change because of what India can teach us. Class sessions will be interactive, with plenty of opportunity for group discussion. The reading list is diverse and draws from political science, sociology, history, and anthropology.


20 hours of seminars in the MT.

There will be a reading week in MT Week 6.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 essay in the MT.

The formative assessment comprises one 1000-word response essay written for the week that the students serve as discussant in class.

Indicative reading

1) Washbrook, David. "India, 1818-1860: the two faces of colonialism." The Oxford History of the British Empire 3 (1999).

2) Paul Brass. 1994. The Politics of India since Independence, 1-63

3) Jha, S. (2004). "Representation and Its Epiphanies: A Reading of Constituent Assembly Debates." Economic and Political Weekly: 4357-4360.

4) Mehta, Uday S. 2010. “Indian Constitutionalism: The Social and Political Vision,” in Jayal  and Mehta (eds.) The Oxford Companion to Politics in India


Essay (80%) in the period between MT and LT.
Proposal (20%) in the MT.

The summative assessment will comprise:

1) One proposal and presentation for the final essay – in the last class meeting in MT, each student will give a 5-minute overview of their plan for the final essay to solicit feedback from the class. This will be marked based on how well students articulate the key themes of the paper within an abstract, and how well they use their 5 mins to explain their paper's key ideas. The teacher will use this as a way to also give students feedback on the scope of the proposed paper and whether it fits within the goals of the class.

2) One 3000-word final essay at the end of MT, based on a topic on India.

Key facts

Department: Government

Total students 2021/22: Unavailable

Average class size 2021/22: Unavailable

Capped 2021/22: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Communication