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Penn School of Arts and Sciences Monday, February 14, 2022

Federalism and Bureaucracy: The Original Design vs. a Culture of Centralization

Yamini Aiyar
February 14, 2022

In the latest issue of India in Transition, Yamini Aiyar (President and Chief Executive, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi) examines the role of bureaucracy in India, its original design, its hierarchy, and its dynamic relationship with politics to argue that centralization has deep roots within the bureaucratic culture which, in turn, aids and abets political centralization.

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This is the final article in this guest-edited IiT short series. The articles in this series seek to make sense of the many manifestations of political and economic centralization in India today, with a particular focus on the historical antecedents of India’s federal institutions and how greater centralization in these institutions is altering state-business relations, India’s welfare architecture, as well as electoral competition. In 2019, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) returned to power with a thumping victory, winning 303 out of the 543 seats in the Lok Sabha. This marked the first time since 1984 that a single party won a majority of seats in back-to-back national elections, and the first time a party other than the Congress Party achieved this feat. This massive electoral mandate given to the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi has evidently ushered in a period of nearly unprecedented political and economic centralization. Recent months have seen a rapidly deteriorating relationship between the Centre and many states in India, so much so that Louise Tillin has referred to the current situation as “a defining moment for the future of Indian federalism.” (Guest Editor: Neelanjan Sircar, CASI Fall 2021 Visiting Scholar; Senior Fellow, Centre for Policy Research)

IiT articles are now being re-published in Scroll.in!

Centre vs States: Exploring the Historical Roots of India’s Distinctive Form of Federalism
Louise Tillin, January 4, 2022

Public Banks are Being Marginalised in the Lending Arena by New-Age Financial Power Brokers
Rohit Chandra, January 20, 2022

From Modi to Mamata, How Did Indian Politics Become so Dependent on the Cult of Personality?
Neelanjan Sircar, February 3, 2022

CASI in the News

CASI Postdoctoral Research Fellow Naveen Bharathi co-authored (along with Deepak Malghan, Sumit Mishra, and Andaleeb Rahman) "Residential Segregation and Public Services in Urban India" in the February 8, 2022 issue of Urban Studies.

Ambassador Shyam Saran to Deliver Upcoming CASI-Khemka Lecture

On February 24, 2022 at 10:00 a.m. EST | 8:30 p.m. IST, Ambassador Shyam Saran (26th Foreign Secretary of India) will deliver a virtual CASI-Nand & Jeet Khemka Distinguished Lecture titled "Overlapping Peripheries: How Will India and China Navigate the Asian Century?" The lecture, moderated by discussant Ashley J. Tellis (Tata Chair for Strategic Affairs & Senior Fellow Carnegie Endowment for International Peace), is in partnership with the Andrea Mitchell Center, Center for the Study of Contemporary China, and Perry World House. [Register]

CASI Student Programs

Applications for CASI's 2022 Summer Research Funds are NOW OPEN! CASI will provide up to $4,000 to Penn undergraduate students and $5,000 to Penn graduate students for independent research projects related to contemporary India. We strongly encourage applications from undergraduate students working on senior theses and graduate students conducting and analyzing fieldwork for their capstone projects or dissertations. Deadline: Sunday, April 3, 2022 at 11:59pm EST

Subscribe to the CASI Student Programs Blog and read about students' experiences in India!

Questions about CASI Student Programs?
Please contact Laura Iwanyk, Assistant Director, CASI Student Programs and Outreach, liwanyk@upenn.edu

2021-22 CASI Virtual Seminar Series

February 17, 2022, 12 noon EST | 10:30pm IST via Zoom

"Why Do Poor Voters Choose a Pro-Rich Party in India?"

CASI / South Asia Center / Dept. of South Asian Studies Book Talk with Christophe Jaffrelot (CERI at Sciences Po; King's India Institute; CNRS)

February 24, 2022, 10:00am EST | 8:30pm IST via Webinar

"Overlapping Peripheries: How Will India and China Navigate the Asian Century?"

CASI Nand & Jeet Khemka Distinguished Lecture with Ambassador Shyam Saran (26th Foreign Secretary of India)
in partnership with the Andrea Mitchell Center for the Study of Democracy, Center for the Study of Contemporary China, and Perry World House

February 25, 2022, 9:30am-6:30pm EST | 8:00pm - 5:00am IST

"Migration: Points of Entry, Points of Departure"

The Wolf Humanities Center’s 2021–22 Forum on Migration welcomes a group of scholars, artists, and activists as they discuss the experiences of refugees and immigrants while considering the past, present, and future of migration.
(Co-sponsored by the Mitchell Center, Annenberg School of Communications, Departments of Anthropology, History, and South Asia Studies, CASI, South Asia Center, and Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts)

REGISTER for CASI Spring 2022 Events

Event Videos:

February 10, 2022: CASI Seminar "Privileging One's Own? Voting Patterns and Politicized Spending in India" with Francesca R. Jensenius (University of Oslo; Norwegian Institute of International Affairs) FULL VIDEO

February 3, 2022: CASI Seminar "Government of or by Apps? Mobile Infrastructures in 'Digital' India" with Nafis Aziz Hasan (CASI) FULL VIDEO


VIEW VIDEOS of more CASI past events—Transcripts, English captions, Hindi subtitles available on select events

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