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India in Transition

CASI Election Conversations 2024: Yamini Aiyar on the BJP’s “Techno-Patrimonial” Welfare Model

Yamini Aiyar & Rohan Venkat
April 15, 2024

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s success over the last decade of Indian politics—and its frontrunner status in this year's Parliamentary elections—has often been ascribed to its welfare policies. How does this "new welfarism" differ from the rights-based approach that preceded it? Where do technological mechanisms, from Aadhaar to cash transfers, fit into this model? And how does the political narrative underpinning this shift attempt to reimagine Indian democracy? 

In the second interview of our new series, CASI Election Conversations 2024, CASI Consulting Editor Rohan Venkat speaks to Yamini Aiyar, public policy scholar and former president of the Centre for Policy Research, about what she has dubbed the "techno-patrimonial state" and the creation of a new "labharthi varg," or beneficiary class that can be politically mobilized.


Rohan: Could you tell me a little bit about the questions you asked in setting out to examine India’s new welfarism?

Yamini: The questions I asked trace themselves back into my own career trajectory, which, by some coincidence, began in the early 2000s when India had begun to embark on a somewhat ambitious effort at building out a welfare state. That effort that emerged, largely out of a constellation of social movements, organized civil society, the judiciary and elite politics of the time coming together to build what we have since called the rights-based welfare architecture, starting with the Right to Information and the National Rural Employment Guarantee (MGNREGA), the Right to Work, the Right to Education, and the National Food Security Act in 2013. I cut my teeth working closely with social movements, studying the unfolding of the rights, particularly the effort largely led by social movements, to draw on the grammar of rights to pry open spaces for citizens to participate in direct claim-making.

Why are these rights? In those early days, the question that had puzzled me—which is where my explorations with the rights-based movements began—was around why we needed to articulate welfare in this framework of socioeconomic rights. If you looked across Western Europe, many robust welfare states have emerged through progressive redistributive, social policy without articulating this within the framework of socioeconomic rights. India was clearly doing something different, and I wanted to better understand what that difference was. What does it mean to build out a rights-based welfare state as opposed to a welfare state that emerges on the back of social policy? I saw, through that phase, the good, bad, and ugly of this early effort. I also saw the emergence of technology, as a tool in the welfare narrative, taking hold in 2009-2010 when the Aadhaar project embedded itself into the mainstream.

2014 onward, the political establishment changes. Remember Prime Minister Modi's early speech in Parliament when he spoke about the National Employment Guarantee Act being a monument to poverty? This is often understood in partisan political terms, but if we put that aside for a moment and look at how the narrative of welfare shifts, there is, I think, a fairly substantive change in the framing of welfare. The whole rights discourse disappears and is replaced by a subtle shift in the discourse on accountability as direct citizen claim-making. The emergence of technology made cash transfers a real possibility. I was an observer and an occasional participant in the very robust debate that took place between 2010 and 2014, particularly in the run-up to the legislation of the National Food Security Act on this question of cash transfers. The debate hinged on two critical issues—efficiency of delivery, since cash transfers could potentially cut through the layers of incompetence and corruption of the state, and the role of markets in enabling access to basic services. Not unlike the rights discourse, governance and accountability were at the heart of the debate, but there was a difference in approach. The rights approach took a normative position on the centrality of the public sector in delivering basic services. It also saw rights as a means of deepening citizen capacity to place claims on the state and extract accountability. The cash transfer debate saw efficiency of direct delivery and the role of markets as the key to accountability. Both views had a very different imagination of the terms of the social contract. This is before Universal Basic Income (UBI) became the buzzword in policy. By 2016-17, JAM (Jan-Dhan, Adhaar, Mobile) and UBI make their way into the welfare discourse, in the process transforming the contours of the debate.

By 2017-18, fueled by the rapid scale of Adhaar, cash transfers were now a reality and the term Direct Benefit Transfers (DBT), presented as a significant innovation, was now firmly part of the vocabulary of India’s welfare State. To me, it seemed like with this mainstreaming of DBT, something quite significant was changing in the evolution of the welfare state and the frameworks, or the grammar of the welfare state. I began to ask myself, "What is different?" And in the process of trying to understand what is different, I also felt the need to reframe the terms of the public debate on welfare—an old problem in the Indian public sphere. Our discourse on welfare very quickly reduces itself to the question of populism; in the old days, what we used to call populism, populist social policy, freebies. Now we say “revdi.”

The popular, public debate has always framed the question of welfare as a tradeoff: welfare vs. growth, good vs. bad welfare, or good vs. bad subsidy. We don't move beyond this to actually interrogate the nature of welfare, or welfarism, as it is evolving and what it means for the very fundamental core of the social contract that we are forging in India. It is an emergent process. It is in the process of articulating itself, it is core to democracy, and I felt we needed to be asking different questions to the standard one of whether this is a good subsidy or a bad subsidy, is this a freebie or not a freebie—which is where the public discourse always gets stuck.

Rohan: Let’s move to your argument about the “techno-patrimonial welfare state.” What is it? What is the argument that you’re making?

Yamini: The argument I'm making is that we've abandoned the idea of welfare as core to the social contract of citizenship. We've abandoned the idea of welfare as evolving within a normative framework of rights. Lured by what technology can offer in terms of direct benefit transfers, welfare is reframing itself as a gift offered by the party leader, almost as an exchange of loyalty rather than a fundamental right that ought to frame the terms of the social contract between citizens and state.

Citizens in this new framework are not engaging the state within the framework of rights. Rather, they are passive recipients of government benevolence, offered in the name of and with the direct patronage of the political party leader. It contributes to extracting loyalty by building a charisma around the leader in a way that makes the leader omnipresent. It's about the patronage of the leadership, of the personification of the leadership, as opposed to a moral obligation of the state and an articulation of citizenship within a framework of rights.

Rohan: You connect this to the idea of the compensatory state that’s been put forward by the economist Rathin Roy…

Yamini: If you recall, sometime in 2022, the Prime Minister made a speech while inaugurating a highway, where he posited the claim that the youth of India should be aware of this new “revdi politics.” This brought back the old debates of freebies vs. merit-based subsidies, tradeoffs between growth vs. welfare, that economists and development professionals have indulged in for many decades. In fact, going back to even when the NREGA was being debated, some had argued that this was equivalent to a helicopter drop of cash into the hands of the rural elite, a freebie being given, a sop being given, as opposed to a sensible policy for social inclusion and welfare on the part of government.

There was a flurry of writing about what is and isn't a revdi and what should be the nature of government social policy. As I started engaging with this debate, and seeking to understand the contours of what was unfolding, I began to recognize that the debate on welfare and the associated policy response can in fact be traced to two very distinct but interconnected disillusionments with the social, economic, and institutional context in India.

The first disillusionment is with the nature of the Indian economy that we more or less know, but often in the blare of political narrative, we don't like to acknowledge. Since 1991, frankly, the nature of our growth, and the associated dynamics of India’s structural transformation have essentially pushed us in the direction of jobless growth.

If you recall back in 2004, against the backdrop of “India Shining” and the electoral victory of what eventually became the United Progressive Alliance, this question of jobless growth had been at the center of the political discourse, and the Congress went to the elections with the phrase “inclusive growth.” Inclusive growth was politically powerful because the economy was growing but not producing enough jobs for the demographic dividend that we were about to get to. That was the logic for why the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, or the Right to Work, became so essential and politically potent. This reality has not just continued. It got exacerbated over the course of our growth history. Amit Basole has a really important paper that looks at this. The fundamental point he makes is that the trajectory of our structural transformation, that moment where we were pulling people out of agriculture into the non-farm economy, was largely shaped through a movement into the informal construction sector, where jobs are informal and precarious rather than low-scale manufacturing, as was the case globally.

Given the unusual nature of our structural transformation, this question of where are jobs going to come from for the youth bulge has always plagued the Indian economy, and frankly, no political party has been able to find a sensible answer to this. Our economic frameworks are not able to give us a sensible answer to this short of saying, "Oh, we missed the manufacturing bus, but we are just about to catch it." We have a new Make in India, we have a new PLI, we have a new card up our sleeve. The honest truth is that the Indian state and its economic policy, has simply failed to generate jobs for its youth—and politicians are not unaware of this—even if they don't want to always admit it in the public discourse and the electoral discourse.

It is against this context that welfare has evolved, as Rathin has so evocatively argued, as a “compensation” for failing to create a pathway of economic transformation that creates opportunity for all. This is the compensatory state.

In analyzing the contours of the compensatory state, I found several distinctive features about India’s peculiar path to welfarism. It's almost as though we are now building a welfare state, not in the traditional social democratic model, where the welfare state was about enhancing labor bargaining power; nor is it where the welfare state was essentially a negotiated bargain between labor and capital; nor is it like the conservative Anglo-Saxon welfare regimes that sought to offer meager means-tested benefits, but was really committed to the idea of full employment. Intriguingly, for a country at our growth path, it isn't even like the productivist welfare regimes of East Asia, which was seriously investing in core human capital health and education with the explicit goal of mobilizing the productive capability of the labor force to participate in economic growth.

Our welfare state is evolving very much with a compensatory logic that is almost designed as a bargain—a Faustian bargain—for failing to build an economy that can, in fact, provide full employment. Its core approach is to use fiscal policy as a means of transferring public finances to citizens as compensation via cash and in-kind transfers—which is also why this argument of the welfare system being all about freebies and fiscal profligacy becomes so significant. It's really not about offering protection to labor; strengthening labor bargaining power. It's not about enhancing productivist capability. It's really about offering a compensation for an economy that is largely failing to create opportunities for all. That's one part of the compensatory story. As you say, Rathin Roy first articulated this, and I found it a very striking way of understanding the nature of the welfare state.

Just think about some of the more recent cash transfer programs that different political parties, including the BJP and the Congress, have launched. Youth unemployment cash transfers, cash transfer to particular kinds of skills, PM Kisan, a cash transfer to our farmers. The logic behind this is not that we are going to invest in human capital. We are going to invest in the economy. We are going to strengthen labor bargaining power. It is very much being built against the backdrop of an economy that is simply failing to provide jobs. This is the compensation that the state has to offer because, in a country with as much inequality as India, in a country where the poor are your primary voters, no matter how capital-friendly a political party is, it cannot go to the polls without offering or without engaging with the lived realities of the vast majority of Indians. That's the beauty of democracy, with all its attendant challenges.

The other disillusionment has a lot to do with the Indian state, which is where the techno of the patrimonial framework comes from. We all know that the Indian state is incompetent, it's corrupt, it's apathetic. But I think, and in some funny way, the failure of the Indian state has circumscribed the elite discourse on welfare. Several years ago, I co-authored a paper with Lant Pritchett titled “Taxes: The Price of Civilization or Tribute to the Leviathan?“ I don't even need to explain the details of this paper because the title, for which all credit goes to Lant, not me, summarizes exactly the challenge that the Indian elite discourse confronts. Against the backdrop of an incompetent state, the bargain of taxes, which is the bargain that society strikes—my willingness to be coerced into paying the state on the expectation that the state provides a set of public services that would improve my productive capability—simply doesn't hold.

In fact, for the average citizen, we see an increase in taxes very much as contributing to the extractive self-serving nature of the Indian state. I saw on Twitter/X recently, a complaint about Bangalore planning to increase its property taxes. This proposal fueled a lot of online chatter about how this is looting the middle class to serve the corrupt politicians. Given the failures of the Indian state and the lived realities that we as taxpayers experience, we now are living in a country where you have to privatize your air if you want to breathe without killing yourself, if you can afford it. This is not an unfair assumption on the part of the taxpayer. But we must recognize the consequences of this reality, for it has circumscribed the nature of the public discourse on taxation, moving it away from any kind of public appetite for a debate on progressive taxation that links to redistribution. If you look at the history of the welfare state, look at European history and how progressive taxation played a huge role in building a more equitable society and a more equitable and functional welfare state.

The second element of this—the consequence of the lived realities of the incompetent Indian state—is that increasingly, the attraction of technology has taken on a very different form. The debate on cash transfers in India really finds its origins in the sense that our public systems just don't work. Any excessive investment in the public systems is the equivalent of tribute to the Leviathan rather than a price of civilization. What technology allows you to do is bypass this extractive incompetent state and deliver whatever minimally you have to deliver to the citizen. And it overemphasizes the possibilities of the market because the state has simply failed.

In some senses, this is where the legitimacy for the project of India's digital public infrastructure, for the project of Aadhaar, finds its roots. We don't ask questions about the limits of technology because we've all mobilized ourselves around the possibility that technology will allow you to bypass this failed state. So, the legitimacy of technology becomes significant, and it is on this basis that we are building our imagination of a welfare state where you can bypass the infirmities of the public system rather than actively investing in building the public system. One of the consequences of that, I would argue, is that we are essentially almost valorizing the possibilities of efficiency over the messy realities of democracy, which are about negotiating, bargaining, and responding to competing claim-making—essential ingredients of democracy that require strong, robust public systems at the grassroots to cohere.

In this framework, the labharthi (beneficiary) version of the welfare state is beginning to evolve. It's not that the rights movement was unaware of the structural violence that the state unleashes on citizens, owing partly to its incompetence and significantly to its elite base. It's that it saw the response to this reality as one that required deeper investments in public systems and the prying open by citizens of spaces within which they could place direct claims on the state. You may accuse me of romanticizing democracy a little too much. Ultimately, as citizens, we just want to get on with our lives. We expect the state to deliver, rather than to fight for basics. But that act of getting on with our lives requires the state to have legitimacy to be able to negotiate these bargains, because if we don't allow for that negotiation to take place, we are giving up on a very fundamental core of our democracy.

Rohan: One contradiction is that you argue this model—which is moving away from entitlements and rights, based more on duty—is, at the same time, sold as more aspiration and “progressive.” How does this narrative—where people are given cash, rather than public or merit goods, and bypassing many layers of the state—come across as an aspirational one, not a dole?

Yamini: It is very much couched in aspirational terms. It uses the grammar of progress. So, Viksit Bharat, Aspirational Bharat, talks about the ease of living. It very interestingly positions the present cash transfer-based model of welfare as empowerment in contrast with the welfare of the past, which it frames as the welfare of entitlement. In some ways, the way I've tried to unpack it is, if you look at the language that has been deployed to explain this imagination of welfare, the prime minister in different speeches has spoken about empowerment as a process of fighting poverty on your own strength—giving you attributes to fight poverty on your own strength, where you as a citizen have a set of duties to use the opportunities that are being offered to you with a degree of responsibility.

For example, in the 75th Independence Day speech, he speaks about how the government has made efforts to provide 24 hours of electricity. It is the duty of the citizen to use it responsibly. Government ensured the supply of water. It is the duty of the citizen to use the water responsibly. In a similar way, the home minister has offered a distinct definition of empowerment, saying we have provided gas connections, we have provided toilets, etc. It is now the responsibility of citizens to use these opportunities to upgrade their lives. This is what we define as empowerment. What is distinct here is that all these so-called things that are being given or things that the government is providing, the efforts that the government is making are being described as acts of governance that require citizens’ to be mobilized around their “duties” and responsibilities as citizens. Responding to what the government “gives” is the citizen’s duty. But this framework is silent about the obligation of the state to provide these basic core public services to rights-bearing citizens. Citizens are being reframed as responsible and dutiful rather than active rights-bearing claimants of welfare.

It's this absence, this articulation of empowerment, without recognizing or acknowledging citizens as rights-bearing individuals, that I find very distinctive and different from what the rights-based model was doing. The rights-based model of welfare was deploying the grammar of rights to empower citizens to place claims on the state. Remember, in the Indian context, this is really important because If you go back to the history of how the Indian state has articulated social and economic rights of citizens from our founding moment, the articulation of political rights has been much fuller than the articulation of socioeconomic rights, which were placed within the directive principles. Welfare was framed as charity offered on the patronage of what the government can do, as opposed to a core right that the state is obligated to offer to its citizens. The Indian state, after all, was not referred to as the “mai baap sarkar” (parental state) for nothing.

What was significant about the articulation of welfare as rights? Going back to the question that had puzzled me in the early days, why is it so important to frame a right to work, to frame a right to food? It has everything to do with the particular nature of citizen-state relations, in which the state frames its relationship with citizens in a particularistic and a clientelistic framework rather than as a relationship with citizens on the basis of normative principles of rights.

What the rights movement was doing was trying to upend that. Its failure to do so with any teeth perhaps had a lot to do with incompetence of the Indian state. And the tantalizing opportunities of technology moved us away from that aspiration of rights-based welfare very quickly. What is very stark about this moment is that we hear a lot about the duties of the citizen as a consequence of the efforts of government improving their ease of living. But there is no language for recognizing that there are certain basic rights that we as citizens have and it is the state's moral obligation and, as a society, our collective moral obligation to ensure that we deliver a minimum standard of public services to all citizens. That's the distinction.

Rohan: You mention that although this is strongly identified with the BJP and Modi, it’s not limited to them and we see echoes of how other parties are also looking at welfarism. You mentioned also that, while it is distinct in this moment, there are echoes of this in the past. Jayalalithaa, former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, finds mention in the piece. I wanted to get a sense of this as an Indian phenomenon, rather than just a BJP one.

Yamini: The real challenge has been around this question of the nature of our economy and the compensatory logic that has driven it. As a consequence, the political salience of what used to be called welfare populism has always been significant. What is different, I think, about this moment are three things. One, even the so-called freebie politics of Tamil Nadu was framed within a broader grammar of rights and dignity. Even the handing out of the sari and the giving out of the television, which epitomized Tamil Nadu politics—both the DMK and ADMK indulged in this competitive welfare over many decades—was embedded in this grammar of rights, dignity, and justice. And what I find distinctive about this current moment of cash transfer-based techno-patrimonialism is that actually it is stripped of any language of rights and dignity. It is fairly transactional in what it's trying to do, driven by this compensatory logic. It's about a set of handouts that the state can offer to beneficiaries.

The second thing about it that’s distinctive, of course, is the ability to deploy technology which didn't exist as effectively and efficiently in the past. The cash transfer mode allows you to bypass all the intermediaries, both the political as well as the bureaucratic intermediaries of the state. Its political salience is really significant because that allows you to draw a direct connection between the leadership and the beneficiary.

Now, of course, popular leaders of regional parties and others in the past—Jayalalithaa epitomizes this, but Indira Gandhi too—had this direct connection between leadership and the voter. But the ability to bypass the intermediaries is new. Giving credit, political attribution, becomes much more direct in this sense. Louise Tillin, Neelanjan Sircar, and I have all made this argument drawing on Lokniti data. You can see this direct attribution changing over time between the days of the UPA, where state governments and state chief ministers were able to receive far more credit attribution, as opposed to the present context, where much of the direct attribution is going to the party leadership, cutting out the intermediaries and the state government, if you're talking about the BJP as one example.

The third thing that is really unique and different about this moment is the kind of political mobilization around the category of beneficiary, the labharthi. The labharthi varg (beneficiary class) has emerged in the political lexicon as a category of political mobilization. Enabled by technology, mobilization of the labharthi varg is unique. Political leaders can cut through the intermediaries to forge a direct, emotive relationship with the individual voter in a way that effectively undermines collective interest-based claim-making; claim-making that relies on caste or religion-based mobilization. Creating, instead, this very neutral social base of beneficiaries—the labharthi varg—around which mobilization can take place.

It is politically a useful tool. It allows, for instance, the BJP to say, "On what basis are you saying we discriminate on religion? You can be a Muslim, you can be a Hindu. If you fall within the beneficiary category, you're receiving the free food grains, you're receiving the Ujjwala gas connection, you're receiving the cash transfer for building the toilet. I can assure you, there's no discrimination.” It's a very, very clever and effective tool to try and undercut the traditional forms of strategies of electoral mobilization around collective interest-based claim-making on state resources. I think this is what makes it so powerful. In undercutting it, it also very effectively deepens that direct connect and direct relationship that is being forged between the party leadership and the individual voter, allowing for that loyalty to become what Neelanjan Sircar calls “vishwas politics,” the base on which voters are mobilized and political parties are able to strengthen their hold.

Rohan: How have people responded to the idea? Have you gotten pushback, critiques, responses that you’ve found valid?

Yamini: This is very much a work in progress, and to me, what I'm trying to grapple with is not just the contemporary political moment but also what the evolution of India's welfare state tells us about the terms of the social contract, as well as about the nature of our democracy. So, it's been interesting to hear people's feedback in trying to understand the historical framework of India's post-independence attempt at building a welfare state and how this intersects with ideas of citizenship.

Right now, by the way, we can only cite claims of efficiency. We don't know because we don't have good data. In the old days, there were a lot of evaluations that laid bare the good, bad, and ugly of government schemes. Given the research environment in which we find ourselves today, there is a paucity of good evaluations. So, we don't have a good sense of what is happening on the ground.

I think the thing that people puzzle over the most, and to be honest, so do I, is, if this is working and if benefits are reaching people, then should we not be satisfied with that? And to that, my response is, are we really risking our democracy by allowing ourselves to marvel at the ability of the state to just deliver some cash into some people's bank accounts? Is that all that we are expecting the state to do?

What is our social contract? Are we really looking to build a society that is anchored in values of fraternity, which is core to our constitution? Are we looking to build a society that is fundamentally about values of equality that build solidarities across communities, that recognizes the importance of investing in all of us? Or are we a society that's just going to bask in the glory of this very limited achievement, enabled by the marvels of technology—that we are able to deliver small amounts of money into individual bank accounts and say that that's good enough state capacity for me, and that is a good enough aspiration for me?

No country in the world has been able to really grow and become an economic powerhouse and a global powerhouse without serious public investment in core public and merit goods that the state is obligated to provide its citizens, like education and health. It's almost like we have given up, and we've legitimized that giving up by saying, "At least this is working, and this is a big step forward in building state capacity." I'm really trying to provoke us to think harder about this.

It does come up against this question of, "At least this is working, and therefore we should celebrate it." My critique isn't that we should not be doing this. My critique is that we should really understand what its larger political economy consequences are, and we should push back hard against depoliticizing the distributional struggle in a country as unequal and where solidarities are as fragile, to be honest, as they are in India today.

Rohan: How are you thinking about taking this argument, this research forward? What are you setting out to study?

Yamini: Since we are heading toward elections—I've been talking to Neelanjan Sircar about this too—this is a good time to do some more empirical work on this and better understand the relationship between these kinds of welfare schemes and voter behavior and voter perspectives on these issues so that we have a much deeper empirical understanding. In that process, to also better understand what, in fact, does the state at the grassroots look like in the present moment? Because, as I mentioned earlier, one of the most critical shifts that have taken place by virtue of this technology-oriented cash transfer welfare system is that it has resulted in degrees of disintermediation of the local state. Who or what is the local state in the present moment? How do citizens engage with the local state with this technology-leviathan that is being built up, and what is it doing to sites of deliberation, dialogue, and collective action at the grassroots?

These were always fairly weak in India, and the reality of our local government system—which was meant to have an embedded structure of Gram Sabhas as sites of dialogue and deliberation at the grassroots—never really entrenched itself except in a few states, Kerala being the most visible example. But now that those investments have become even more diminished, and frankly, the role of local governments, the role of the local state is changing with technology, we need to better understand the dynamics of these spaces to determine the emerging terms within which state-society relations are being framed at the cutting edge. We don't have enough empirical work on that. To me, that would be the basis of understanding how accountability systems are being built, the architecture of the state, and both of these elements together, what contribution they are making to the nature of our democracy.

Rohan: Are there others who have been looking at the Indian welfare state, or other pieces of work, that you’ve found interesting to look at to understand this political economy question?

Yamini: The one thing that I really do lament is that we don't have good empirical work on the welfare state as it has unfolded in the last five to seven years. The paucity of data is really something that makes it very hard for us to understand what's actually going on, but there are groups of people that are thinking about this. I think Rajendran Narayanan at Azim Premji University has been doing some really important work on helping us understand the role of Aadhaar and NREGA and its impact on citizen claim-making in the specific context of NREGA and more broadly, therefore, looking at the relationship between technology and claim-making.

M.R. Sharan has a really important book, Last Among Equals. That, and M. Rajshekhar's book, Despite the State, are very good contemporary documentations, not just of these 10 years, but going back to the evolution of India's welfare state and looking at how citizen claim-making has unfolded and pushes us to therefore think about where the current moment of techno patrimonial welfarism is taking us.

Gabrielle Kruks-Wisner’s fabulous book, Claiming the State: Active Citizenship and Social Welfare in Rural India, is also an important contribution. Adam Auerbach's book, Demanding Development, which looks at this in the context of urban India and, of course, the new book, Migrants and Machine Politics, that he and Tariq Thachil have written, are also contributing to our understanding of how the state-society relationship at the cutting edge is unfolding. I think we do need a lot more empirical work on understanding how technology is contributing to perhaps deepening and reshaping the dynamics of this relationship.

Yamini Aiyar is a public policy scholar and former President of the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi.

Rohan Venkat is the Consulting Editor for India in Transition and a CASI Spring 2024 Visiting Fellow.

As millions of Indians set out to vote over the next two months, India in Transition brings you CASI Election Conversations 2024, an interview series featuring renowned scholars reflecting on the factors and dimensions of politics, political economy, and democracy that will define India’s 2024 election. The first piece in the series features Louise Tillin discussing how federalism has evolved in India over the last decade.

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