«The Greatest Unforced Policy Error in Modern India»

Author James Crabtree in Conversation with Shaila Seshia Galvin on India after the General Election

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After a first conversation in Zurich with Ruth Kattumuri and Mark Dittli, James Crabtree agreed to travel with Asia Society Switzerland to Geneva the next day to talk at The Graduate Institute with Shaila Seshia Galvin. While the Zurich talk circled mostly about India’s economic development, the discussion co-hosted with the Albert Hirschman Center on Democracy James and Shaila focused on India as a democracy and where it is heading after the elections.

The conversation took place only days after it became clear that Narendra Modi, his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and their coalition, National Democratic Alliance (NDA), had just achieved another landslide victory after first being voted into power in 2014. James and Shaila discussed Modi’s first term, it’s achievements and where it changed the economic and social landscape of India, as well as the campaign. The topics covered a broad range from welfare schemes to the agrarian crisis, from urbanization to farmers as a strong political influence as voters, and from retail corruption and multibillion Dollar scandals to the universal basic income as sketched by the oppositional Congress party. 


Watch the whole conversation here:


James Crabtree is a Singapore-based author and journalist, and an Associate Professor of Practice at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. His best-selling book, «The Billionaire Raj: A Journey Through India’s New Gilded Age», was released in mid-2018. It was short-listed for the FT / McKinsey book of the year. James is a columnist for Nikkei Asian Review and a non-resident fellow at the Asia-Pacific programme at Chatham House. Between 2011 and 2016, James was Mumbai bureau chief for the Financial Times leading coverage of Indian business. Before joining the FT, James was a senior editor at Prospect, Britain’s leading monthly magazine of politics and ideas. He has written for a range of global publications, including the New York Times, the Economist, and Foreign Policy. Before working as a journalist, James was a senior policy advisor in the UK Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit under Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. 

Shaila Seshia Galvin is Assistant Professor in anthropology and sociology at the Graduate Institute. She conducts research at the intersection of environmental, political, and economic anthropology. Shaila holds a PhD in Anthropology and Forestry and Environmental Studies from Yale University. Her recent research focuses on processes of agrarian change, particularly in India, and has addressed issues related to sustainable agriculture as well as agricultural biodiversity and intellectual property.  Professor Seshia Galvin is currently completing a book manuscript, based on her doctoral research in northern India, which explores the rise of commercial organic agriculture, and along with it third-party certification, standardisation processes, and contract farming, in the first decades of the 21st century.


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