From Saffron to Development? Causes and Consequences of the Indian Elections



Thomas Blom Hansen, Center for South Asia
Harish S. Wankhede, Center for South Asia
Alexander Lee, Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law

Date and Time

June 4, 2014 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM



Open to the public.

RSVP required by 5PM June 03.


CISAC Conference Room



The recently concluded 16th Lok Sabha elections in India was the biggest democratic election in history. It produced the first absolute majority in Indian national elections in thirty years and catapulted BJP and its leader Narendra Modi to power after a sustained presidential style campaign. The election decisively changed the political landscape in India and seemed to reverse a longstanding trend towards fragmentation of Indian politics along lines of region and caste.

What are the underlying dynamics that made this historic vote possible? Can BJP and Modi deliver the economic growth and employment that they promise? What are the necessary reforms and challenges that confront the new government? Will BJP remain focused on development, or will the older cultural and majoritarian agenda of the RSS and its associated organizations re-appear? What is the prospects for India’s multiple minorities in this new dispensation?

These and other questions will be debated by a panel of three Stanford based academics. 


Speaker Bios:

Thomas Blom Hansen (Moderator/Speaker) is the Reliance-Dhirubhai Ambani Professor of Anthropology at Stanford University. He is also the director of the Center for South Asia at Stanford. He has worked extensively on Hindu-Muslim relations, communal violence and the rise of Hindu nationalism in India. His books include The Saffron Wave. Hindu Nationalism and Democracy in Modern India (Princeton University Press 1999) and Wages of Violence, Naming and identity in postcolonial Bombay (Princeton University Press 2001).



Harish S. Wankhede (Speaker) research interest is to imagine theoretical spaces by interconnecting certain approaches and themes of social science mainly, Justice, politics of recognition and redistribution, secularism, nationalism and the Caste identity. The emphasis of his work is on the marginalized communities in India especially the Muslims, Dalits and the Tribals.

Currently, he is a visiting scholar at the Center for South Asia, Stanford University and working on a research project on the Dalit Panthers’ Movement in Maharashtra. He teaches at the Department of Political Science, University of Delhi.


Alexander Lee (Speaker) is a postdoctoral fellow at the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law. In the fall of 2014 he will be an assistant professor of political science at the University of Rochester. His research focuses on the historical factors governing the success or failure of political institutions, particularly in South Asia and other areas of the developing world. His work has been published in World Politics and the Quarterly Journal of Political Science. Alex earned his PhD from Stanford in 2013. More information on his work can be found on his website.


This event is hosted by the Center for South Asia and the Center for Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law. 


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