• With general elections just months away, it is the era of the ten-year retrospective—a chance for India watchers to reflect on what has changed over the past decade under the Narendra Modi government—and what has not.

    One area especially deserving of scrutiny is India’s relations with the neighborhood. The Modi government came to power with an eye towards reimagining India’s relationships in South Asia, and across the Indo-Pacific.

    Yet, the past ten years have seen tremendous upheaval in the region--set against a backdrop of growing competition between India and China to gain the upper hand.

    Few people in India have watched this space more closely than Constantino Xavier. Tino is a Fellow in Foreign Policy and Security Studies at the Centre for Social and Economic Progress in New Delhi, where he leads the Sambandh Initiative on regional connectivity.

    Tino joins Milan on the show this week to discuss whether the Modi government’s approach to the neighborhood demonstrates more continuity than change. Plus, the two discuss the recent crisis in India-Maldives relations, the Ministry of External Affairs’ budget woes, and the potential of an India-Middle East-European Economic corridor.

    Episode notes:

    1. Constantino Xavier and Riya Sinha, “How India Budgets to Become a Leading Power,” Centre for Social and Economic Progress, February 8, 2023.

    2. Constantino Xavier, “India: Looking to Help Frame a New Global Balance,” in Regional Security Outlook 2023 (Canberra: Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia Pacific, 2022).

    3. Constantino Xavier and Amitendu Palit, eds., Connectivity and Cooperation in the Bay of Bengal Region (New Delhi: Centre for Social and Economic Progress, 2023).

    4. Constantino Xavier and Jabin Jacob, eds., How China Engages South Asia: Themes, Partners and Tools (New Delhi: Centre for Social and Economic Progress, 2023).

    4. Hillary Rodham Clinton, “Remarks on India and the United States: A Vision for the 21st Century,” Chennai, India, July 20, 2011.

  • Last Thursday, voters in Pakistan went to the polls in the country’s first general elections since the July 2018 election that brought former prime minister Imran Khan to power. In 2022, Khan was ousted in an unprecedented no confidence vote and now finds himself behind bars.

    In the months before the election, Khan’s political party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), was repressed with party members jailed, harassed, and eventually forced to contest the 2024 elections as independents. Pakistan’s powerful military was widely seen as the guiding force behind these moves. But the election results appear to have caught the military—and perhaps many Pakistanis—by surprise.

    At last count, PTI-backed independent candidates emerged as the single largest party, with allegations of vote rigging rampant. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s traditional political heavyweights are engaged in a furious effort to form a coalition government.

    To talk about the election, and what it means for Pakistan and the region, Milan is joined on the show this week by Zoha Waseem. Zoha is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Warwick and author of Insecure Guardians: Enforcement, Encounters and Everyday Policing in Postcolonial Karachi.

    Milan and Zoha discuss the tumultuous months leading up to the contested polls, the reasons for the PTI’s surprise showing, and what comes next. Plus, the two discuss what these election results mean for India-Pakistan relations.

    Episode notes:

    1. “South Asia’s Economic Turmoil (with Ben Parkin),” Grand Tamasha, September 21, 2022.

    2. “Pakistan After Imran Khan (with Aqil Shah),” Grand Tamasha, May 4, 2022.

    3. Zoha Waseem, “A House Divided: Karachi’s Politics Remain in Flux,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, May 3, 2022.

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  • From the Obama “birther” movement in the United States to the fringe politicians who believe congestion pricing in London is part of an international “socialist plot,” it is no exaggeration to say that conspiracy theories have become part of the standard political playbook the world over.

    But when it comes to outlandish conspiracy theories, India stands out as a country where such tales are driving everyday political conversations in a major way. Buoyed by politicians, the media, and social media forwards, they have come to be accepted as reality by many people.

    A new book, Love Jihad and Other Fictions: Simple Facts to Counter Viral Falsehoods, takes aim at these conspiracy theories, subjecting them to strict journalistic scrutiny using ground reporting, data, and a bit of common sense. The authors—Sreenivasan Jain, Mariyam Alavi, and Supriya Sharma—are veteran journalists with a long track record of ground reporting.

    On this week’s show, Mariyam and Supriya join Milan on the show to talk about the book. The trio discuss allegations of “love jihad,” rumors of widespread religious conversions, and claims of “minority appeasement.” Plus, the three discuss what lessons this book holds for journalism and civic discourse more generally.

    Episode notes:

    1. Karan Thapar, “Debunking propaganda myths, restoring truths,” Hindustan Times, January 27, 2024.

    2. Sreenivasan Jain, Mariyam Alavi, and Supriya Sharma, “Bringing Journalistic Scrutiny to Hindutva Conspiracy Theories,” The Wire, January 17, 2024.

  • It seems like you cannot open a newspaper, listen to a foreign policy podcast, or open Twitter/X without somebody somewhere sounding off on the emerging geopolitical battle over semiconductors. Semiconductors, which we colloquially refer to as chips, have quickly moved from the periphery to center-stage of global high politics.

    To discuss this high-stakes race, and India’s role in it, Milan is joined on the show this week by the scholar Pranay Kotasthane. Pranay is Chair of High-Tech Geopolitics at the Takshashila Institution in Bangalore and, with Abhiram Manchi, is the author of the new book, When the Chips Are Down: A Deep Dive into a Global Crisis.

    Pranay and Milan discuss the history of the technology, importance of semiconductors at the current geopolitical crossroads, and how the world will balance national security interests and with rapid technological change. Plus, the two discuss India’s most recent attempt to build a semiconductor ecosystem and the policy missteps that bedeviled past efforts.

    Episode notes:

    1. “India's Tryst With Policymaking (with Pranay Kotasthane),” Grand Tamasha, January 25, 2023.

    2. Pranay Kotasthane and Raghu S. Jaitley, Missing In Action : Why You Should Care About Public Policy (New Delhi: Penguin India, 2023).

    3. Pranay Kotasthane, “Anticipating the Unintended,” weekly Substack newsletter.

  • This week, Grand Tamasha kicks off its eleventh season with a special return guest to the podcast. The Third Way: India’s Revolutionary Approach to Data Governance is an important new book by the lawyer-scholar-and-author Rahul Matthan. Rahul is a partner at the law firm Trilegal, where he heads their technology practice. Over the past several years, he has worked closely with the Government of India, most recently as DPI advisor to the Ministry of Finance during India’s G20 presidency.

    Rahul joins Milan on the show this week to discuss India’s unique approach to building digital public infrastructure (DPI)—an ecosystem that can have transformative impact at home but also build partnerships for India abroad. They talk about India’s DPI evolution, India’s unique public-private model, and whether India’s approach can be replicated abroad. Plus, the two discuss how India can mitigate the risks posed by excessive surveillance, privacy breaches, and beneficiary exclusion.

    Episode notes:

    1. “What the Personal Data Protection Act Means for India (with Rahul Matthan),” Grand Tamasha, Septemner 27, 2023.

    2. “Book Discussion: The Third Way: India’s Revolutionary Approach to Data Governance,” Carnegie India Global Technology Summit 2023, December 7, 2023.

    3. Rahul Matthan, “Tech policy in India has had a year packed with action,” Mint, December 27, 2023.

  • Back in 2019, we started the Grand Tamasha podcast on a whim. India’s 2019 general elections were around the corner, and we sensed that there might be a (temporary) marketplace for a weekly audio podcast focused on Indian politics and policy for diehards hoping to keep up with the campaign action. Nearly five years later, the podcast has become a weekly fixture and the marketplace has turned out to be more welcoming that we had imagined.

    For Milan, one of the joys of doing a podcast week-in and week-out is the ability to read some of the best new books on India and speak with their authors—from journalists to historians, and political scientists to novelists. Last year, we published our first annual list of our favorite books featured on the podcast in 2022. As the current year comes to an end and we prepare for a mini-podcast hibernation for the holidays, here—in no particular order—are our Grand Tamasha top books of 2023 (drumroll, please):

    Shadows at Noon: The South Asian Twentieth Century

    By Joya Chatterji. Published by Yale University Press, Penguin Random House India, Vintage.

    Migrants and Machine Politics: How India's Urban Poor Seek Representation and Responsiveness

    By Adam Michael Auerbach and Tariq Thachil. Published by Princeton University Press.

    Age of Vice

    By Deepti Kapoor. Published by Riverhead, Juggernaut.

    Making Bureaucracy Work: Norms, Education and Public Service Delivery in Rural India

    By Akshay Mangla. Published by Cambridge University Press.

    In this episode, Milan talks about why he loved each of these books and includes short clips from his conversations with Joya, Adam and Tariq, Deepti, and Akshay.

    Think of this final episode of our tenth season as our little holiday present to you—our listeners.

    Episode Notes:

    Grand Tamasha’s Best Books of 2023

  • Over the past decade, India has witnessed significant conflict within—and around—several democratic institutions meant to act as a check on executive power. One of the most important theatres of conflict has been the judiciary—more specifically, the Supreme Court.

    A new book by the legal scholar Gautam Bhatia, Unsealed Covers: A Decade of the Constitution, the Courts and the State, takes readers through some of the most controversial cases that have come before the court during this critical decade. Gautam is a lawyer who has been personally involved in several important contemporary constitutional cases. He is the author of multiple books of fiction and non-fiction and founder of the influential, “Indian Constitutional Law and Philosophy” blog.

    Gautam joins Milan on the show this week to talk about the relationship between judicial assertiveness and the strength of the government in power, disconcerting signs of excessive judicial deference, and ongoing debates over the right to privacy.

    Plus, the two discuss the controversial issue of electoral bonds, the government’s proposed law outlining new procedures to select election commissioners, and the vagaries of the controversial anti-defection law.

    1. Gautam Bhatia, “Decoding the Supreme Court’s Election Commission Judgment – I,” Indian Constitutional Law and Philosophy (blog), March 3, 2023.

    2. Gautam Bhatia, “A case that scans the working of the anti-defection law,” Hindu, February 24, 2023.

    3. Gautam Bhatia, “The Supreme Court’s Right-to-Privacy Judgment,” Economic & Political Weekly 52, no. 44 (November 4, 2017).

  • On December 3, votes were finally tallied in four Indian states which went for elections this past month—the last test parties and candidates will face before the general elections in April-May of next year.

    After much anticipation, Counting Day left very little to the imagination. In a big setback for the Congress Party and the opposition alliance more broadly, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won decisive elections in three big Hindi belt states—Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan. The lone Congress Party victory came in the southern state of Telangana, where it displaced the once-dominant regional party—the Bharat Rashriya Samithi (BRS).

    To discuss the results—and what they tell us about the race for 2024—Milan is joined this week by two veteran political journalists: Sunetra Choudhury, the political editor of the Hindustan Times, and Dipankar Ghose serves, the paper’s deputy national editor.

    The trio discuss the impressive performance of the BJP, the Congress Party’s lingering weaknesses, and how these results will shape the 2024 campaign. Plus, Milan, Sunetra, and Dipankar talk about the next steps for the opposition I.N.D.I.A. alliance and whether Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra had any long-term impact.

    Episode notes:

    Prashant Jha, “What BJP wins in 3 states mean for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections,” Hindustan Times, December 4, 2023.

    Vaibhav Tiwari, “‘Conceit’: Congress slammed by INDIA bloc allies after 3-1 election drubbing,” Hindustan Times, December 4, 2023.

    Ritesh Mishra and Dipankar Ghose, “Misfired OBC gambit, infighting: How to lose a mandate in 5 years,” Hindustan Times, December 4, 2023.

    Sunetra Choudhury, “HT Interview: Unsavoury words were used against me…Madhya Pradesh election results have silenced them: Scindia,” Hindustan Times, December 4, 2023.

  • Anyone who has even casually glanced at the news over the past several weeks would be hard pressed to miss the plethora of headlines about north India’s air pollution crisis. Every year as late Fall rolls around, air pollution across north India—including in the nation’s capital of Delhi—climbs to levels that make life almost unlivable for hundreds of millions of residents.

    As bad as the crisis is, the situation is not helpless. Milan’s guest on the show this week, the economist Anant Sudarshan, has spent years trying to evaluate solutions to what seems like an intractable problem. Anant is an Associate Professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Warwick and a Senior Fellow at the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC).

    Milan and Anant discuss the contours of India’s air pollution crisis, the country’s environmental data challenge, and the efficacy of Delhi’s controversial “odd-even” scheme. Plus, the two discuss strategies for managing industrial pollution, the potential of Indian emissions markets, and whether voters sufficiently value the air they breathe.

    Episode notes:

    Michael Greenstone et al., “The Solvable Challenge of Air Pollution in India,” India Policy Forum 2017-18: 1-51.

    Michael Greenstone et al., A Roadmap Towards Cleaning India’s Air (EPIC India and Harvard Kennedy School, 2018).

    Michael Greenstone et al., “Can Pollution Markets Work in Developing Countries? Experimental Evidence from India,” Working Paper, January 27, 2023.

  • One of the most remarkable episodes in modern Indian history is the story of how the leaders of over 550 sovereign princely states were convinced that they should give up their independence to become a part of a free India. This monumental task of accession was carried out over weeks, not months or years.

    But accession was just the first step in an ongoing drama between India’s princes and the rulers of the Indian republic, a drama that would unfold over the next many decades. A new book, Dethroned: Patel, Menon and the Integration of Princely India, captures this incredible story in almost cinematic fashion. The book’s author is John Zubrzycki, an Australia-based writer who has previously worked in India as a diplomat as well as a foreign correspondent.

    John joins Milan on the show this week to discuss life in princely India, the myth of India’s “bloodless revolution,” and the cast of characters tasked with integrating India. Plus, the two discuss the incredible story of the accession of Junagadh, Indira Gandhi’s decision to abolish privy purses, and the legacy of the princes seven-and-a-half decades on.

    Episode notes:

    “India’s Hidden Treatise on Statecraft (with Rahul Sagar),” Grand Tamasha, November 2, 2022.

    “The Hidden History of Conservative Economics in Post-1947 India (with Aditya Balasubramanian,” Grand Tamasha, October 11, 2023.

    “Ramachandra Guha Revisits India After Gandhi,” Grand Tamasha, April 19, 2023.

  • In recent years, there has a growing concern that the Supreme Court of India is not firing on all cylinders. Critics have argued that the court functions in an opaque manner, exhibits excessive deference to the executive, is sluggish in concluding cases, and is hampered by an excessive reliance on super-lawyers who can get their cases heard for exorbitant fees.

    A new book, Court on Trial: A Data-Driven Account of the Supreme Court of India, examines each of these critiques, using hard data from the Court’s own functioning. Milan’s guest on the show this week is one of the book’s authors, constitutional lawyer Aparna Chandra.

    Aparna is an associate professor of law at the National Law School of India, and has previously worked at the National Judicial Academy in Bhopal and the National Law University in Delhi, where she founded the Centre for Constitutional Law, Policy and Governance.

    Milan and Aparna talk about the institutional crisis facing the Court, the Court’s shocking backlog, and the arbitrary powers of the Chief Justice. Plus, the two discuss the controversy around judicial appointments, the excessive deference the Court pays to the government of the day, and what if anything can be done to improve the Court’s effectiveness.

    Episode notes:

    “A Court in Crisis? Interview with the authors of 'Court on Trial', a data-driven analysis of the Supreme Court of India,” Bar&Bench, September 7, 2023.

    [VIDEO] “How do we fix the Supreme Court of India?” Scroll Ideas, September 1, 2023.

    Soutik Biswas, “Supreme Court: Why India's powerful top court is in a 'crisis,’” BBC News, July 31, 2023.

  • It’s been six weeks since Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took to the floor of Parliament to announce that Canadian security agencies had evidence of credible allegations that Indian authorities had a hand in the killing of a Canadian citizen, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, on Canadian soil in June 2023. Nijjar was a well-known activist in Sikh diaspora circles but someone Indian authorities branded a terrorist.

    Trudeau’s allegations led to a rapid downward spiral in bilateral relations between India and Canada, a spiral that shows no immediate sign of ending. To discuss these recent events—and the larger question of bilateral relations between Canada and India—Milan is joined on the show this week by Sanjay Ruparelia. Sanjay is Associate Professor in the Department of Politics and Public Administration at Toronto Metropolitan University, where he holds the Jarislowsky Democracy Chair. He is the host of the podcast, “On the Frontlines of Democracy,” and the author of Divided We Govern: Coalition Politics in Modern India.

    Milan and Sanjay discuss how India fits into the Canadian government’s Indo-Pacific strategy, the two countries’ longstanding bilateral struggles over trade and investment, and the explosive growth of the Indian diaspora in Canada. Plus, the two discuss the allegations surrounding the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, the Indian government’s response, and the precarious position the Biden administration finds itself in.

    Episode notes:

    Sanjay Ruparelia, “The opportunities and challenges of courting India,” in Maxwell A. Cameron, David Gillies and David Carment, eds., Democracy and Foreign Policy in an Era of Uncertainty: Canada Among Nations 2022 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2023): 241-268.

    “Reframing Canada’s Global Engagement: Ten Strategic Choices for Decision-Makers,” Global Canada, September 2020.

    Sanjay Ruparelia, “In India, the government’s election machine is humming – but the economy and democracy are at risk,” The Globe and Mail, March 22, 2022.

  • As the fighting between Israel and Hamas intensifies, the world is bracing for the widening of a conflict that has the potential to escalate quickly and bring in outside powers from the region and beyond.

    India’s position in the aftermath of the horrific Hamas attacks on Israel on October 7th—and the subsequent Israeli military response—has been noteworthy. Unlike many countries in the Global South, which offered qualified support for Israel after the attacks and have positioned themselves with the Palestinian cause, India’s initial response made no mention of Gaza at all.

    To make sense of India’s evolving position and the ways in which its Middle East policy has shifted over the decades, Milan is joined on the show this week by the political scientist Nicolas Blarel. Nicolas is Associate Professor of International Relations at the Institute of Political Science at Leiden University in The Netherlands and the author of The Evolution of India's Israel Policy: Continuity, Change, and Compromise since 1922.

    Milan and Nicolas discuss India’s response to the conflict in Israel-Palestine, its growing embrace of Israel, and the growing bilateral security partnership. Plus, the two discuss the Modi government’s simultaneous outreach to Gulf Arab states and the factors that could shape how India responds to an expanded regional conflict.

    Episode notes:

    Crystal A. Ennis and Nicolas Blarel, eds., The South Asia to Gulf Migration Governance Complex (Bristol, UK: Bristol University Press, 2022).

    Nicolas Blarel, The Evolution of India's Israel Policy: Continuity, Change, and Compromise since 1922 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015).

    Sumit Ganguly and Nicolas Blarel, “Modi’s Comments on Israel-Gaza War Signal Shift,” Foreign Policy, October 12, 2023.

    Nicolas Blarel, “Navigating Asian Rivalries: Israel’s ties with China and India,” National University of Singapore-Middle East Institute, Singapore Insights No. 300, July 25, 2023.

  • In September, India’s parliament passed a long-anticipated piece of legislation, known as the Women’s Reservation Bill.

    The bill—which sailed through both houses of Parliament within days of being introduced— reserves one-third of seats in the national parliament and the various state assemblies for women—formalizing a quota that has long existed at the local levels in India, but never at higher levels of politics.

    To discuss the bill—what it says, why it was passed, and what it might mean for Indian politics more generally—Milan is joined on the show this week by the political scientist Carole Spary, who is Associate Professor at the University of Nottingham and Director of the university’s Asia Research Institute.

    She is the author of two important books related to female representation: Gender, Development, and the State in India and Performing Representation: Women Members in the Indian Parliament (with Shirin Rai).

    Milan and Carole discuss the state of female political representation in India today, why getting a women’s reservation bill passed has taken so long, and why its implementation is likely to be delayed for years.

    Plus, the two discuss the firsthand experience of women inside the halls of Parliament and whether India is witnessing a new era of “women-centric” governance.

    Episode notes:

    1. Carole Spary, “Women candidates, women voters, and the gender politics of India’s 2019 parliamentary election,” Contemporary South Asia 28, no. 2 (2020): 223-241.

    2. Carole Spary, “Missed opportunities: time is running out for the Indian government to pass legislative gender quotas bill,” King’s India Institute, November 1, 2018.

    3. Shireen M. Rai and Carole Spary, “Populism, parliament, and performance,” Seminar 752 (April 2022).

  • One of the major themes of India’s G20 presidency, which concludes later this year, has been the advancement of an ambitious green transition for the 21st century.

    If the world’s hopes of accelerating a clean, sustainable, just, affordable, and inclusive energy transition are to come to fruition, ensuring the spread of solar power—especially to the poorest parts of the globe—will be essential. Milan’s guest on the show this week is tasked with doing exactly this.

    Dr. Ajay Mathur is the Director General of the International Solar Alliance (ISA), a relatively new international consortium of more than 120 countries. ISA’s overarching objective is to foster the efficient consumption of solar energy to reduce the world’s dependence on fossil fuels.

    Dr. Mathur was formerly the Director General of The Energy and Resources Institute and the Director General of India's Bureau of Energy Efficiency. He and Milan discuss the explosive growth in solar power and what that means for India—and the world. They also talk about the promise of green hydrogen, the impediments to solar adoption, and the expansion of mini-grid technology.

    Episode notes:

    1. Ajay Mathur, “International finance must take a lead in mobilising solar investments,” Business Standard, September 7, 2023.

    2. Ajay Mathur, “Here's how solar can help triple renewable energy by 2030,” World Economic Forum, August 14, 2023.

    3. “What COP26 Means for India—and the World,” (with Navroz Dubash), Grand Tamasha, November 17, 2021.

    4. “How India Can Get to Net Zero Emissions,” (with Jayant Sinha), Grand Tamasha, October 13, 2021.

  • Toward a Free Economy: Swatantra and Opposition Politics in Democratic India is a new book on the Swatantra Party, a leading opposition party that emerged after Indian independence to contest the entrenched dominance of the Congress Party. The leaders of Swatantra imagined a conservative alternative to the left-of-center Congress, one that embraced libertarian principles and promoted the idea of a “free economy.” This new book, written by the historian Aditya Balasubramanian, holds many lessons for how we understand democracy, neoliberalism, and India’s own economic evolution today.

    This week Milan sits down with Balasubramanian, a lecturer in economic history at the Australian National University, to talk more about his new work and the history of conservative economic thought in India. The two discuss why and how Swatantra leaders parted ways with Gandhi and other leading lights of the nationalist movement, the meaning of a “free economy,” and the ordinary Indians who powered the party’s sudden rise in the late 1960s. Plus, the two discuss the legacy of the Swatantra Party several decades after the party’s collapse and the death of its key figures—and what lessons it might hold for India’s opposition.

    Episode Notes:

    Aditya Balasubramanian, “Toward a Free Economy: Swatantra and Opposition Politics in Democratic India,” Lecture at King’s India Institute, July 5, 2023.

    Aditya Balasubramanian, “Some lessons for INDIA from the Swatantra Party,” Hindustan Times, August 31, 2023.

  • Shadows at Noon: The South Asian Twentieth Century is a sweeping new book by the historian Joya Chatterji. The book tells the subcontinent's story from the British Raj through independence and partition to the forging of the modern nations of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. This is no ordinary history, however. Of course, there is plenty of politics and an in-depth discussion of citizenship, nationalism, and political leaders past and present. But there is equal attention paid to unconventional topics—such as food, leisure, and household dynamics.

    Joya Chatterji is a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, Emeritus Professor of South Asian History at the University of Cambridge and Reader in International History at the London School of Economics.

    She joins Milan on the podcast this week to talk about this career-defining work. The two discuss the continuity—and change—in the post-1947 trajectories of Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan; India’s unique liberal “accent”; and the striking resemblance between Nehru and Jinnah that often goes unsaid. Plus, the two discuss the region’s culinary habits, the unspoken tensions within South Asian households, and what sets Bollywood apart from Hollywood.

    Episode Notes:

    William Dalrymple, “Shadows at Noon: The South Asian Twentieth Century by Joya Chatterji review – charming, genre-defying study,” The Guardian, July 3, 2023.

    Rana Mitter, “Shadows at Noon — Joya Chatterji exposes the beating heart of south Asia,” Financial Times, August 11, 2023.

    “Ramachandra Guha Revisits India After Gandhi,” Grand Tamasha, April 19, 2023.

  • This August, India’s parliament passed a landmark piece of legislation, known as the Digital Personal Data Protection Act. The new act provides a framework for the protection of users’ personal data and the privacy of individuals.

    The passage of this bill marks the culmination of a decade-long effort to frame a data privacy law—an effort that has had many twists and turns. To talk more about this important piece of legislation and what it means for India and Indians, Milan is joined on the show this week by Rahul Matthan. Rahul is a partner in Trilegal’s Bengaluru office where he heads the firm’s telecom, media, and technology practice. Over the past decade, he has been intimately involved with India’s data privacy efforts as a lawyer, author, and technology expert. He is the author of several books, including the forthcoming, The Third Way: India’s Revolutionary Approach to Data Governance. Since 2016, he has written a weekly column for Mint called “Ex Machina.”

    Milan and Rahul discuss the long and winding road that led to the passage of the data protection bill, the compromises struck along the way, and critics’ concerns about national security exemptions. Plus, the two discuss the debate over data localization and the evolution of an active, well-connected technology policy community across India.

    Episode Notes:

    Rahul Matthan, “Get on with data protection now that the law’s enacted,” Mint, August 15, 2023.

    Rahul Matthan, “Companies must work hard to ensure data protection,” Mint, August 7, 2023.

    Rahul Matthan, “The draft data privacy law surprises with its simplicity,” Mint, July 18, 2023.

    Anirudh Burman, “Resisting the Leviathan: The Key Change in India’s New Proposal to Protect Personal Data,” Carnegie India, November 28, 2022.

  • On Saturday, September 9, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi surprised observers by announcing on Day One of the G20 summit in New Delhi that all 20 member nations had achieved consensus on the New Delhi G20 Summit Leaders Declaration.

    The announcement capped nine months of frenzied activity which involved thousands of meetings, consultations, and side events associated with India’s G20 leadership. It also came just days after some negotiators warned that a consensus may be out of reach—due to continued disagreement over language condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

    To talk about the G20 summit—and what it means for India and Indian foreign policy—Milan is joined on the show this week by Ashok Malik. Ashok is a Partner at The Asia Group and Chair of its India Practice. He previously served as Policy Advisor to External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and, between 2017 and 2019, speech writer and spokesperson for the President of India.

    Milan and Ashok discuss the big deliverables from the Delhi summit, the meaning of the new India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor, and the striking alignment between the United States and India. Plus, the two discuss the growing influence of foreign policy on Indian domestic politics.

    Episode Notes:

    Prashant Jha, “On Modi’s foreign policy, here is what the Opposition gets it wrong,” Hindustan Times, September 14, 2023.

    Ashok Malik, “The continuity constituency and Modi's re-election bid,” Economic Times, August 29, 2023.

    [VIDEO] “G20 Summit 2023 India (with Ashok Malik),” CNN-News18, September 12, 2023.

    “Ro Khanna on the U.S.-India Partnership,” Hindustan Times, September 13, 2023.

  • Ro Khanna is a Member of the United States Congress who has represented California's 17th congressional district since 2017. He also serves as co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, and recently led a bipartisan delegation to India that coincided with India’s Independence Day. During their visit, the eight-member delegation met with business, tech, and government leaders in Mumbai, Hyderabad, and New Delhi.

    To talk more about his visit—and his views on U.S.-India relations—Ro Khanna joins Milan on the show this week. The two discuss his visit to India, the impact his Indian grandfather had on his life, and the state of democracy in the country. Plus, Milan and Ro discuss cricket diplomacy, U.S. industrial policy, and what Democrats need to do to win the votes of the Asian American diaspora.

    Episode Notes:

    Ro Khanna, “The New Industrial Age,” Foreign Affairs, January/February 2023.

    “The Next Chapter in U.S.-India Defense Ties (with Lindsey Ford),” Grand Tamasha, September 5, 2023.

    Sumitra Badrinathan, Devesh Kapur, Jonathan Kay, and Milan Vaishnav, “Social Realities of Indian Americans: Results From the 2020 Indian American Attitudes Survey,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, June 9, 2021.

    Arvin Alaigh, “A Reckoning for the Modi Democrats,” Dissent, December 23, 2020.