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Book review: Lament for India's descent into authoritarianism

Modi's ethnic nationalism threatens to deepen divisions in the subcontinent

The weakening and possible collapse of Indian democracy, lamented and explained by Shashi Tharoor in "The Struggle for India's Soul" and analyzed in forensic detail by Christophe Jaffrelot in "Modi's India," is no small matter.

India, with its 1.4 billion people, is the latest and largest democratic country to fall under the spell of a populist, nationalist leader such as Prime Minister Narendra Modi. As documented in both these books, after winning his first countrywide election at the head of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party in 2014, Modi and his companions, notably Amit Shah, the interior minister, have undermined parliament, the press, civil society, the courts, the central bank and the election commission -- all the institutions, in short, that have maintained India's flawed but functioning democracy since independence from Britain in 1947.

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