The Malevolent Republic
India Under Modi
‘Kapil Komireddi ranks high among the wisest, most astute, and most humane observers of modern India.’ –– David Frum, The Atlantic
After decades of imperfect secularism, New Delhi radiates the ideological convictions of its new master, Narendra Modi, as he seeks irreversibly to transform India. The ‘invisible threads’ holding together Nehru’s diverse country have snapped under the weight of Hindu-supremacist rule. Resistance is feeble, with an opposition bleached of conviction. Some parties have taken to mimicking Modi; others pray for a miracle.
Modi, meanwhile, has become an unstoppable force. Democratic institutions, honed over decades, are being repurposed by his project. Hindu bigotry has been ennobled as a healthy form of self-assertion; anti-Muslim rhetoric has permeated the mainstream. India is in a vicious mood, and religious minorities live in terror of a vengeful majority.
Komireddi argues that secular Indian nationalism never had the courage of its convictions—and that its cowardly concessions to the Hindu right, convenient distortions of India’s past, and demeaning bribes to India’s minorities account for its failure to suppress the temptations of Hindu nationalism. Modi decisively won a free election, yet those complicit in his ascent may have squandered the republic. Indian democracy, for decades paraded as the antidote to chauvinism, is now the chief enabler of Hindu extremism.
KS (Kapil Satish) Komireddi was born in India, and educated there and in England. His commentary, criticism, and journalism – from South Asia, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East – have appeared, among other publications, in The Economist, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, The New Statesman, The Spectator, TIME, Foreign Policy, and The Jewish Chronicle. This is his first book.
Praise for the Author
‘Kapil Komireddi is one of the most thoughtful and thorough journalists writing today. His range of interests is impressive in its breadth and cosmopolitanism; his is a rare voice that can comment on global affairs from a truly comparative perspective.’ – Amitav Ghosh
‘As a writer, Kapil Komireddi combines a sharp political intelligence with elegant prose. Having lived for many years in the West, and travelled extensively across Asia, he has a wider comparative perspective often missing in Indian writers on politics. At the same time, having grown up in India in a family active in public service, and as a speaker of several Indian languages, he has a far deeper understanding of Indian society than most Western writers on the sub-continent.’
– Ramachandra Guha
‘Kapil Komireddi ranks high among the wisest, most astute, and most humane observers of modern India. I rely heavily on his insights to form my own understanding of the past, present, and future of the subcontinent.’ – David Frum, Senior Editor, The Atlantic