Malevolent Republic

A Short History of the New India

K. S. Komireddi

‘Kapil Komireddi ranks high among the wisest, most astute, and most humane observers of modern India.’ — David Frum, Senior Editor, The Atlantic

Bibliographic Details
Malevolent Republic Hardback
May 2019£20.00

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After decades of imperfect secularism, presided over by an often corrupt Congress establishment, Nehru’s diverse republic has yielded to Hindu nationalism. India is collapsing under the weight of its own contradictions.

Since 2014, the ruling BJP has unleashed forces that are irreversibly transforming the country. Indian democracy, honed over decades, is now the chief enabler of Hindu extremism. Bigotry has been ennobled as a healthy form of self-assertion, and anti-Muslim vitriol has deluged the mainstream, with religious minorities living in terror of a vengeful majority. Congress now mimics Modi; other parties pray for a miracle.

In this blistering critique of India from Indira Gandhi to the present, Komireddi lays bare the cowardly concessions to the Hindu right, convenient distortions of India’s past and demeaning bribes to minorities that led to Modi’s decisive electoral victory. If secularists fail to reclaim the republic from Hindu nationalists, Komireddi argues, India will become Pakistan by another name.


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 EconomistThe New York Times, The Washington PostThe Los Angeles TimesThe GuardianThe New Statesman, The SpectatorTIME, Foreign Policy, and The Jewish Chronicle. This is his first book.


‘Dazzling prose … All of this information is arresting, essential, devastating.’ — The Spectator

‘Komireddi writes scathingly of the cult of Modi, and of the Indian prime minister’s vanity, which has led to the corrosion of virtually every Indian institution, from the central bank to the judiciary and universities.’ — The Times

‘What makes Komireddi’s narrative interesting, and more importantly fair, is the care he’s taken to look at all leaders from Nehru to Modi in equal light.’ — Open Magazine

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

‘Kapil Komireddi is a writer of flair, originality, and, above all, an absolute independence of mind … his ability to see through posturing and prejudice makes his work both distinctive and compelling. This book deserves to be widely read within India and beyond.’
– 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