Skip to main content

Photo: “Palace of Nations and the Flagpole, Dushanbe, Tajikistan“, by Rjruiziii licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0. Hue modified from the original

Rizvi, Fazal. “Populism, the State and Education in Asia.” Globalisation, Societies and Education, April 5, 2021.


In recent years, many populist leaders and parties have succeeded in taking over the levers of state power, in spite of the fact that much of their political rhetoric in opposition expresses anti-state sentiments. This paper examines how populist leaders and parties in Asia have been able to use the institutions of the state, including education, to exercise and perpetuate their power. Focusing on the examples of India, the Philippines and Singapore, the paper shows how in each of these cases, populist politics consists in attempts to reconfigure the nature of the state and its relationship to civil society, often seeking to obliterate the distinction. A great deal of effort is put in to transform the institutions of the state, including education, making it possible for them to translate populist sentiments into governmental practice. This explains how, when in government, populists are often able to extend their appeal and influence.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.