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Mukherji, Rahul. “Covid vs. Democracy: India’s Illiberal Remedy.” Journal of Democracy 31, no. 4 (2020): 91-105.


The world’s largest democracy is sliding toward competitive authoritarianism, and the covid-19 pandemic has sped it along the way. In responding to the virus, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government not only imposed a strict nationwide lockdown—with devastating collateral damage—but also adopted a governing style that weakened the position of India’s states and cut the parliamentary opposition out of decision making. The hollowing-out of judicial review and the government’s attacks on the media have intensified the threat to democratic governance. It will take a herculean effort for a weak opposition, acting in an adverse institutional environment, to confront the BJP’s authoritarian politics head on and halt India’s backsliding before the country has passed the point of no return.

Using the Wisconsin Idea as a lens, Education for Democracy argues that public higher education institutions remain a bastion of collaborative problem solving. Examinations of partnerships between the state university and people of the state highlight many crucial and lasting contributions to issues of broad public concern such as conservation, LGBTQ+ rights, and poverty alleviation. The contributors restore the value of state universities and humanities education as a public good, contending that they deserve renewed and robust support.

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.