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Contemporary Indian Politics (ResMA)


Admission requirements

Admission to the MA Asian Studies (research) or another relevant research MA programme. Students from other departments are kindly referred to the course description of the regular MA course.


India had for long been hailed as one of the largest successful democracies in the world, and indeed, an inspiration for newly decolonizing countries in the global south. Its immense diversity and complexity (with many religions, regions, castes, and class) have animated the political domain in often fiercely contentious ways, challenging deeply entrenched historical inequalities. Political contestations have played out not only in the realm of formal electoral politics, but also in multiple arenas of everyday life, posing new puzzles for analyses, to which liberal political theory does not always offer satisfactory answers. For example, in what ways has politics in India challenged theories of civil society or analyses of urban politics through dichotomies of legality and illegality?

Contemporary Indian politics has been in the headlines of global news in recent times. Analysts have pointed to democratic backsliding. New constitutional amendments threaten the rights of minorities, foreground the limits of constitutional and legal redress, and lay bare the various modes and modalities through which power operates in the lives of citizens. Even as new challenges confront the people of India, the governed continue to negotiate longstanding political and social marginalization, perhaps with ever more urgency. The course will examine key themes in contemporary Indian politics (e.g. minorities, politics of state security, urban and resource politics, caste and Dalit politics). It will be founded in historical, anthropological, and critical theory perspectives such that studying politics in India will become an avenue for global comparative analyses.

Course objectives

The course aims to impart an in-depth understanding of contemporary Indian politics, which will enable the students to:

  • understand how different political institutions, actors and processes shape Indian politics;

  • comprehend the multiple trajectories and contestations of Indian democracy;

  • critically reflect upon categories and methodologies of political analysis;

  • develop skills in research, analysis, presentation and writing.


Visit MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar.

The course combines lectures, discussions of readings (primary and secondary source material) and presentations.

Assessment method

Academic Integrity

Students should familiarize themselves with the notion of academic integrity and the ways in which this plays out in their own work. A good place to start is this page. Plagiarism will not be tolerated. Students may not substantially reuse texts they have previously submitted in this or other courses. Minor overlap with previous work is allowed as long as it is duly noted in citation.
Students must submit their assignment(s) to Brightspace through turnitin, so they can be checked for plagiarism. Submission via email is not accepted.

Assessment and weighing

Partial Assessment Weighing
Participation in class, short written assignments & presentation 50%
One long research paper & presentation 50%

The final mark for this course is formed by the weighted average.

In order to pass the course, students must obtain an overall mark of 5.50 (=6) or higher.

The course is an integrated whole. All assessment parts must be completed in the same academic year. No partial marks can be carried over into following years.


Only if the total weighted average is insufficient (5.49 or lower) a resit of the paper is possible (50%). In that case the convener of the course may assign a (new) topic.

A resit of the other partial assessment(s) is not possible.

Exam review

If a student requests a review through an email to the lecturer within 30 days after publication of the exam/paper results, an exam/paper review will be organized.

Reading list

The reading list will be provided on Brightspace.

For the Research MA students additional readings will be determined by the convener at a later stage taking into account the students’ fields of interest.


Students are required to register through uSis. To avoid mistakes and problems, students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number which can be found in the timetable in the column under the heading “USIS-Actnbr.”. More information on uSis is available in Dutch and English. You can also have a look at the FAQ.

Not being registered, means no permission to attend this course. See also the webpage on course and exam enrolment for registration deadlines and more information on how to register.


Dr. Radhika Gupta


Students with disabilities

The university is committed to supporting and accommodating students with disabilities as stated in the university protocol (especially pages 3-5). Students should contact Fenestra Disability Centre at least four weeks before the start of their courses to ensure that all necessary academic accommodations can be made in time conform the abovementioned protocol.