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On Interpreting India, every two weeks, we bring in voices from India and around the globe to unpack how technology, the economy, and foreign policy impact India’s relationship with the world. Interpreting India is a Carnegie India production and is hosted by Carnegie scholars. In season 2, Srinath Raghavan passes the mic to a new generation of hosts, his colleagues at Carnegie, who will explore the questions that hold the potential to alter India’s trajectory through the coming decade.
 
Each week, Milan Vaishnav and his guests from around the world break down the latest developments in Indian politics, economics, foreign policy, society, and culture for a global audience. Grand Tamasha is a co-production of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Hindustan Times.
 
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show series
 
We are nearly done with our sixth season of Grand Tamasha and we have been shamefully overdue in scheduling a news round-up for the Fall. To set things straight and to discuss the latest news coming out of India, Milan is joined on the podcast this week by Grand Tamasha regulars Sadanand Dhume of AEI and the Wall Street Journal and Tanvi Madan of t…
 
After two, torturous weeks of around-the-clock negotiations at the COP26 Summit in Glasgow, Scotland, diplomats from nearly 200 countries agreed to accelerate their commitments to reduce carbon emissions, phase out fossil fuels, and ramp up aid to poor countries, many of whom are the biggest victims of the climate crisis. However, not everyone is p…
 
In this episode, Deep Pal joins Shibani Mehta to delve deep into China’s influence in South Asia. In recent years, China’s engagement in South Asia has expanded significantly beyond commercial and development projects to encompass political and security interests. While this interaction often targets the needs of specific countries, even states wit…
 
For more than fifteen years, the scholar Mukulika Banerjee has been deeply embedded in the social and political life of two villages in the state of West Bengal—studying developments there, both during elections and between them. Her new book, “Cultivating Democracy: Politics and Citizenship in Agrarian India,” is a deeply researched study of India…
 
On February 14, 2019, a suicide bomber crashed into an Indian paramilitary convoy in Pulwama, Kashmir, killing forty Indian soldiers. The attack was the deadliest assault on Indian security personnel in Kashmir in three decades and captured the attention of domestic and international headlines. It also led to a nationalist fervor that fueled, in pa…
 
In this episode, Matthew D. Green joins Udbhav Tiwari to delve into the debate surrounding end-to-end encryption. In February, the Indian government issued new rules requiring companies like WhatsApp to implement traceability in their end-to-end encrypted communications platforms. The decision originated from the government’s concerns about the pro…
 
Spy Stories: Inside the Secret World of the RAW and the ISI is the brand new book by investigative journalists Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark. Spy Stories relies on unprecedented access to top military and intelligence officials in both India and Pakistan to shed light on some of the most consequential crises in recent South Asian history—from t…
 
In this episode, Shanthie Mariet D'Souza joins Shibani Mehta to analyze the question of aid and development in a Taliban led Afghanistan. The Western withdrawal from Afghanistan and the ensuing ascent of the Taliban has led to the collapse of the Afghan economy. The foreign aid, crucial towards sustaining the economy, has mostly stopped, resulting …
 
Joanna Slater is a veteran journalist who served as the Washington Post India bureau chief based in New Delhi from 2018-2021. She was posted there during one of the most consequential periods in recent Indian history—covering the 2019 general elections, the abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir, the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pegasus hacking revelations…
 
In a few weeks, climate negotiators from around the world will descend on Glasgow, Scotland, for the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP 26. Amid dire warnings from climate scientists about our warming planet and desperate calls for stepped-up action, India finds itself at the center of the conversation. At home, Indian…
 
French political scientist Christophe Jaffrelot’s new book, Modi’s India: Hindu Nationalism and the Rise of Ethnic Democracy, is a comprehensive exploration of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi—its origins, policies, philosophy, and relationship to democracy. Patrick Heller of Brown University calls the boo…
 
With the conclusion of the first in-person QUAD leaders’ summit, the 76th Session of the UNGA, the SCO summit, and the AUKUS alliance, the last two weeks have been momentous for world politics. In this episode of Interpreting India, Gautam Bambawale joins Deep Pal to discuss the major foreign policy events of the last two weeks and India’s contribu…
 
Last week, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made his maiden visit to Washington under the new Biden administration. It was all sunlight and good vibes and—for a week—American and Indian policymakers ignored the fact that a darkening cloud is gathering over U.S.-India relations in the form of potential U.S. sanctions. Milan’s guest on the show th…
 
This week, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives in Washington for his first in-person meeting in the American capital with U.S. President Joe Biden. Modi, Biden, and the leaders of Australia and Japan will also be gathering for an in-person edition of the Quad Leader’s summit. To understand what’s on the agenda and what it means for the Unit…
 
It’s been a month since the fall of Kabul and the sudden Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. In the intervening weeks, policymakers the world over have been scrambling to understand the reasons for the sudden collapse of the Afghan government, the real aims of the new Taliban regime, and the geopolitical implications of this crisis for the region AND …
 
In this episode, Rumi Aijaz joins Anirudh Burman to discuss Delhi’s new Draft Master Plan, 2041. How has it improved upon the shortcomings of the preceding master plans? How does it compare with the planning process across other cities in India? In July, the Delhi Development Authority released the draft Master Plan 2041, making it the fourth maste…
 
In this episode of Interpreting India, Avinash Paliwal and Thomas Ruttig join Deep Pal to analyze the present situation in Afghanistan, what the implications of the U.S. withdrawal might be, and what this might mean for India and other countries involved. Episode Background: The withdrawal of the United States and its NATO allies from Afghanistan h…
 
One year ago, Chinese and Indian forces traded blows in the remote Galwan Valley—resulting in the first deaths along the Line of Actual Control since 1975. Months later, India would be hit by the coronavirus, whose precise origin story in China we still do not fully understand. Indian public opinion towards China has soured and Beijing has nervousl…
 
Over the last two-and-a-half years, Milan and his guests have spent a lot of time on the podcast talking about some of the biggest questions facing Indian society. What is driving an increase in religious nationalism? To what extent is religious intolerance on the rise? Is caste morphing from a marker of hierarchy to a marker of difference? And wha…
 
In this episode, Rajeswari Sengupta joins Suyash Rai to evaluate the health of India’s financial sector. Together, they assess the impact of the second wave on India's financial sector. What measures can be taken to address some of its main issues? And finally, what does the health of the financial sector mean for the broader economy? Rajeswari Sen…
 
Note: Milan’s interview with Arora Akanksha took place on June 18. On June 19, the United Nations General Assembly formally approved a second term for the incumbent António Guterres—officially bringing the selection process to a close. Earlier this month, the United Nations Security Council recommended the reelection of António Guterres as secretar…
 
In India, there are growing signs that the country is slowly exiting the second wave of the COVID crisis as people get back to work, localities lift lockdown restrictions, and markets reopen. But the second wave leaves behind a trail of devastation, loss, and widespread anger. And Indians may not have much time to enjoy a return to normalcy, as gov…
 
Zaha Hassan and Nicolas Blarel join Carnegie India's Shibani Mehta to discuss the Israel-Palestine conflict. On May 10th, a raid on the Al Aqsa mosque by the Israeli police left hundreds of Palestinians injured. This cascaded into a war between Israel and Hamas. The ensuing violence has led to hundreds of casualties. A tenuous ceasefire has for now…
 
A troubling surge in hate crimes and discrimination targeting Asian Americans has hit the headlines in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The violence has cast a newfound spotlight on the bigotry many Asian immigrant populations experience in the United States. While Indian Americans have not borne the brunt of the discrimination of the COVID era, …
 
This week on the show, Milan is joined by Grand Tamasha news round-up regulars Sadanand Dhume of the American Enterprise Institute and the Wall Street Journal and Tanvi Madan of the Brookings Institution. This week, Milan, Sadanand, and Tanvi discuss the political state of affairs in India in the wake of recent state elections, the foreign policy r…
 
Alex Tabarrok joins Anirudh Burman to discuss if the existing law on patents is affecting India’s ability to vaccinate its citizens. As India battles a devastating second wave of Covid-19, many advocate for a waiver of intellectual property rights on coronavirus vaccines. However, some argue that this might be an incomplete solution; on its own, a …
 
In the early 1990s, India legislated sweeping new gender quotas in local government in the hopes that women’s political empowerment would help to rectify centuries-old social and economic inequalities. But, despite these moves, we know surprisingly little about whether and how quotas have undone entrenched social, political, and economic hierarchie…
 
One of the enduring puzzles about the tragic second wave of COVID is how India, the world’s largest vaccine producer, faces an alarming shortage of vaccines. A new essay by the journalist Samanth Subramanian for the online news organization Quartz argues that there’s no single answer, but rather a “timeline of dysfunction” marked by what he calls “…
 
In this episode, Srikanth Viswanathan joins Anirudh Burman to assess India's urban governance structures in the face of the second wave of the covid-19 pandemic. In the second wave, states have been given more leeway in handling the pandemic within their borders. How are states and local authorities equipped to manage the situation? Srikanth is the…
 
More than fifteen years ago, India’s parliament passed a sweeping piece of legislation known as the Right to Information Act—a law that transforms the way ordinary citizens access the inner workings of government, offering them an unprecedented glimpse into how policy is made, how funds are allocated, and how interests are served. A new book by the…
 
On Sunday, the highly anticipated results from five state assembly elections across India were announced. These results come at a time of great uncertainty in India as the country is in the throes of a devastating second wave of the coronavirus, which is racking up nearly 400,000 new cases every day. To help make sense of these elections and how th…
 
In this episode, Yogendra Kumar joins Deep Pal to analyze the state of the international order. The conclusion of the Cold War in 1991 heralded a new age of peace and prosperity under the leadership of Western powers. Yet, there remain several problems that plague the international system. What can be done to stem the decay of the international ord…
 
It has been a harrowing week for India. The country is reeling under the effects of a devastating second wave of the coronavirus, which is responsible for more than 300,000 new cases a day and more than 2,000 fatalities. And these official numbers are almost certainly a dramatic undercount. To understand what is driving this new second wave of the …
 
This month, voters are going to the polls in five Indian states to select the members of their respective state assemblies. These polls are being seen as a test of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity and the ability of the Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to grow or further consolidate its popularity in the eastern and southern parts of …
 
Pinaki Chakraborty, Director NIPFP, joins Carnegie India's Suyash Rai to analyze India’s fiscal responses to the pandemic. Together, they assess how India’s fiscal policy to tackle the pandemic has fared so far. What fiscal measures may be taken to boost economic output? What are some of the prominent obstacles likely to hinder these efforts? Furth…
 
Most people who work on India regularly refer to India as the world’s largest democracy and the most enduring democracy in the developing world. However, they often have to footnote such statements with the caveat that India experienced a twenty-one-month period of Emergency Rule in the late 1970s during which democracy was placed in cold storage. …
 
Few regions of the world have gotten more attention in the first few months of the Biden administration than Asia. And, within Asia, top leaders from Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to President Joe Biden himself have singled out the importance of the Indo-Pacific region in particular. To discuss why this regi…
 
The Biden administration has been in office for just a little over two months but India has already emerged as an important foreign policy priority for the president and his new team. But what do the United States and India seek to do together? What is the significance of this month’s leadership-level Quad summit? And, at a time when democracy is u…
 
What would a cashless India and world look like? Jonathan Dharmapalan joins Carnegie India's Rajesh Bansal to shed light on Central Bank Digital Currencies, which are meant to act as a replacement for cash. Together, they unpack what digital currencies are, and how they could affect the way we transact. As founder and CEO of eCurrency, Jonathan Dha…
 
Rasputin, Lucifer, Evil Genius, Sombre Porcupine, The World’s Most Hated Diplomat. These are just some of the choice names that people have given for the former diplomat and politician V.K. Krishna Menon. Menon is, in many ways, one of the most consequential figures in post-Independence India and he is the subject of a recent book by the politician…
 
This week on the podcast, Milan is joined once more by Grand Tamasha “news round-up” regulars Sadanand Dhume of the American Enterprise Institute and the Wall Street Journal and Tanvi Madan of the Brookings Institution. This week, the trio discuss three topics: last week’s heads-of-state summit of the “Quad” countries; recent, controversial assessm…
 
The contested borders between India, China, and Pakistan render the Himalayas one of the world’s most dangerous geopolitical flashpoints in the year 2021. A new book by the journalist Myra MacDonald, White as the Shroud: India, Pakistan and War on the Frontiers of Kashmir, takes readers inside the long-simmering conflict over the Siachen glacier—on…
 
In September 2020, Indian lawmakers approved three controversial agriculture bills amidst an uproar on the floor of Parliament. That uproar would soon manifest outside of Parliament as tens of thousands of farmers took to the streets on the outskirts of Delhi to protest the passage of these laws. Today, the government and the farmers are locked in …
 
One night in the summer of 2014, two teenage girls living in a remote village in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh went missing. Hours later, they were found dead and hanging from a tree in a mango orchard. A media frenzy ensued that propelled the case to the front pages of national newspapers and prime time cable news. It was quickly decided…
 
As a new administration takes office in Washington, followers of the U.S.-India relationship are eagerly anticipating what shape ties between these two nations will take under a new president. A new book by the journalist Meenakshi Ahamed, A Matter of Trust: India–US Relations from Truman to Trump, offers a sweeping portrait of this relationship ov…
 
Mekhala Krishnamurthy joins Srinath Raghavan to analyze India’s agricultural sector, its markets, and the impact of the new farms laws. Can these laws effectively tackle the main issues prevalent in India’s agrarian economy? Why have these laws stoked so much protest across certain farmer groups? And finally, how shall the agricultural landscape ch…
 
Indian Americans are now the second-largest immigrant group in the United States. Their growing political influence and their courtship by the Indian government raises important—as yet unanswered—questions. How do Indians in America regard India, and how do they remain connected to developments there? What are their attitudes toward Indian politics…
 
On Monday, the Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented one of the most highly anticipated Indian budgets in recent memory. Facing a global health pandemic, a severe economic slowdown, and continued anxieties over inflation, some commentators argued that this budget was not simply the most important of the Modi government’s tenure, it w…
 
Tanvi Madan joins Srinath Raghavan to discuss the Biden administration, its composition, and how this might have an effect on U.S.-India relations. References: View: The Modi government will find a Biden presidency to be less volatile by Tanvi Madan For Delhi, US election result is consequential in terms of how the next administration approaches Ch…
 
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