On 5 December 2023, the Institute of Commonwealth Studies (ICwS) held a round table event in Senate House on the 2023 state elections and the state of democracy in India.

Beyond analysing the election results and the issues and policy areas that influenced campaigning, subjects discussed included how competitive Indian elections still were and the role played by political financing and the media (including social media). Participants also considered how well institutions intended to ensure free and fair elections in the world’s largest democracy were functioning, the implications of the BJP’s dominance in national elections for Indian federalism, and India’s changing political culture. 

The hybrid discussion was introduced and chaired by Dr James Chiriyankandath, Senior Research Fellow. Dr Rekha Diwakar (University of Sussex) analysed the results of the elections in four of the states that went to the polls in November – Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Telangana. Professor Louise Tillin (King’s India Institute, King’s College London) focused particularly on the significance of welfare policy in the elections in Rajasthan. Dr Simona Vittorini (School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London) spoke about the ongoing transformation of the built environment of state institutions, especially in New Delhi, the national capital, under the Modi government. 

Other participants in the round table included Professor Kingsley Abbott, Institute Director,  Professor James Manor, Senior Research Fellow, Dr Diego Maiorano (University of Naples, L’Orientale), Dr Andrew Wyatt (University of Bristol), Dr Dishil Shrimankar (University of Manchester), Professor Katharine Adeney (University of Nottingham), Dr R Santhosh (Indian Institute of Technology, Madras), Dr Kiran Hassan, Coordinator of the Institute’s Freedom of Expression and Digital Rights Project, and Dr Balasubramanyam Chandramohan, Senior Research Fellow.