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Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
May 2024
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Book description

If right-populists have had enough of establishment experts, how do they replace them, with whom, and to what effect? Presenting the first in-depth analysis of India's new intellectual elite in the wake of a Hindu supremacist government, The New Experts investigates the power of appointed experts in normalising ideologies of governance, beyond party rhetoric. The New Experts presents an accessible narrative of how and why particular ideas gain prominence in elite policy and political discourse. Drawing on in-depth interviews and ethnographic research with national and international policy makers, politicians, bureaucrats, consultants, and journalists, this book analyses how political leaders in India strategically use modes of populist spectacle and established technocratic institutions to produce shared visions of glorified technological and hyper-nationalist futures. This title is part of the Flip it Open Programme and may also be available open access. Check our website Cambridge Core for details.


‘The New Experts explores a fundamental tension in the realm of democratic politics and fills a major void in the study of Indian politics by focusing on think tanks, consulting firms, government advisory groups, among others. A must-read for anyone interested in understanding how ‘technocratic imagination’ and ‘populist mobilisation’ is fuelling the BJP’s New India project.’

Rahul Verma - co-author of Ideology and Identity and Fellow at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi

‘What sustains Hindutva’s hold on different sections of India’s Hindu society? In this important work, Anuradha Sajjanhar investigates the ‘intellectual’ pillars that support the Hindutva edifice in contemporary India. This work connects the dots between populist discourse unleashed by the party and a set of think tanks that are connected to or sympathetic to the Hindutva project. These ‘new experts’ seek to combine ideas of Hindutva and development, facilitating the reach of the party beyond its core constituency. This work is an important addition to Hindutva studies, particularly in understanding the operational dimension of Hindutva beyond its shrill rhetoric.’

Suhar Palshikar - political scientist and Chief Editor, Studies in Indian Politics

‘Arguing against the notion that technocracy and populism constitute contradictory forces, Anuradha Sajjanhar makes a far-reaching and new contribution to several literatures by demonstrating how populist politics and technocratic policy in India go hand in hand in a mutually reinforcing matrimony. This union creates a ‘tech-enhanced’ populist regime that can combine a depoliticized discourse on policy while serving a deeply ideological political project. This book sheds new light on how the BJP manages to stay in power by building new social coalitions, with the help of a new class of experts. This book will be of singular interest to scholars of Indian politics, nationalism, populism, and to those studying the right-wing in power.’

Gilles Verniers - political scientist and Karl Loewenstein Fellow, Amherst College

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