India’s Political Economy and The Incidence of Civil Strife





Module Code

India’s Political Economy and The Incidence of Civil Strife

Political Realism assumes that power is the primary end of political action both in domestic and
International spaces. Domestically, the theory argues that politicians do, or should, maximise their
power, reducing the political-ethical principle to ‘might is right’.
Niccolò Machiavelli in his political essay, ‘The Prince’ outlines how to acquire power and more
importantly, how to keep it. In this outline, he puts forth steps for a successful ruler. For instance,
‘Princes’ are told to consider all atrocities necessary to seize power, and to commit them for future
stability. Oppressing religious minorities, like the Protestant community in Italy at that time, is
mentioned as an effective way to occupy the public. Machiavelli advises maintaining a virtuous
appearance such as honesty, but one should be ready to abandon them as soon as their interests are
threatened. He also writes, "it is much safer for a ruler to be feared than loved.” Machiavelli,
therefore, presents a vision of political rule that is free from moral influences and is founded solely
on the potent use of power.
The reason an essay written in 1513, is still talked about today is how its teachings continue to exist
in today's politics. Isaiah Berlin, a philosopher, claims that ‘The Prince’, in contemporary times,
rather than being amoral, puts the prestige of the state above individual salvation. BJP’s, for
instance, style of rule mirrors the ideals laid out by Machiavelli on certain levels. To begin with,
there have been growing tensions between the Hindu community and almost every other minority
religious community in the country. The citizenship laws and the Ramjanmbhoomi movement are
cases in point for growing tensions. Adding to these, the economy had been falling which for the
most part has affected only the lower-income families while big businesses are flourishing because
of the policy changes that had been in the favour of Indian Capitalists. The annual GDP of India has

been falling since the year 2015 and, interestingly, at the same time, the richest Indians have
accumulated wealth that is greater than the union budget.
This method of governance creates, Machiavelli’s ideals to flourish under India’s situation as it only
makes the BJP’s hold stronger come voting time. This is because it creates an ‘us vs. them’
narrative between religious communities which the BJP then plays out as an ‘Indian vs. others’.
This narrative and the weakening of the opposition have played part in deepening social cleavages
based on religion, language and culture. As shown in the ‘median voter theorem’ by Anthony
Downs, this strategy gets those extra votes from the people who do not want to dissociate with the
bigger idea of the nation. This is also effective because as ‘The Prince suggests, “it is much safer
for a ruler to be feared than loved.” The BJP has done a good job of establishing that fear through
changes in law like the amendments in the UAPA act and the RTI Act, the Citizenship Amendment
Act. The current government's style of rule has given the government more power and created an
environment of enmity between religious communities. These events have put India in a peculiar
condition which might lead the country to an inevitable struggle.
Karl Marx’s ‘Conflict Theory’ explains that a series of modes of production, composed by forces of
production, the proletariat or the common people, and the relations of production, the bourgeoisie or
the ruling class or the capitalists, develop together until they eventually come into conflict leading
to a revolution by the oppressed class. Max Weber, a German sociologist, believes that there are
multiple levels of conflicts in every society, at any given time. With all possibilities laid out by
Marx’s ‘Conflict Theory’ and historical materialism, India might be moving towards an internal
struggle to drive societal change which by all probability will be violent. The situations in Kashmir,
The anti-CAA protests and Bengaluru Riots in August over a social media post by a Congress MLA
serve as cases in point.