Open Minds 2017: Public Square

Milan Vaishnav, Author

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Political Cleansing

He has come closest to what others have tried to crack earlier: tracking the link between crime and politics in India. Vaishnav, senior fellow, South Asia Program at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, has explored the underlying causes of criminality and how tainted politicians thrive despite new transparency laws in his book, When Crime Pays.

“Milan has explored, with unprecedented rigour and acuity, the phenomenon of why criminal politicians get elected. His work is empirically and theoretically rich and original” - Pratap Bhanu Mehta, president, Centre for Policy Research

His field work in states such as Bihar and Andhra Pradesh threshes out reasons why the rich and infamous call the shots in politics, even as our democracy is feted as a global miracle. His observations on the cost of running a democracy are as incisive as they’re eye-opening. So are his remarks. “While [Modi] is compared to Indira, he aims to be more like Nehru. Just as Nehru put his stamp on India’s developmental ethos of the post- Independence era, Modi wishes to do the same for the 21st century.”

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