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Populism and Policies: Implications for the Welfare of Muslim Minorities in India

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Abstract for Online Program Book (maximum 1200 characters including spaces)

Although Hindu majoritarian rhetoric has come to predominate much of the political discourse at the national level in Modi era India, in recent years a number of policies and schemes have been advanced with the intention of addressing the material disadvantages of India’s minority groups, including Muslims centrally. Based on analysis of the outcomes of similar policy initiatives in the recent past, this paper argues that the programs and schemes aimed today at getting Muslim communities out of the deprivation trap may be characterized as politically expedient tokenism or policy populism, rather than as genuine efforts to elevate religious minorities to equal socioeconomic status. With pejorative accusations of “minority appeasement” currently embedded in public discourse and debates, political mobilization along ethno-majoritarian lines has reinforced exclusion of minorities in India in more blatant ways, as has come to international attention in recent years. In addition to highlighting the performance of recent policy initiatives, this paper discusses how the majoritarian turn in Indian politics has further exacerbated the exclusion of Muslim communities.

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