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Populist Welfarism in India: How Modi Relates to the Poor


Since 2014, Narendra Modi has got some electoral support from the poor Hindus by cultivating his image as a plebeian. This strategy combined two dimensions: first it relied on Modi’s personal background and compassionate style; second, it found expression in welfare programs that did not imply any monetary transfers, but were supposed to testify that Prime Minister Modi was paying attention to the poor. Yet most policies were not in favor of the plebeians. In fact, Modi was supported by groups who apprehended the rise of plebeians and who supported the BJP because its Hindu nationalist ideology offered the right antidote: the plebeians were now requested to forget about caste and class and to think of themselves as Hindu first. Elite groups benefited from the Modi regime in many different ways. The upper castes regained their hegemony in the government and the rich became richer, partly because of a socially unjust fiscal policy. By contrast, peasants were affected by the post-2014 dispensation which displayed an urban bias.
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hal-03605825 , version 1 (11-03-2022)



Christophe Jaffrelot. Populist Welfarism in India: How Modi Relates to the Poor. Contemporary Populists in Power, Palgrave Macmillan, pp.211-234, 2022, The Sciences Po Series in International Relations and Political Economy, 9783030840785. ⟨10.1007/978-3-030-84079-2_12⟩. ⟨hal-03605825⟩
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