India Policy Initiative


The India Policy Initiative is based in Washington, D.C., and educates U.S. policymakers on issues related to democracy in India.

India’s democracy is the largest in the world, and recently it has seen a decline in global indices that measure the strength of certain norms and practices. Areas of concern include freedom of the press, judicial independence, and protection of minorities. Economic stagnation has compounded these problems, and U.S. companies — including technology firms — have reported difficulties navigating India’s sensitive landscape.

Failure to address such issues may pose risks to economic prosperity, geopolitical stability, and the U.S.-India strategic partnership. To understand these risks and propose constructive solutions, India Policy will host dialogues and publish original policy research to keep stakeholders informed of key domestic developments in India, including those that can impact bilateral ties. By supporting India’s democracy, policymakers can ensure the U.S.-India relationship continues to reach new heights.


The India Policy Commentary Series features original insights from scholars, practitioners, and other experts on Indian democracy and the U.S.-India relationship.

April 6, 2023
Two-Front War: The Spectral Versus Actual Threat for India
Many analysts look to the possibility of a two-front war as one of India’s greatest strategic risks. Yogesh Joshi reexamines this claim, placing India’s relations with Pakistan and China in context, and considering how issues facing Indian democracy represent a neglected area of of strategic analysis.

Feb. 20, 2023
The U.S.-India Relationship: Of Acquiescence and Activism
Scholars Šumit Ganguly, Dinsha Mistree, and Larry Diamond team up to assess the U.S.-India relationship and the state of Indian democracy therein, offering advice for American policymakers looking to strengthen bilateral ties while promoting democratic values.

Feb. 16, 2023  
Diminished Rights but Robust Competition: Challenging Conventional Wisdom on India’s Democratic Backsliding
Two narratives are common in discussions on elections and democracy in India: that the Bharatiya Janata Party is unstoppable and that Indian democracy is backsliding. In this piece, Adam Ziegfeld challenges these narratives, indicating that rising illiberalism can coincide with competitive elections, and points towards what the future of Indian democracy may look like. 

Feb. 15, 2023  
Democracy Promotion in a Time of War
What does it mean for the West to use foreign aid to promote democracy, especially under the shadow of Ukraine? Bann Seng Tan uses the case of India to demonstrate the strategic calculus which countries like the U.S. have at their disposal for democracy promotion in the face of the Russo-Ukrainian War and increasing risks to global democracy writ large. 

Feb. 15, 2023
Indian Democracy in Strategic Perspective: Q&A with Sushant Singh
India Policy sits down with Sushant Singh to cover a range of questions on the strategic implications of India and its democracy given the country’s position on Ukraine, changing India-China ties, and regional stability. 

Feb. 10, 2023
What Democratic Backsliding Means for India: A Q&A with V-Dem’s Director and Program Manager
Following their 2022 report on the global state of democracy which described rising autocratization around the world, V-Dem’s Natalia Natsika and Prof. Staffan I. Lindberg discuss their assessment of India in this Q&A with The Carter Center’s India Policy initiative.

Feb. 9, 2023
What Kind of Neighbor is India Becoming?
The impact of a country’s democratic health is often measured by its domestic effects. But how might a country’s democracy, especially if facing risks, have implications for its neighborhood? Yelena Biberman explores this question, among others, in this piece examining the relationship between India’s democratic health and its geopolitics.

Feb. 9, 2023
Rising Rule of Law Risks in India
How does India fare in the latest data from the World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index 2022? Ted Piccone, nonresident senior fellow at Brookings, considers rising risks to India’s rule of law in the face of the country’s democratic backsliding.

Dec. 9, 2022
Democracy and the Political Dominance of the Bharatiya Janata Party
Political scientist Anjali Thomas unpacks the diverse means through which India’s Hindu nationalist party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, has cultivated electoral strength and what implications this has for Indian democracy.

Dec. 8, 2022
Groundwork for Democratic Partnership: President Carter and U.S.-India Ties
The Carter Center CEO Paige Alexander reflects on the role that President Jimmy Carter has played in ensuring democratic values remain fundamental to the U.S.-India relationship.

Nov. 18, 2022
Containing Illiberalism: the U.S.-India Partnership and the Ukraine War
How should American policymakers think about recent developments in India around democracy and Ukraine? Political scientist Harry Verhoeven examines whether the U.S.’s conception of global geopolitics makes sense given rising illiberalism in India and diverging positions on Ukraine.

Nov. 4, 2022
How Supporting Democracy Benefits the U.S.-India Partnership
In this joint commentary with CSIS, the Carter Center’s Vice President of Peace Programs, Barbara Smith, and Khosravi Chair in Principled Internationalism and Director of the Human Rights Initiative at CSIS, Marti Flacks, discuss that shared democratic values in the U.S.-India Partnership are not secondary to commercial ties but also bolster them.

Oct. 27, 2022
The Strategic Context of the Enduring India-Russia Friendship
What is the future of India-Russia ties? Yale scholars David Engerman and Sandeep Bhardwaj
look into past relations to imagine a path ahead—the 1st article in a series by The Carter Center’s new India Policy initiative.

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