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Radical Democracy in Modern Indian Political Thought

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A polling station in Delhi during India's first general elections, January 1952. (Image courtesy of ; public domain.)

Tejas Parasher, Assistant Professor of Political Theory, UCLA

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Between the 1910s and the 1970s, an eclectic group of Indian thinkers, constitutional reformers, and political activists articulated a theory of robustly democratic, participatory popular sovereignty. Taking parliamentary government and the modern nation-state to be prone to corruption, these thinkers advocated for ambitious federalist projects of popular government as alternatives to liberal, representative democracy. Radical Democracy in Modern Indian Political Thought is the first study of this counter-tradition of democratic politics in South Asia. Examining well-known historical figures such as Dadabhai Naoroji, M. K. Gandhi, and M. N. Roy alongside long-neglected thinkers from the Indian socialist movement, Tejas Parasher illuminates the diversity of political futures imagined at the end of the British Empire in South Asia. This book reframes the history of twentieth-century anti-colonialism in novel terms – as a contest over the nature of modern political representation – and pushes readers to rethink accepted understandings of democracy today.


Order Radical Democracy in Modern Indian Political Thought from Cambridge University Press.



Tejas Parasher is Assistant Professor of Political Theory in the Department of Political Science and at the UCLA International Institute. His research focuses on the subfield of comparative political thought, examining the institutional and historiographical questions involved in writing global histories of democracy and popular sovereignty. His first book, Radical Democracy in Modern Indian Political Thought, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2023.

Prior to joining UCLA, Tejas was Junior Research Fellow in Political Thought and Intellectual History at the University of Cambridge. He received his PhD in Political Science from the University of Chicago in 2019 and his BA Hons. (High Distinction) from the University of Toronto in 2013.

Tejas is a recipient of the American Political Science Association’s 2020 Leo Strauss Award for Best Dissertation in Political Philosophy and the University of Chicago’s 2015 Joseph Cropsey Prize in Political Philosophy.


Leslie Johns is a professor of political science and law at UCLA. She is also Associate Director of the Burkle Center for International Relations.

Her research focuses on international law, organizations, and political economy.

In 2022, Cambridge University Press published her newest book,
Politics and International Law: Making, Breaking, and Upholding Global Rules. You can access related news stories on the book's Twitter account: @PoliticsIntlLaw

Her work appears in the American Political Science Review, International Organization, Journal of Conflict Resolution and the Journal of Politics. Her first book–
Strengthening International Courts: The Hidden Costs of Legalization–was published in 2015 by the University of Michigan Press. She received the Michael Wallerstein Award for political economy in 2017.

She is a former term member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and a former research fellow at the Niehaus Center for Globalization and Governance at Princeton University (2012-2013 and 2021-2022).