Sonia Faleiro is a journalist and the author, most recently, of Beautiful Thing: Inside the Secret World of Bombay’s Dance Bars (2011); her next book, The Good Girls: Love and Death in a Village in India, is forthcoming from Grove Atlantic/Bloomsbury. (July 2019)
The rot may have set in decades ago, but it has taken Modi only five years to dismantle the idea of India as democratic and secular. The opposition movement is fragmentary and local. India under Modi was no longer the world’s fastest-growing economy. And whatever upward mobility was anticipated thanks to social welfare programs implemented by earlier governments could no longer be taken for granted. The prime minister’s opponents fought for a more equal society, but Modi himself, like strongmen elsewhere in the world, could only prosper in an unequal and divided one. And yet, Modi won again: a divisive and ineffectual prime minister returned to power with a historic mandate.