Personality Cults and Democratic Decline, Ramachandra Guha

Event time: 
Thursday, October 6, 2022 - 4:30pm to 5:30pm
Henry R. Luce Hall (LUCE ), 202 See map
34 Hillhouse Avenue
New Haven, CT 06511
Event description: 

The George Herbert Walker, Jr. Lecture in International Studies presents
Ramachandra Cuha
Personality Cults and Democratic Decline
4:30 pm Thursday, October 6, 2022
Henry R. Luce Hall, Rm 202, 34 Hillhouse Ave, New Haven, CT
Personality cults have been characteristic of totalitarian regimes of the left and right, as for example Mussolini’s Italy, Hitler’s Germany, Stalin’s Russia, and Mao’s China. However, in recent decades such cults have arisen in democratic or partially democratic regimes too, in countries such as Hungary, Turkey, and even the United States. This lecture will examine the consequences of democratic functioning of the centralization of power and authority in a single individual. While comparative in nature, it will focus especially on India, which has long been upheld as the world’s largest democracy and is soon to be the most populous nation in the world. In its seventy-five-year history, India has known two major cults of personality, that of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in the 1970s and that of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the present. The lecture will examine how these cults have undermined institutions such as the press, the civil service, the judiciary, and the political party. The consequences for economic prosperity and social harmony shall also be investigated.
Ramachandra Guha is a historian and biographer who is currently Distinguished University Professor at Krea University. He has previously taught at Stanford University, the Indian Institute of Science, and the London School of Economics. His books include a pioneering environmental history, The Unquiet Woods (University of California Press, 1989), an award-winning social history of cricket, A Corner of a Foreign Field (Picador, 2002), and a widely acclaimed history of his country, India after Gandhi (Macmillan/Ecco Press, 2007) He is also the author of a two-volume biography of Mahatma Gandhi (Gandhi Before India, 2014, and Gandhi: The Years that Changed the World, 2018, both published by Knopf), each of which was chosen as a book of the year by the New York Times. His most recent book is Rebels against the Raj (Knopf, 2022). His books and
essays have been translated into more than twenty languages.
Guha’s awards include the Leopold-Hidy Prize of the American Society of Environmental History, the Howard Milton Prize of the British Society for Sports History, the Sahitya Akademi Award, and the Fukuoka Prize for contributions to Asian studies. He is the recipient of an honorary doctorate in the humanities from Yale University.

Ramachandra Guha