MODI AND THE REINVENTION OF INDIAN FOREIGN POLICY | Ian Hall
When Narendra Modi took charge as Prime Minister in 2014, India had suffered a ‘lost decade’ in policymaking, including foreign policy. Economic weakness and a fractious coalition left little attention for crafting foreign policy. Modi, in contrast, was in the command of a strong Government and displayed tremendous energy. Yet, according to Ian Hall, a professor of international relations at Griffith University in Australia, the result is a mixed bag. Modi has not been able to fundamentally alter the bearings of Indian foreign policy even if he has displayed considerable energy in pursuing this goal. India’s longstanding institutional weaknesses and, more controversially, ideological issues have prevented this.
THE NARROW CORRIDOR: STATES, SOCIETIES AND THE FATE OF LIBERTY | Daron Acemoglu and James A Robinson
Why are some countries effortlessly able to blend liberal democracy with effective government while others flounder for a long time or are never able to get the equation right? Acemoglu and Robinson explain this divergence as a result of powerful states lording over weak societies or societies overwhelming states, leaving the latter incapable of even basic functions. So how do countries escape these extremes? The Red Queen effect—a parable borrowed from Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass—lies at the heart of the story. States and societies have to keep up with each other, leaving a very narrow corridor in which neither overpowers the other. It is in that thin band that liberty survives.
CAPITALISM, ALONE | Branko Milanovic
Capitalism, the dominant organising principle of economic life for the last two centuries, has always been in trouble. On the one hand, it has been challenged by rivals like socialism and fascism and on the other, it barely manages to keep the people’s disquiet in check. Every now and then, its demise seems just around the corner. Branko Milanovic demolishes these illusions in his book. His claim is simple: there are no rivals to capitalism; there are only rival forms of it. The competition now is between the liberal, Western variety and the authoritarian Chinese version that many countries are trying to adopt.
POLITICS AND THE ANTHROPOCENE | Duncan Kelly
Climate change is a reality that is yet to dawn on politicians and political systems everywhere. While the environment continues to rush towards a point of no return—and for the worse—the political world continues as ever. Duncan Kelly takes a systematic look at what will happen to peoples, populations and how we measure value in a very different and difficult world. He also looks at inequalities from the perspective of ecological inheritance of different societies.
ON FREEDOM | Cass R Sunstein
Nothing can go wrong from freedom is a credo and not a statement of fact. The last century has elevated it to ideological certainty. Sunstein’s book is a detailed parsing of what free choice means and the contradictions it entails. His conclusion is sombre and leaves much to think about the freedom of choice.