Salvatore Babones ON Media Bias, Religious Politics, and Challenges Facing Indian Democracy

Salvatore Babones Headshot


In this episode, distinguished sociologist, Salvatore Babones help us understand Indian democracy’s complexities. This conversation spans the positive aspects and challenges within India’s democratic framework, voter influence through media and political campaigns, and the significant role of religious politics. Salvatore provides a balanced critique on the potential risks to India’s democratic integrity, highlighting the impact of biased information sources and the contentious nature of religious and political narratives. From dissecting how elections are swayed to discussing the potential erosion of democratic values amidst rising communal tensions, this episode offers a panoramic view of the forces shaping India’s future.

About the guest-

Salvatore Babones is an associate professor at the University of Sydney and executive director of the Indian Century Roundtable. He is a quantitative comparative sociologist whose current research focuses on the political sociology of democracy.

In the past he has also published on economic development in post-socialist transition economies and quantitative methods for cross-national comparisons.

He is the author or editor of fourteen books and several dozen academic research articles. He earned his MS (statistics) and PhD (sociology) from the Johns Hopkins University. He is currently researching a book on Indian democracy.

Shownotes -


00:00:00  – Episode and Guest Introduction

00:01:35 – Prof. Salvatore’s fascination with Indian democracy

00:05:55 –  Role of English in India & impact on political & social structures

00:13:45 – Biggest challenges facing the Indian democracy

00:17:35 – Economic Leadership: Manmohan Singh vs Narendra Modi

00:19:45 – BJP’s anti-democratic moves and should we be concerned?

00:23:55 – How voters are influenced

00:28:00 – Dispelling the myth of rising communal violence

00:38:50 – Understanding the vote bank politics

00:43:00 – What drives voting behaviour

00:46:20 – Resources for understanding Indian political & social dynamics

00:49:30 – The media and academia bias 

00:55:00 – Handling combative interviews with grace

00:58:50 – Democratic integrity in a global context

Resources + Guest Info

[00:00:00] Krati: I know that you are currently focused very much on the Indian democracy, so I would love to know what fascinates you about the Indian democracy, and what other governments or democracies fascinate you and that you think ought to be studied more?

[00:00:13] Salvatore: My background is in studying post socialist transition economies and I originally came to India for the study of its economy. In fact, I co-authored a BRICS book in, I believe it was 2016, called ‘BRICS or Bust?’ with Stanford University Press with the late economist Hartmut Elsenhans, and I’ve written articles and books about middle income post-socialist transition economies for years now.

[00:00:37] What really caught me about India was that although I wanted to study the economy and my initial articles were all about the economy, everyone agreed with me on the economy. It was different from China. I mean, I was, I studied in the economy and I thought as reform continues, India’s economy is bound to continue to grow and that it’s, you know, about 12 years behind China and its growth curve.

[00:01:00] And that India’s growth will continue at least until 2035, after which we need to start re-benchmarking what policies exist in 2035, but that was pushing on an open door as opposed to work on China, which was very much against the consensus. I had been writing more than a decade ago that China’s growth would stall by 2020 and everyone at the time thought I was crazy for saying that.

[00:01:23] But of course, China’s growth has stalled.

[00:01:26] So I really was not particularly interested in India’s politics. I had read the academic articles that said India was a miracle democracy. I thought that was interesting, but not particularly interesting and then, what got me looking at the democracy was all these reports of India’s democracy and decline. Because you know, I had been learning for decades that India was, you know, the only poor country in the world that had run a successful democracy. What was all this talk about democracy and decline? And so I started looking at the [00:02:00] indices and again, my own statistical expertise is on the analysis of country data

[00:02:06] and their use in benchmarking and studying levels of development, you know, across countries. So writing about the indices was exactly in my own statistical training. I wrote a book called Methods for quantitative macro comparative research. It’s a mouthful, but if you want to get it, it’s there on Amazon.

[00:02:23] And so I started looking at the indices and I found that the democracy indices were very poorly constructed and so this started with the makings of a book that India has always been recognised to be a well governed democracy. Yet the indices are rating India now very badly. What most people don’t realise is that the VDEM index on which India rates very low, 110th in the world, didn’t exist until 2017.

[00:02:50] So if you were studying India up until 2017, all your information was that India is one of the world’s best democracies. We only quote [00:03:00] unquote found out that India was a bad democracy in 2017. And of course it only got worse since then on VDEM. So I switched over, you know, it leverages my expertise on indices and on statistical methods for the use of country data.

[00:03:15] But also it’s just fascinating to get involved and what’s been really just a fantastic opportunity for me is that nearly all of the source material on Indian democracy is in English. Today’s secondary literature is in English. All the podcasts, not everyone, but dozens of podcasts are in English. The major news sites in India are in English.

[00:03:37] But more importantly, Ambedkar wrote in English. Prasad wrote in English. Nehru wrote in English. Jinnah gave speeches in English. Savarkar wrote in English. You know, Subhash Chandra Bose wrote in English, his brother wrote in English, the constituent assembly debates were in English. When Nehru gave his speech at midnight on, you know, [00:04:00] midnight, August 14, 15 1947, of course he gave it in English.

[00:04:04] So what was wonderful for me was that I was able to go through, for myself without having to rely on secondary sources, all of the primary source material on Indian democracy. And with very few exceptions, it’s accessible. So it’s been just a great intellectual pleasure studying Indian democracy for the last five years.

[00:04:24] Krati: Yeah, but that feels a little embarrassing that we would prioritise another language over our own and that is a real problem in India. Parents talk to their children, even in their homes, in English, even in malls, they’re talking to them in English, and they feel embarrassed if they can’t speak in English, that’s a little sad.

[00:04:44] And I think that is one of the barriers for people who are not educated or not educated from English medium schools. That is the issue they have with understanding what’s actually going on because, as you said, if you can’t access the primary information [00:05:00] sources, how are you ever going to you know, build on your knowledge and understand what’s happening in your country?

[00:05:06] Salvatore: It’s a problem, but first it’s an inevitable problem. I don’t have to explain to you though. I may have to explain to some of your listeners that there was no consensus around any other language at the time of independence. The constituent assembly punted on the issue and created a language commission that was supposed to solve the problem within 15 years.

[00:05:23] And the Language Commission is still doing its work, you know 75, 77, 78 years later there simply was no consensus on any other language. When Radhakrishnan gave his talk, and he was the major speaker at midnight on August 14th, when he gave his address, he gave it in English, not because he was making a political statement necessarily.

[00:05:45] He didn’t speak Hindi. So, you know, how can you have a country where your second president, who’s an esteemed philosopher who speaks multiple languages, I mean, he, he wrote, he read Sanskrit. He read multiple [00:06:00] European languages. You know, if your second president is an extraordinarily educated person, but who does not speak Hindi, how can you make Hindi your national language?

[00:06:10] And of course, then there are the political problems of again, you know, primarily South India, not wanting to accept Hindi dominance of the country. Now one solution is to do what Israel did and resurrect a dead language, but with the education levels in India, Sanskrit was simply not going to become the national language of India.

[00:06:29] It was discussed at the time. So the discussions at the time were pretty similar to the discussions that are had now. Yes, it would be ideal if the nation spoke one language, but the nation doesn’t speak one language and the nation is not going to agree on which language to speak. So India becomes a common medium and look, that’s a challenge for India, but it’s also an opportunity for Indians, which is to say that Indians obviously have a much easier time working abroad.

[00:06:56] Indians have a much easier time accessing and [00:07:00] publishing in international journals and international publications. You know, there’s good and bad about it. You know, I can’t tell you what language your country should speak, but I can tell you that there’s simply no reasonable alternative for the foreseeable future than for India’s elite debate to occur in English.

[00:07:17] Krati: My own thinking language is English. I think in English. I see a lot of my people my age trying to correct that and right now I see the Modi government trying to sort of revive Hindi and remind people that it is in fact your national language. You should embrace it.

[00:07:35] They are making some efforts in those direction, which makes me want to ask you what you think are, like there’s a lot that’s happening right now. A lot that’s happening, especially because it’s the election season.

[00:07:46] Salvatore: If I could put a personal and international perspective on this, my name is Salvatore Babonis. That’s an anglicised version. It should be Salvatore Vavonis. My [00:08:00] family’s come from Italy and Greece. Originally, they joined the American project. Now they did it voluntarily. It wasn’t like India being colonised, but they joined this English speaking world voluntarily.

[00:08:12] And of course, we all anglicised our names and, I’m thrilled that my great grandparents decided and my great, great grandparents decided that I would be part of the global world, not part of the Italian or the Greek world, that I wouldn’t live in some village in the Peloponnese, but that I would live in the New York area, right?

[00:08:33] They metropolitanised me. Now that happened voluntarily for us, but it’s also happening in places like Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, where education systems are conducted in English. It’s been a big controversy in Denmark and the Netherlands having universities switched to English rather than being taught in Danish or Dutch, but you know, the countries have gone that way.

[00:08:54] I’ve been in Sweden and heard Swedish teenagers talking in English among [00:09:00] themselves, even though they’re Swedish and there are no international people around. Now, I promise you that by the end of this century, the language of the small countries of Northern Europe is going to be English and languages like Dutch and Danish and Swedish will be taught in schools as a demotic language, as the language of the home, not as the language of the country.

[00:09:22] That India has a leg up on this effort, you may view it as a tragedy that English is the language of business and journalism, whereas the reach of the Hindi and the other actual Indian languages are relegated to the home and the sports field but the world is moving towards having a common tongue.

[00:09:44] I mean, you read any science fiction novel and they’ll all have some variation on the whole galaxy speaks common or the whole galaxy speaks galactic. It only, you know, instead of everybody speaking except hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy that came up with a clever solution of the babble fish in the ear, [00:10:00] but lacking a babble fish, which we don’t have, the English is, I’m sorry to say it, it may sound very imperialistic of me, but I’ve come to peace with it, you know, I’ve made peace with the fact that my ancestors made the decision for me, that I would speak English, not Greek or Italian and the world is simply moving in that direction. English is no longer the language of England.

[00:10:20] It is simply the global language.

[00:10:23] Krati: Yeah. No, I agree. I don’t think it’s a tragedy. I think, it’s fine. It’s just how it is and we have to move with the time and you know, if you want to continue to be part of the progress, I just hope that, you know, just so we can keep reading our scriptures, all of us all over the world, we should be, that’s the only reason

[00:10:41] Salvatore: Oh, call it, call it globish instead of English and the political connotations are gone. Look, Christians don’t read their scriptures in Greek and Aramaic or Hebrew. Christians read their scriptures in English and only specialists can access their original [00:11:00] languages.

[00:10:59] Salvatore: That’s [00:11:00] a you know, that’s the reality of the situation and that’s India’s reality.

[00:11:06] I’m sorry to be very confronting about it, but English is not going to go away. There’s enormous demand for learning English and English penetration is going to increase farther and farther down the social pyramid in India.

[00:11:19] Krati: Absolutely, I agree with that and integration does seem to be something to be prioritised. I think it is in favour of everyone if they focus on it instead of trying to isolate themselves in any respect, be it language or something else.

[00:11:33] Salvatore: I won’t make that argument. I won’t view it as good or bad. I view it as inevitable. That is, I’m speaking as a sociologist, not a moralist. I can see lots of arguments on the one hand why retaining an authentic national experience is desirable, and I can see other arguments why integrating is desirable and I respect people on both sides of that debate. I’m not advising for English. [00:12:00] I’m predicting about English.

[00:12:03] Krati: And that’s exactly why I wanted to talk to you because that is your approach and thank you for making a distinction because a lot of us, we are unable to do so. Emotions do rule a lot of the arguments and right now, we are having a lot of discussions around what is going on in the country because it’s the election season.

[00:12:20] So everything is under the microscope. People are examining everything and trying to understand as much as an ordinary citizen can understand. What do you think are the biggest challenges that are facing Indian democracy right now, considering everything that has happened in the past few months and the shifting opinions about the Modi government?

[00:12:40] Salvatore: People are going to call me a Modi bakht or a BJP bakht because the biggest challenges, from a scientific standpoint, from a pure social scientific standpoint, I’d say the two biggest challenges are the need for a uniform civil code. A democracy requires equality under the law, and Indians don’t [00:13:00] have equality under the law. Democracy requires one person, one vote and India has been frozen at 1971 levels of representation for states, and there have been massive demographic changes since 1971 and those have not been reflected in changes in the Luxaba with the result that, you know, you now have the crazy situation where people in Kerala and Tamil Nadu have, I forget the number.

[00:13:29] You can read my research on it, but it’s something like 1.4 times the representation of people in Bihar, or even, even Delhi is underrepresented because lots of people have moved into Delhi, migrated to Delhi and they don’t get any more representation as a result. So they’re splitting the same representative.

[00:13:50] So those are the two big challenges for Indian democracy. Now, my list of challenges to Indian democracy is entirely different from the critics’ [00:14:00] list of priorities for Indian democracy but I stand by them. Those are the two things that most differentiate India. Other acknowledged democratic countries, all of the other complaints that are made about Indian democracy

[00:14:18] are complaints that are made everywhere, you know, is the press too concentrated? Do academics have enough freedom? Are immigrants properly reflected on poll lists and citizenship lists? You know, these are par for the course for democracies around the world.

[00:14:33] These two issues that I raise, equal representation and equality under the law. Those are basics that every other democracy in the world accepts that India doesn’t have.

[00:14:45] Krati: That is true. I found you to be fair, you know, very fair in the analysis by you that I’ve read so far that I’ve, you know, seen on YouTube, in your articles. So I feel. comfortable asking you this question. I know that there are [00:15:00] people who are, you know, more in favor of one party and less so in favor of the other one.

[00:15:05] And obviously, you know, that happens with all of us, but I feel fairly comfortable asking you this as an ordinary citizen, trying to understand this, there is a shift in opinion, like Modi has done a lot. The Modi government has done a lot and, and the pace at which they have done those things, the changes in infrastructure, the changes with so many of the, it’s been, I, I don’t think we’ve seen that pace ever before.

[00:15:29] but there has been a shift in opinion, or at least there’s been a fear that Modi government, like the word dictator gets thrown around a lot.

[00:15:39] What happened in the wake of the BBC documentary, the way the government reacted what is happening with Kejriwal the freezing accounts and all of these things. So as someone who is studying the government so closely, studying the economy, the politics so closely, what is your opinion? How much should the, should the ordinary citizens be concerned, [00:16:00] be afraid?

[00:16:00] It is a huge democracy. Should we be concerned that we’re gonna lose vital elements of it?

[00:16:04] Salvatore: So here’s my opportunity to upset the Modi and BJP supporters. I’ve already upset the Congress and AAP party supporters. Let me upset the Modi and BJP supporters. India’s record of progress was just as strong under the Manmohan Singh government and the previous 10 years, as they have been under Modi.

[00:16:25] Now I say that quantitatively, the data don’t lie. Growth rates were as strong or stronger. People say, Oh, things get done now that didn’t get done before and I point out, yeah, that’s because India is twice as rich now as it was before and if you say, oh, well, it’s twice as rich because of Modi.

[00:16:39] I say, well, wait a minute, the Manmohan Singh government inherited the Bajpayee, you know problems, right? So India has been growing rapidly for the last 20 years and if people see that growth now, it’s only because of the foundation laid by the previous. U.P.A. [00:17:00] Government, which has now been built on by the N.D.A.

[00:17:03] government. There is no statistical evidence that the rate of delivery has been better or faster now than it was then, unless you want to use it in purely arithmetic terms. So we as social science, we always talk about percentage growth. And so the percentage growth is, you know, 6,7,8 percent per year.

[00:17:20] Now, if you want to say that, well, the growth now, you know, if you had a $1000 economy, the growth of 8 percent was only $80, but now that there’s a $2,000 economy, the economy is growing at $160 a year. Well, that’s, that’s a bit mendacious, right? I mean, the fact is that the economy is larger and so you see more stuff getting done and more stuff is getting done.

[00:17:46] But it’s only because of the previous growth that the other people came in working from a lower base now. So that’s one Modi myth I think we should demolish. The idea that he’s been an extraordinarily good economic [00:18:00] manager simply isn’t reflected in the data. Now that said, he’s not been a bad economic manager.

[00:18:05] He’s been an equally good economic manager as the previous government. Okay, when it comes to these challenges to democracy, I think there have been actions taken by the Modi BJP government, which I view as illiberal and anti democratic. Whether that’s selective prosecutions, whether that’s trying to tilt the political [00:19:00] playing field in its favour or whether that’s campaign finance regulation. The reason I don’t make a big deal of this in my writing, is that the previous government had also tilted the playing field in his favour.

[00:18:42] And in fact, governments around the world tilt the playing field in their favour. So you know, just look at what’s happening in the United States. Now, whatever your personal views about Donald [00:18:52] Trump, I think any sane person can agree that the democratic party has pulled out all the [00:19:00] stops to prosecute, to search through Trump’s extensive history and to try to prosecute him for any possible violation they can find of any kind, even to the extent of, in New York right now, there’s a trial going on over a supposed crime that was reclassified from a misdemeanour into a felony specifically for the purpose of being able to prosecute Donald Trump for it. Of course, the judiciary has been politicised. in the United States. I don’t agree with that. I condemn it just as I would condemn the politicisation of prosecutions in India. The question is not, is it wrong? Of course it’s wrong. The question is, how wrong is it? It is similarly wrong to things that are done both across space in other countries that we all accept are well established democracies.

[00:19:58] And it’s similar to things across [00:20:00] time that were done at other times in India’s history when India was acknowledged to be a well established democracy. Look, murder is wrong all the time, but murders occurred under UPA and murders occur under NDA and murders occur in Sweden and murders occur in India. The question is not is murder wrong. The question is, are they increasing and how do they compare? And it’s exactly the same when it comes to these allegations against democracy. Every country has violations of good democratic best practice. They do not seem currently to be particularly worse in India than in other countries.

[00:20:42] And for every example you want to give me about India, I can give you an example from a developed country that’s done the same. You know, Modi didn’t allow the documentary to be shown from the BBC. You know, all right, well, there’s a good reason for that. India has laws against inflammatory material that could stoke communal violence.

[00:20:58] The documentary was about communal violence. [00:21:00] You know, there could be a legal basis for prohibiting it. That’s reasonable. Should it have been prohibited? No, I don’t think so but that said, Australia is right now in a global debate with Twitter, with Elon Musk calling out Australia’s prime minister, Anthony Albanese, over the suppression of video of a Muslim attack on a Christian minister in Western Sydney. And Albanese wants to suppress that not only in Australia, he wants to suppress it globally. Well, you know, at least Modi didn’t try to suppress the BBC documentary, around the entire world. He only tried to suppress it in India. You know, like I can give example after example, these things are done.

[00:21:44] I want to be clear, I don’t approve of any of them. I’m a free speech fundamentalists who believes in absolutely liberal approach to democracy but I accept as a social scientist that these things happen. Countries are [00:22:00] imperfect and India in my analysis is no more imperfect than other countries that we accept as democracies.

[00:22:08] Krati: Okay, that helps. You know, I have a background in economics, but considering I do something completely different, I wasn’t aware of that data that you pointed out to me and I’m going to dive deeper into it again because of the work that I do. But had I not been doing this work, considering just the sheer amount of work that we have to do on a daily basis, the size of our to-do lists, very few people are aware of the things that you are now pointing out.

[00:22:31] It’s good that we have podcasts, that we have channels like yours, and that we can learn about it. But, how much do you think the ordinary citizen actually understands these things and how do you think they cast their vote? Because I wonder, considering the conversations that are happening, a lot of it is people casting vote for a particular personality, and not

[00:22:53] necessarily the party because I think very few people are actually studying the policies, studying the implications of those policies and trying to understand the history of that party.

[00:23:03] Salvatore: First, ordinary citizens can’t be aware of these things because the press and academia very much take political sides and [00:23:12] press on all sides of these debates misrepresent reality in order to create their best view of their preferred candidate. That’s sad. It’s sad that that happens in academia as well as in the press, but let’s face facts.

[00:23:29] It does. How do voters make a decision? Well, we accept the democratic myth you might call it of the wisdom of the common person that ordinary people can see through all of the deception, all of the BS and that people can know what they want. You know, HL Mencken is an American satirist from the early 20th century said democracy is the theory that people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.

[00:23:56] That is, you know, that if they make stupid choices then they deserve to be punished [00:24:00] for their stupid choices. Well, he was a curmudgeon, but I kind of agree with him that, you know, people do know what they want. And it’s none of my business if what someone wants is a temple, or if what someone else wants is a road, or if what someone else wants is for India to be proud of India being powerful on the global stage. [00:25:00] If that’s what people want, that’s what people want. I mean, I went and made a video advice for Rahul about the advice I would give the INC and this was about nine months ago or so. And I said, look, you just have to have a positive program. It doesn’t matter what you propose. You can’t run on ‘Modi’s a dictator’ because 70 percent of the population loves Mr.

[00:24:45] Modi, you have to run on here’s what I’ll do. And I jokingly said, offer to build them another aircraft carrier. People love aircraft carriers. Now India, in my analysis and most defence analysts and Western defence analysts’ views has absolutely no need for an aircraft carrier, but it’s a matter of prestige.

[00:25:04] It’s, you know, prestigious. Powerful countries have aircraft carriers. And so I told, I said, you know, Rahul offer to build a fleet of aircraft carriers and name them after Hindu gods and people will go wild, you know, that we’d love to have, you know, the, in the INS Ram and the INS Ganesh, you know, like that’d be fantastic.

[00:25:25] I don’t advise that. I merely use it to illustrate that what people want to vote on is people’s choice and there’s a profound uncertainty even among academic experts. There’s a profound uncertainty as to what is the right course of action. We just don’t know. I mean, even if everyone were perfectly informed, I mean, look at the opinions of academics and journalists.

[00:25:48] These are extremely well informed people, yet they vehemently support one side or another and they’re on both sides or not both sides. In India, they’re on all 20 sides. So does it really matter that people be properly informed? The most well informed people in our societies disagree about these fundamental questions.

[00:26:08] And if the best informed people disagree, well, even in our dream world, the subsistence farmer would only be as well informed as a JNU professor. And you [00:27:00] know, and if even JNU professors can’t make these decisions, does it really matter that the subsistence farmer is not informed?

[00:26:28] Krati: But considering, put all of that against the, the very real fact that now people are a lot more vocal and very, very willing to take action, whether that be in the form of something intellectual or taking to the streets and actually being violent. Put that against that idea…

[00:26:49] Salvatore: People are not more willing to be violent. Look, I want to stop you there because we have no evidence that that’s true. The last major communal violence in India, much to Mr. Modi’s regret, I’m certain, was in 2002 in Gujarat. There is violence in India. I’m not saying there’s not. I’m saying that India has become much less violent.

[00:27:10] The anti Sikh pogroms are a thing of the past. You know, the mass Hindu Muslim violence, which thousands of people were killed. Thankfully, that’s a thing of the past. It’s not becoming more of it. People are becoming more peaceful as they come out into the public sphere and I think that’s to be applauded.

[00:27:25] Krati: I agree with you but considering.  There’s like A lot of the discussions are invested in religious politics, whether that’s coming from a good place, coming from a positive place, or whether that’s a tool to further an agenda, considering all of that.  Where do you think this is going to go  and what should someone who is educated someone who is able to access all the sources of information  should be focused on as and when they’re looking at this because I I was happy that the Ram Mandir was built in Ayodhya.

[00:27:55] I’m a Hindu. I was happy about it. I was not happy about all the violence that happened obviously but when the Gyanvapi conversation started and I heard this song on YouTube, some singer, he’s someone I like listening to, he puts out devotional music. He put out a very violent song about taking back Gyanvapi and that really shook me.

[00:28:15] I was like, where is this going? I do not want to be part of a riot, not even to build a temple.

[00:28:21] Salvatore: Look, obviously I don’t approve of violence and I don’t endorse calls for violence and I think that it’s terrible when these things happen. What I want to do is reorient people towards data. That is, we don’t see evidence that violence is increasing and if it helps, I can take this out of the Indian context and put it, say, in a US context, where it’s less controversial for most people listening to this.

[00:28:44] There’s been talk in the US about violent video games, you know, encouraging a generation of youth to become, you know, shooters and killers. And it’s never happened. And we’ve had 40 years of ultra violent video games and young, you know, teenage [00:29:00] boys going and just shooting thousands of people in a game.

[00:29:03] And it doesn’t manifest an actual violence in society. The U. S. is a violent society, but it’s become a less violent society over time, not a more violent society. Now, I don’t endorse pop songs that call for violence against Muslims. Obviously, I would condemn that. I haven’t listened to the songs.

[00:29:20] They’re not in English. I don’t know them. You know, obviously, I condemn that. India has laws against that, and I hope those laws will be enforced. Again, I don’t agree with such laws.

[00:29:30] Krati: yeah, the song was taken down.

[00:29:33] Salvatore: Yeah, but I understand that in India, a country that has a history of serious communal violence, I understand the need for anti-hate speech laws being more, more in India than in the United States or Australia.

[00:29:45] Okay, fine. You know, we don’t want these things. We want the law to operate as it should. I don’t want to get too worked up over it, or if I can put it differently, I’m satisfied that people like you get worked up over it. [00:30:00] That is, the fact that people like you are shocked by it instead of people like you supporting it is in itself hopeful for India.

[00:30:07] And it makes me, as an international analyst say, you know what, Indian society can protect itself against this. I mean, look, there’s still Nazis in America and Australia, not many, half dozen, but they exist. Why don’t we worry about that? Because the rest of society shuns this, condemns it, and doesn’t want anything to do with it.

[00:30:28] If, you know, there were a Nazi with a Nazi flag on the street, everyone would walk to the opposite side. You know, there are pro Hamas, pro Palestine protests every Sunday in Hyde park in the middle of Sydney. What do we normal people do? We avoid Hyde park. Normal people shun that. Normal people condemn it.

[00:30:48] Yes, it’s unfortunate that, you know, a couple hundred, maybe even a thousand Australians want to support this sort of thing, but the rest of Australia shuns and condemns it, and that’s what keeps [00:31:00] Australia safe.

[00:31:01] And it’s the same for India. We hope that people will shun and condemn these things when they occur instead of rallying around them.

[00:31:08] There is a potentially worrying group of very resentful, what you would call in India, the Hindu ultra, right? I hesitate to call them Hindu, but they self identify as Hindu. So let’s call it the Hindu ultra, right? But it’s a small group. Hopefully it remains in the fringe and hopefully it continues to express views that while people may

[00:31:33] enjoy in a song that they don’t actually want to go do it. Just as many Americans enjoy things in video games that they would never do in real life. Now, I hope that of course things can change and if, you know, we do see serious, you know, trends towards violence around you know, temple destruction, or I’m sorry, mosque destruction in India, I’ll be more [00:32:00] worried.

[00:32:00] Right now I view it as a group of marginal people in society who may be popular, but who aren’t influencing actual actions. I don’t endorse it. I criticise it. I, you know, in the book I’m writing, I’ll be, I’m currently working on a chapter where I’m criticising it but the fact that a society harbors something bad doesn’t make it a bad society.

[00:32:24] Every heart, every society harbors bad things. This is India’s, if you’ll forgive the mixed metaphor, this is India’s cross to bear, the, you know, the violent ultra, right?

[00:32:35] Krati: That is reassuring and it should be considered how the negative stuff gets amplified online. Like you said, if there’s a protest going on somewhere and we don’t feel the need to participate, we don’t agree with any of it, we’ll just avoid it and that’s a lot of my friends because I work a lot with Americans. I work with American publications. I deal with a lot of the cultural war that’s going on in America. A lot of my friends would point out to me, my american friends would point out to me, that that is not how it really is in America. The way you see it on YouTube, [00:33:04] that’s not how it actually is.

[00:33:07] Salvatore: Look, I don’t want to name names, but incendiary right wing speakers are very popular in the Indian media. The question we have is, are they popular because they represent a kind of harmless wish fulfilment on behalf of their audience? Or, you know, like if you’re a Mike Tyson fan, you might love seeing Mike Tyson beat people up.

[00:33:28] He does it for you, so you don’t have to beat people up. So is it a kind of spectator sport or are these incendiary people actually inspiring people to go out and be more confrontational and you know, more prone to violence in their daily lives? I don’t know the answer to that. Obviously, it’s something we would worry about.

[00:33:51] But at this point, it’s at the level of worry, not at the level of happening.

[00:33:56] Krati: Yeah, one of the religious leaders said, he’s not a religious leader per se. He’s just a spiritual guy. He is a religious, spiritual person. He said that it is good that people, hindu people, have been pushed into reading their scriptures and now they’re enjoying it and they’re doing it more and more, and there is more religiosity in the people.

[00:34:17] But if you are truly reading your scriptures, then violence is simply not an option open to your soul.

[00:34:22] Salvatore: People say that, but, but look you could find justifications for violence in Hindu scriptures.

[00:34:29] You can find it in the Bhagavad Gita, you don’t even have to look that deep. In the same way you can read the Quran and much more than anything in the Hindu world, the Quran frankly advocates violence against nonbelievers.

[00:34:44] And frankly advocates Holy War. Of course, people who want to be controversial pull these up and pull these quotes out and put them on TV and put them on YouTube and the quotes are there. Are most Indian Muslims engaged in Holy [00:35:00] War against Hindus just because the scripture has something that would just, no.

[00:35:03] I mean, it’s just not happening. People rightly take these as, whether they were meant as metaphors by the authors or not, people rightly take these as metaphors today and do not act on them because we’re all mature people who live in society and that’s true for Muslim scriptures.

[00:35:24] It’s true for Jewish scriptures, which you can find things in the Hebrew Bible that advocate genocide. But you know, whatever anyone might want to say, Israel is not a genocidal state. And, you know, in the same way even Christian scriptures, which are benign, probably the most benign in the world. I mean, if someone strikes you, turn the other cheek.

[00:35:46] They have been used in history to justify violence, but for the most part, people don’t act on those exhortations today. So, there have always been exhortations to violence. What’s important is [00:36:00] whether or not people act on them. That is, my hope is and I don’t know, here’s where being an English speaker and not a Hindi speaker or a local language speaker,

[00:36:10] this is where it’s a problem. I don’t know. And I would not try to do the kind of research where I determine are the Hindu youth organisations associated with the RSS and the VHP, you know, are the Hindu youth organisations that had been founded by Yogi Adityanath that were supposedly disbanded, are these youth organisations, you know, inspired to violence by the ultra right wing television commentators.

[00:36:41] Well, to do that kind of research, you have to do qualitative research based on interviews in the local language. That’s not my kind of research. I hope people are doing that research and if they find troubling facts that they’ll bring them to light. I’m working with a quantitative data and in the quantitative data, there are no signs yet, at least that any of [00:37:00] this has become has reached a level of action as opposed to fantasy.

[00:37:04] And I hope it never does reach the level of action. Some people will want to ban the fantasies. Banning speech doesn’t tend to prevent actions. So, you know, while I find some of this speech reprehensible, there are lots of things that all of us find reprehensible and yet we accept them because we live in liberal societies.

[00:37:22] Krati: There is a point of curiosity here for me, at least. I wonder how much of the people, like, there was the establishment of the Waqf board. Congress has long used the Muslim vote bank and they’ve done things that are really not okay to, again, I wonder how well informed I am so far as politics is concerned, but based on what we read, based on the interactions we have, we understand that.

[00:37:48] BJP is using the Hindu vote bank, Congress used the Muslim vote bank.

[00:37:52] Salvatore: Well, first of all, there is no Hindu vote bank. The Hindu vote is 80 percent of the country and if you had the quote unquote Hindu vote bank, you’d win every election overwhelmingly. So there’s no Hindu vote bank. There is a new India vote bank,

[00:38:05] you know, people who have a new vision of a muscular Indian civilizational state and yes, the BJP leverages that vote bank. If you want to call it a vote bank. This is a very Indian word, the idea of vote banks. It’s not a word that travels. It’s not used elsewhere. Look Congress has adopted policy, illiberal policies to satisfy a group of ultra orthodox Muslim religious leaders who probably don’t speak for the Muslim community as a whole.

[00:38:37] That’s a fact of history. Whether it’s doing it now or not, we could debate. Has it historically done it? Yes, of course, you know, Rajiv Gandhi clearly did that. Nehru clearly did that. The BJP similarly seems to stoke communal tensions unnecessarily in language that telegraphs to people who have [00:39:00] anti-muslim or anti, sometimes anti-christian, but generally anti-muslim views that telegraphs to them that the BJP has their back. I don’t think that’s a good thing to do any more than I think what Congress does is a good thing to do. This is the rough and tumble of democratic politics. Look, we have to accept, if we’re going to live in democracies, we have to accept that everybody has a vote. Racists have a vote. Sexists have a vote.

[00:39:25] Ultra traditionalists have a vote. Transpeople have a vote. We all get a vote and if we accept that everybody has a vote, well they’re gonna vote for somebody. I mean, in the US which has a two party system, much is made of the fact that if you’re a member of the Ku Klux Klan, you vote Republican.

[00:39:44] It’s like, well, yeah, ’cause who else are you gonna vote for , right? You can’t criticise a republican for getting the vote of the Ku Klux Klan the same way that a [00:39:53] Black Panther terrorist is going to vote democrat because the democratic party may not want [00:40:00] them, but who else are they going to vote for?

[00:40:01] You know, it’s just a fact of democratic life that people with extreme views do exist and they do vote. And since they do, parties will unfortunately, and I don’t endorse this, parties will unfortunately dog whistle is the term we use, to those constituencies that it will protect them. Not necessarily support them, but we’ll at least protect them.

[00:40:25] I don’t think that’s a good thing. I wouldn’t do it if I were a politician, but that’s why I’m not a politician. Because I would lose because you, you know, the, the number one rule of elections is they’re there to be won.

[00:40:38] Krati: Yeah, I read your recent tweet around that as well and this is the reason that I asked that question, it’s because I would want to encourage my listeners, encourage anyone, you know, who listens to you as well to sort of look beyond that monologue that happens during campaigning. These promises that are made, consider that while you feel like this person is in sympathy with you, you have to [00:41:00] understand that they are trying to win votes. They are trying to win seats.

[00:41:04] It’s not what they are saying to you, that is, you know, emotionally sort of alluring to you but, it’s at the end of the day, a tool for them. It’s a job for them that they’re doing. I just want people to kind of remember that and as and when they’re standing in that queue to vote

[00:41:22] maintain somewhat of a neutral mindset, at least one that is focused, like you said, on data. Data doesn’t lie, and focus more on how much progress the state has experienced.

[00:41:28] Salvatore: The best evidence we have and we don’t have very good evidence on this. The best evidence we have is that people vote based on their personal experiences. So, and I did some early research on this mostly focused on, on Italy and other European countries, but I think the principle probably holds more generally that for instance, people don’t vote based on what the reported GDP growth is.

[00:41:52] They vote based on what the actual growth is and there’s a difference because GDP statistics are always delayed three to six months [00:42:00] and people will vote. People will vote during a recession to change the party in government, even if that recession has not been officially announced because nobody knows yet.

[00:42:11] You know, the statistics haven’t been reported. They’ll come out in three or six months, but people know that they’re suffering, right. So people vote based on their personal experience of the world. And we aggregate that. I mean, remember no party ever represents the totality of what somebody wants.

[00:42:30] You know, a party has a set of policies. Another party has a set of policies and I may like five of these policies and three of those policies. There’s never a party and [00:42:39] this is why the whole theory of proportional representation doesn’t work and I’m very opposed to proportional representation.

[00:42:46] I believe in single member districts, that’s a personal preference. But the theory of proportional representation assumes that each person should have a party that reflects her him or represents her him. And the fact is no party fully represents [00:43:00] you because you want a little of each, right?

[00:43:03] If you have a single member district, at least you have a representative who you can complain to if you don’t get what you want but here we’re getting into kind of the minutiae of things. This is not my research. I want to be clear. When I research Indian democracy, I’m not asking, is the party doing something wrong.

[00:43:19] Do I do agree with this? Should they dog whistle? Should they do that? What I’m asking is comparatively over space, comparing to other countries and over time compared to India’s own history, are these things always present? Or is this something new? And what’s been particularly interesting in my research is how much both Indians and social scientists have a lot of historical amnesia.

[00:43:44] Because when I say over India’s history, I don’t trust the history books. I go to the newspapers and so I’m pulling up newspaper articles from the 1950s, [00:46:00] you know, calling,

[00:43:57] literally calling Nehru a dictator and that it’s the end of democracy in 1951 because of the first amendment that limited freedom of the press. And everyone’s forgotten that now in the international rankings rate, India in 1951 is having a highly free press with little government censorship. And here I’m reading both the times of India, which is the paper of record that I have in my database and the Washington post calling Nehru, a dictator who’s repressing the press.

[00:44:30] Yet now it’s all forgotten.

[00:44:32] so really what I’m doing in my research is creating these inter-temporal and inter-spatial comparisons, not evaluating in absolute terms, is this right or wrong, good or bad? I simply accept that all democracies do things that are wrong and bad.

[00:44:48] Krati: What resources would you direct my listeners to? Because if they want to learn, if they want to add to their intellect so far as these, all of this stuff is concerned, especially right now, considering it’s election season and also we’re constantly forming our opinions and adding to the conversation.

[00:45:06] Where would you direct their attention?

[00:45:08] Salvatore: Well, first and foremost to my upcoming book, which will come out next year. You know, I’m sorry to be self serving, but the fact is that in my research, I’ve found so much mendacity in writing about Indian politics and democracy, both by Indians and by international authors that I’ve had to go to original sources.

[00:45:33] And the only reason I’ve been able to do this research is because so much of the source material is in English. I mean, if it weren’t, I would have had to give up because you just can’t trust accounts of Indian history. I recently read Rahul Shiv Shankar’s Modi in India 2024 in the battle for Bharat.

[00:45:53] I think that was a very fair minded book. It sounds like it’s a book about [00:46:00] the election, but it’s not really. It’s a book about the whole idea of New India.

[00:46:05] There’s some other good books. Dharmic Nation, Freeing Bharat was also a a good book by R.Jagannatha. The other book I would recommend is again by Utpal Kumar, who’s at First Post, and again, a very fair introduction to the historical moment that India faced, and so Bharat Rising, Dharma, Democracy, and Diplomacy, again, a fair minded book. You know, all these books are books that people view as being on the soft side. They’re viewed politically in India as being on the non BJP right. But the reality is they just represent new India.

[00:46:49] You know, they, they represent this new idea of India that really has been around since the great book, the book that really kicked off this whole literature, The Great Hindu Civilization by [00:47:00] Pavan Varma which is one that I think every Indian should read. It’s a fantastic book that, again, lays out this new vision of India that’s developing. And these are all books that people should engage with, even if they disagree with them, because they’re representative of where India is going. Whether you like where India is going or dislike where India is going, they all engage seriously and fearlessly with India’s history.

[00:47:25] with no attempt made to rewrite that history or to make that history different than what it was or to say sanitise the history because they want to protect minorities in India or to glorify that history because they want to, you know, boost the ego of Hindus. These are all honest engagements with history that are attempting to build a vision of where India will go.

[00:47:48] And I’d highly recommend all of them.

[00:47:50] Krati: I’m going to include all of them in the episode description. When is your book coming out?

[00:47:54] Salvatore: It should be out this time next year. I’m wrapping up writing now.

[00:47:59] Krati: [00:48:00] I highly recommend it as well because I think you’ve demonstrated why during our conversation. Everyone says that you have to pick a side. Anyone who does advocacy work, anyone who does policy work, any writers, they have to pick a side, they have to lean in one direction more. I don’t agree. I feel like when you do that, then I as a reader, have to be very cautious in how much of that I internalise because then it’s no longer a very fair look at the subject that you’re tackling.

[00:48:26] That was not an issue I had with your content because I feel like, perhaps, maybe because you don’t get as emotional about the whole discussion, you present a very fair perspective, and I think we need more of that. Or, at least, we need to make sure that if we are gonna listen to people who are picking sides, that we listen to both sides.

[00:48:44] Salvatore: Thing that’s really shocked me is how many western scholars who study India are emotionally invested in a side in politics and I think that’s a serious problem. I’m coming to the study of India not as an India [00:49:00] expert. I don’t speak Hindi. I don’t read Sanskrit. I don’t know any Dravidian languages. I never even visited the country until 2022. I’m not coming to India as an India expert.

[00:49:13] I’m coming to India as a comparative statistician and so for me, India is just a case, right? I did a book on China. I’ve done a book on the Brics. Yeah, I’m doing a book on India. It’s just a case and it’s been shocking to me, the emotional investment of the group who call themselves South Asian studies scholars.

[00:49:33] They even have what they call a South Asia Scholar Activist Collective, SASAC where they go out and they do hits, including on me. I mean. my university laughed it off, but they do hits on various people. I mean, for example Vikram Sampath, the attack on him for supposed plagiarism, which he showed was not plagiarism at all, but [00:50:00] just that he used the same source as another author used. That attack on Vikram Sampath was organized by this group and they literally go after them and they go to really obscure, sometimes obscure authors in the Indian studies world.

[00:50:16] And attack them, like write letters to the universities, write letters to the press about them, write letters to their journals that publish their work saying you shouldn’t publish this. It’s just crazy. I mean, I’ve never seen anything like it in any other field. Every other field has disagreements, but the idea that a group of scholars would get together and have the time and energy to bother, to attack people.

[00:50:39] And that’s why I’ve been comparing the study of India to the study of Israel and that’s the only other country that elicits such strong emotions in people who have no horse in the race. It’s Israel and it’s strange, but it’s a fact of life and that’s why I say, you can’t trust scholarship on India because so much of it [00:51:00] is politicized by people who shouldn’t be political, but those authors I’ve mentioned, none of them are. All of them would be viewed as being on the soft Hindu right. None of them are particularly, as far as I know, Modi supporters. They all think Modi has done good things for the country, but they’re not political people.

[00:51:22] I might mention another – Gautam Desi Raju. Gautam Desi Raju is a, you know, an eminent chemist who during the COVID pandemic, his lab was closed down and he wrote a book on reform in India. It’s called Bharat India 2. 0, and it’s funny, if you look on Amazon, as I am doing right now for his other books, his other books are, you know, the weak hydrogen bond and structural chemistry, crystal design, structure and function, crystal engineering, a textbook, you know,

[00:51:54] this is a man who has [00:52:00] absolutely no time for politicians,

[00:52:03] but read his book because his book again lays out a frankly nationalist vision for India’s future that is again, even though he himself has no connection to Narendra Modi, BJP, or the RSS, none at all, his book will be criticized by the intellectual establishment because it challenges them,

[00:52:25] right?

[00:52:25] It challenges the history. Desi Raju has a point of view. I’m not going to say he’s completely unbiased. Everyone has a bias or a point of view. What I’m saying is Desi Raju’s point of view has, nothing particularly in common with any political party in India, but because he’s challenged the established orthodoxy he has been criticized by the established orthodoxy.

[00:52:52] So, these are all great books that I’ve mentioned. I’ve read them all. I’ve enjoyed them all, but they’re rare. I mean, most of the books I’ve read [00:53:00] on India and its history have been so blatantly political that they just lie, misrepresent. I mean, I go through them and I’ll read things and I’ll say, I know that’s false.

[00:53:10] I read the news article in the times of India from 1937, you know, and it’s not what it said. It said something else. It’s an unfair burden to put on a non scholar. It’s been an unfair burden to put on me, you know, that every fact I’ve had to go back to the period newspaper to check.

[00:53:28] Did that really happen? Was that really true? You know, it’s sad, but that’s the state of Indian historiography.

[00:53:34] Krati: My last question. Where do you find the courage to be in very combative interviews? I’ve seen a couple of interviews where the interviewer, I think they had an agenda.

[00:53:46] Salvatore: I’ve had two combative interviews and ironically, they’ve come from two opposite sides. I had the news laundry interview. No, I’ve had three combative interviews. I’ve had a news laundry interview which went on forever and was, you know, a ridiculous [00:54:00] farce of, you know, aha, you know, professor Babones was wrong about the GDP of Saudi Arabia.

[00:54:05] That was the one thing they featured. He got the GDP per capita of Saudi Arabia wrong and you think, if this is the worst you’ve got, you know, bring it on. They tried to me look ominous, you know, by instead of showing my actual video, showing a video of the laptop of me and such. And I did a ridiculous interview with Op India, which lasted so long that I had to take a bathroom break in the middle.

[00:54:29] It went on for like three hours and I said, look, if you want to keep going, I can, but, and you know, again, on the one hand, News Laundry was trying to say that Modi’s a fascist and how can you defend fascism and, you know, trying to get gotcha moments on me and OpIndia is trying to say that there’s going to be a genocide in India in the 2020s.

[00:54:46] And I said, under Narendra Modi? Because I asked them, do you think Modi would be reelected? They said, absolutely. I said, and you think he’s going to preside over a genocide of Hindus? Yes, it’s coming! Like what planet do you live on and then, I had a bizarre interview [00:55:00] with Ranganathan.

[00:55:03] I’m forgetting his first name. Very prominent media commentator and new professor. Yeah, Anand Raghunathan. Which was supposed to be a friendly interview at the end of the Arts Festival and instead he wanted to ridicule me. He wanted to ridicule me for thinking India was a democracy when in fact, in his view, India is not a democracy because Hindus don’t have enough power.

[00:55:30] It’s like, again, what planet do you live on? And so like, yes, I’ve had these three hostile interviews.

[00:55:37] Krati: I’ve not heard the last one, [00:55:39] but Anand Raghunathan has said some things online that I am going to learn more about because some of his comments have been very strange and hard to wrap your head around.

[00:55:53] Salvatore: He’s a ridiculous demagogue. And you know, Anand, if you’re listening, thank you. He’s a [00:56:00] ridiculous demagogue and you know, he’s very popular and it’s like, you know, it’s not that he’s necessarily wrong. I mean, he says things that are often factual, not always, but, you know, often factually, he’s just trying to put them in the most incendiary light possible.

[00:56:16] So, I had these three bad interviews.

[00:56:20] Krati: But you’re very gracious throughout.

[00:56:21] Salvatore: Thank you. It’s because I’ve done a hundred interviews on India. Everyone’s been super friendly. I’ve been embraced. I get emails from people. Thank you, professor Salvatore. I get invited into people’s homes. I mean, what is three negative experiences versus 00:56:39] hundreds. I started a think tank to study Indian democracy, and I’ve received 452 donations over the internet from people, most I don’t even know. You know, we’ve raised a total, including the go fund me and other donations, we’ve raised something like 90, 000 Australian dollars. Or for those thinking U.S.

[00:56:58] dollars around 60 – [00:57:00] 65, 000 U. S. Dollars. All from eople who are just giving their hard earned money. Some of them are $5 donations. You know, so how can I resent three annoying interviews when I’ve had so many wonderful conversations like this, met so many genuine people? And if I can have a message to put out to Indians to close with, it’s that virtually everybody in the national debate genuinely wants to do what’s best for their country as they see it. You may disagree with them, but the number of people who are nasty, unpleasant, you know, want to do wrong, tiny fraction. Most people genuinely just want what’s best and they may disagree over what’s best,  that’s what democracy is for. We don’t know what the best course is. We trust that Good people that are neighbors, co workers, our friends, our [00:58:00] family, that ultimately they’ll make the right decisions.

[00:58:03] And that’s why not a single well established democracy has ever failed. Not a single one. All this literature on democratic failure is based on countries that were hardly democracies in the first place. You know, the Weimar Republic, you know, the Weimar Republic had a troubled 10 year history in Germany in which it was constantly being challenged on all sides with revolutions and, it wasn’t a democracy.

[00:58:32] Venezuela under Chavez, you know, that wasn’t a democracy that failed. Yet these are the archetypal examples you find in the democracy failure literature and I say this categorically, not a single democracy that has survived 30 years has ever failed. And the reason is that once you have a democracy, people of goodwill just want it to continue.

[00:58:55] They like their neighbours. They want what’s best for their neighbours. Nobody in India, [00:59:00] wants Dalit regression.

[00:59:06] Salvatore: Everybody wants Dalit advancement. Now, they may disagree over the best means for Dalit advancement. Every major institution wants it. There are only a few crazy people who oppose it. Everyone wants poor farmers to have a better living. We may disagree. Is that better achieved through the Mandi system, or is that better achieved through liberalization?

[00:59:30] We may disagree on the means, but we all want it. Everybody wants it. You know, everyone wants women’s empowerment. Yes, there are few ultra conservative people in temples and mosques who want to keep women down. Nobody wants those people in power. Nobody accepts them. They have very small followings.

[00:59:52] You know, it’s a goal that we all share. The question is, how do we achieve that goal? And that’s what’s democracy is for, because we have profound [01:00:00] ignorance about what’s the best way to achieve these goals. So we vote on it.

[01:00:06] And, you know, by voting on it, we arrive at the best compromise we can get to, to help make the world a better place.

[01:00:15] Krati: I’m glad you shared all that because we are concluding the conversation on a positive note, on a reassuring note. And I think it is something that is, I know, preoccupying the minds of a lot of people all over the world, not just in India.

[01:00:28] A lot of us very concerned, again, because of how limited our sources of information or at least reliable sources of information are, and how well we can analyze it, intellectualize it, and actually rely on what we have our own understanding of it. So this is actually helpful.

[01:00:46] Anything you want to plug?

[01:00:47] Salvatore: I’m just thrilled that people want to hear what I have to say as an academic. It’s really a great honour that anyone in the public cares about your research. And I’m just thrilled that I’m very [01:01:00] accessible. Anyone who wants to reach me can easily look up my email address online or DM me on Twitter, or, you know, connect on LinkedIn.

[01:01:07] I really love hearing from people. It’s a great opportunity for an academic to have the chance to have a classroom that’s bigger than the university.

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Unlock a new level of growth and a world of possibilities with emotional mastery. 

Personal Transformation

Everything that can help you design a life in alignment in with your goals


Repair broken relationships and create new, healthy ones that become part of your support system

Mind and spirit

Reprogram your subconscious to let go of past trauma, build a belief system that supports your goals, & practice calming rituals.

YOUR Show host

Hi! I'm Krati Mehra.

A superhero nerd determined to save the world one human at a time and that’s not even my most ambitious goal 😉 I am an empowerment coach, a major mamma’s girl, and a human obsessed with showing the world what a truly determined human can do.

I truly believe that the world changes for the better when even one person decide to be bold and play big and each episode of Experible can help us do that, one step at a time.

Travel and books have been my biggest teachers, and I get high on defiant truth telling. Let’s do this!

Conquer Fears, Ignite Confidence, & Achieve Your Dreams

Are you ready to get off the sidelines ?

Tired of being held back by your own insecurities? And yearn for the courage and confidence to pursue what truly excites you? No matter your starting point or the magnitude of your dreams, my course, Conscious Courage, can help you silence the inner critic, rewire limiting beliefs, and cultivate unwavering self-belief so you can boldly create the reality you desire.

Ready for something more

focused, comprehensive, and custom?

If yes, perhaps you’re ready for 1:1 coaching.  I coach ambitious humans who are ready to go all in on their dreams. So, if you’re done fantasising and planning and now need the internal tools to turn those plans into reality, book an inquiry call and we can get started. If we’re a good fit, I will be your guide and companion in this journey till I’ve successfully taken you to the finish line. 

The workbook will be sent straight to your inbox!