Dr James Chiriyankandath

Contact details

Dr James Chiriyankandath
PhD (SOAS, University of London)
Position/Fellowship type:
Senior Research Fellow
Fellowship term:
19-Oct-2009 to 31-Jan-2025
Institute of Commonwealth Studies
Home institution:
Institute of Commonwealth Studies
Institute Of Commonwealth Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London, Senate House, Malet Street London WC1E 7HU
+44 7553723118
Email address:

Research Summary and Profile

Research interests:
Colonies & Colonization, emigration & immigration, Contemporary History, Globalization & Development, Human rights, International Relations, Modern History , Politics
Asia, Middle East
Summary of research interests and expertise:

The politics, international relations and contemporary history of South Asia and the Middle East; nationalism and religion, particularly Indian nationalism, Zionism, and Islam and politics; Indian foreign policy; electoral and party politics in South Asia; human rights and post-colonial development. I co-edited Commonwealth and Comparative Politics, the premier comparative politics journal published in the UK, for 15 years until 2020.

Project summary relevant to Fellowship:


I continue to work on changes in Indian politics, especially on elections and "Hindu nationalism" and the Bharatiya Janata Party (in power since 2014). Papers presented included: "Beleaguered national institutions? The Election Commission and the Supreme Court and the 2019 election campaign"(Political Studies Association workshop, University of Bristol, June 2019), "The legacy of the 2019 election campaign for governance in India" (King's India Institute workshop, June 2019), “Kerala’s changing political colours: from tricolour to red – and saffron?” (ICwS-Political Studies Association workshop, June 2016); “Majoritarian nationalism in India” (workshop on Majoritarian nationalism and the rights of non-dominant groups, Institute of Asia & Pacific Studies, University of Nottingham, June 2016); “Hindu nationalism and Indian democracy 70 years on” (Centre for the Study of Democracy seminar, University of Westminster, October 2016); and on the 2017 state elections in India (workshop, King’s India Institute, March 2017). 

I’ve completed my work as part of an international team working on "Expanding, Not Shrinking Social Programmes: The Politics of New Policies to Tackle Poverty and Inequality in Brazil, India, China and South Africa", a project (2012-16) of the ESRC (UK) Rising Powers and Interdependent Futures initiative that is based at the Institute. A co-authored book,The Politics of Poverty Reduction in India: The UPA Government, 2004 to 2014, was published in 2020. Since then I have been working on a continuing Institute project on colonial laws and decriminalising poverty in Commonwealth states.

In a different strand of research, I presented a paper on “Globalisation, Discontent and Demagogic Politics. The Challenge for Democratic Federal Societies” (Indian Council for Social Science Research International Seminar on Glocalisation and Federal Governance in India: Understanding the Emerging Issues (Kalindi College, University of Delhi, January 2017).


Publication Details

Related publications/articles:

Date Details
01-Sep-2022 The 2022 Annual Register: World Events 2021, 263rd edition


Chapter VIII. Entries on India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka,Nepal, Bhutan, pp. 289-302

14-Feb-2020 India's 2019 Elections. The Hindutva Wave and Indian Nationalism


Chapter 18: Kerala: The Exception That Proves the Rule?, pp. 329-348

01-Jan-2020 The Politics of Poverty Reduction in India. The UPA Government, 2004 to 2014


The first systematic review of the politics and policy-making behind the anti-poverty programmes introduced by the Congress-led coalition government in India between 2004 and 2014, this co-authored book unearths the constellation of interests that shaped their legislation, and the key roles played by central, state and local governments, senior politicians, bureaucrats, civil activists, courts and the private sector in influencing their agenda. Focusing on political dynamics and the crucial issue of implementation, the authors address how concerns such as coalitions of interest, resource availability, and local and state administrative capacity shaped what was thought possible at the implementation stage.

10-Apr-2019 Glocalization and Federal Governance in India


Chapter 1.3. Globalisation, Discontent and Demagogic Politics: A Note on the Challenge for Democratic Federal Societies, pp.31-36.

01-May-2018 Rise of Saffron Power. Reflections on Indian Politics


Chapter 1: 'Yes, but not in the South': the BJP, Congress and regional parties in South India, pp. 44-61

30-Mar-2017 Politics in the Developing World, 5th edition


Chapter 2 Colonialism and Post-Colonial Development, pp. 29-43.

08-May-2015 Key Concepts in Modern Indian Studies


Entry on 'Malabari'. In Gita Dharampal-Frick et al (ed), Key Concepts in Modern Indian Studies (Delhi: Oxford University Press).

20-Nov-2014 Parties and Political Change in South Asia

Edited Book

Introduction to an edited book version of a special issue of Commonwealth & Comparative Politics, vol. 52, issue 1, Feb. 2014, pp. 1-6

01-Jan-2009 Routledge Handbook of Religion and Politics


Chapter 6 Hinduism, pp. 79-91.

01-Jan-2008 Nationalism, religion and community: A.B. Salem, the politics of identity and the disappearance of Cochin Jewry

Journal articles

Journal of Global History, Volume 3, Pt. 1, pp. 21-42.

This article considers how the existence of an ancient community, the Jews of Cochin on India’s Malabar coast, was transformed by the force of two powerful twentieth-century nationalisms – Indian nationalism and Zionism. It does so through telling the story of a remarkable individual, A. B. Salem, a lawyer, politician, Jewish religious reformer, and Indian nationalist, who was instrumental in promoting the Zionist cause and facilitating the mass migration of the Cochin Jews to Israel. Salem’s story illustrates how the prioritization and translation of kinds of identity into the public sphere is fluid and contingent upon a variety of circumstances, personal as well as the outcome of changes in the wider world.

Publications available on SAS-space

Publications available in Senate House Libraries

Consultancy reports:

Date Details
2017 Varieties of Democracy Project

Country expert on project to assess democracy worldwide co-hosted by the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, and the Kellogg Institute at the University of Notre Dame, USA.

Government/policy work:

Date Details
South Asia Advisory Board

Board of consultative experts convened by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to advise on UK relations with South Asia.

Research Projects & Supervisions

Current PhD topics supervised:

Dates Details
From: 01-Oct-2020
The (in)visibility of human rights violations Discriminatory legislation, judicial practices and policies against minorities

Co-supervising Indira Boutier with Dr Corinne Lennox.

Past PhD topics supervised:

Dates Details
From: 04-Sep-2017
Until: 19-Mar-2020
Competing Narratives of Memory: Birsa Munda and the Making of Anticolonialism in Jharkhand, India

Co-supervised with Dr. Corinne Lennox.

From: 01-Nov-2010
Until: 01-Jul-2015
The United States and democracy promotion in Iraq and Lebanon in the aftermath of the events of 9/11 and the 2003 Iraq War.

 Co-supervised with Professor Philip Murphy and Dr Maria Holt (University of Westminster)

Available for doctoral supervision: Yes

Relevant Events

Related events:

Date Details
10-Jun-2019 ‘Beleaguered national institutions? The Election Commission and the Supreme Court and the 2019 election campaign’

Presented paper at Political Studies Association/Asia Research Institute (University of Nottingham) workshop on India’s 2019 Elections: Majoritarianism, Pluralism, and Democracy

24-May-2019 Lok Sabha Elections in India 2019 and Prospects for the Future

Panel discussion on the outcome of the 2019 Indian general election.

14-Feb-2019 “India at the Polls, 2019: Significance and Prognosis”

Day conference on the upcoming general election in India.

17-Jul-2017 Researching the politics of South Asia 70 years after independence

Annual workshop of the Politics of South Asia Specialist Group of the Political Studies Association.

25-Oct-2016 Hindu nationalism and Indian democracy 70 years after partition

Presentation of a paper to the Centre for the Study of Democracy, University of Westminster.

25-Jun-2015 The Emergency: 40 years on

Day workshop co-sponsored by the Institute of Commonwealth Studies and the King's India Institute marking the 40th anniversary of the imposition of a state of Internal Emergency in India in 1975.

01-Nov-2014 The Congress Party, the politics of poverty and the policies of the UPA government

Paper presented in a panel on "The politics of tackling poverty and inequality in the BRICS: lessons for development studies" at the Development Studies Association Annual Conference, Institute of Education, University of London.

03-Jul-2014 The relative absence of safe parliamentary seats in India

Presentation of paper at an international workshop, The Unexpected Result? #Indiavotes2014 post-election workshop, 3rd July 2014

11-Jun-2014 The South in the 2014 elections: National parties and regional politics

International workshop at the King's India Institute, King's College, University of London, 11th June 2014.

10-Jun-2014 ‘Yes, but not in the South’: national parties and regional politics

International workshop on the 2014 Indian general election, SOAS South Asia Institute, University of London

01-Jan-2012 What happened to “garibi hatao”? The Congress Party and the politics of poverty

Panel on Political parties and change in South Asia, 22nd European Conference for South Asian Studies, ISCTE-Lisbon University, Portugal, 25th-28th July 2012.

01-Jan-2012 Gandhi, Nehru and the bi-national Zionists: Palestine, religious pluralism and national identity

Paper presented at the South Asia History Seminar, SOAS, University of London, 31st January 2012.

01-Jan-2011 Kerala Assembly Elections 2011: Identity and Interest vs. Charismatic Leadership?

Paper presented at Workshop on Recent Indian State Elections, Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London, 27th June 2011.

01-Jan-2011 Imagining Nations – Creating States: Belonging and Excluding

Paper presented to Colloquium at the Department of Political Science, South Asia Institute, Heidelberg, Tuesday, 22nd November 2011.

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