Do Regimes Matter? Comparing the Politics of Rights-Based Activism in India and China with Sanjay Ruparelia


What explains the growth of rights-based activism, particularly through appeals to the courts, law, and constitutionalism, in India and China? How are these various rights justified, conceptualized, and pursued by state actors and social forces in terms of their moral imaginaries, political strategies, and social repertoires? Why have many prominent rights-based struggles in India and China simultaneously demanded greater transparency, responsiveness, and accountability from the state? What are their successes and failures to date? Finally, does the trajectory of these developments underscore the importance of regime-level differences or their declining significance? This presentation addresses these questions by examining the politics of rights-based legal activism from the era of Indira Gandhi and Deng Xiaoping to Narendra Modi and Xi Jinping.