Sarthak Bagchi, M.A., M.Phil.

Clientelism, patronage politics, democratization, comparative politics, state politics in India, populist politics
Sarthak Bagchi, M.A., M.Phil.

An observer by habit, political scientist by training and a writer by choice, I have tried to make use of my journalistic background to do rich ground level fieldwork during Indian elections to gather a better ground level perspective of how democracy functions in India. Having completed my M.A and M.Phil in Political Science from the University of Hyderabad, I moved to Leiden University, dept of South Asian Studies to pursue my PhD as an Erasmus Mundus fellow beginning in 2013. Currently I am finishing my thesis at Leiden and have also worked as a researcher with the Royal Netherlands Institute for Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV) on a project concerning clientelism and citizenship in Indonesia. My PhD is on the topic of a comparative study of clientelistic politics across the Indian states of Bihar and Maharashtra, under the supervision of Ward Berenschot and Nira Wickramasinghe.

My research interests are in the everyday functioning of democracy in India. I am particularly interested in how manoeuvring takes place in various state-society relations within the everyday forms of politics. Also a keen follower and observer of elections, I am interested in following the changing and metamorphosing forms of state-society interactions through the lens of elections, within the democratic context. Recent experiences have busted some of the myths in the way concepts like patronage, clientelism and populism operate in the Indian context vis-a-vis the western theorization with regards to the liberal democratic framework prevalent in the west. This has led me to believe that there is a need, stronger than ever before, for a systematic study of these concepts like clientelism, patronage politics and populist politics to understand and theorize their working in the Indian or larger South Asian context.


Leiden University – Institute for Area Studies, South Asian & Tibetean Studies