In this chapter, we focus on the autocratization of environmental governance in India since the coming to power of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014. If we broadly understand autocratization to mean “democratization in reverse” (Lührmann and Lindberg 2019), such a reversal has indeed occurred in India since 2014, as Modi’s authoritarian populist regime has consolidated (Widmalm 2019). Like other such regimes, Modi’s authoritarian populism is committed to the construction of a common sense that gravitates around a trope of economic growth and “development” that seeks to address frustrated subaltern aspirations in the context of widespread joblessness – even in times of growth – while also opposing elitism and promulgating individual entrepreneurialism. This common sense is further wedded to a vitriolic rhetoric and politics of Hindu nationalism that expresses itself in autocratic forms through the policing of dissent, the targeting of “anti-national elements” both within and outside India, as well as communal and vigilante forms violence targeting minorities (see also Nielsen and Nilsen, this volume). This, in combination, pushes the Indian polity and public sphere in a majoritarian and authoritarian direction (Nilsen 2018; Jakobsen et al. 2019). Here, we zoom in on the ways in which this has affected environmental governance and the management of India’s natural resources in fundamental ways. In doing so, we acknowledge the various positive environmental initiatives undertaken by the Modi government, such as the commitment to mitigate climate change, fight air pollution, and invest in the transition to renewable energy, However, in this piece we argue that Modi’s twin agenda of prioritizing economic growth, enhancing the ease of doing business, and cracking down on so-called “anti-national” dissenters, have had decidedly negative consequences for India’s environment and, indeed, for hundreds of millions of Indians.

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