The eighth phase of India’s marathon general election began this week, and with over 814 million eligible voters it is the largest democratic exercise in history. Some speculate the country will become the third largest economy in the world over the next few decades, but the new leader – to be announced on May 16th – with the future of India in his hands, will face huge challenges to keep it on the right track.
How can trust be restored in India’s fractured politics? What policies can stimulate business, attract foreign investment and reignite its faltering growth? How will India face up to the geopolitical challenges of tension in the AfPak region and a China vying for regional dominance?
We’re pleased to introduce six expert speakers on the future of India, the impact of the election, and how it will shape India in the years to come.
Isher Judge Ahluwalia
Pratap Bhanu Mehta
Vivek Wadhwa, Fellow at Stanford Law School, has written a tech manifesto for the incoming government of India, on how technology can help transform the country.
Technology carries many risks and potentially creates new problems. But, as Vivek explains, it is the only way for India to educate the 200 million children who otherwise will be left out; curb the rampant corruption of the fabric of the country; solve its health problems; and provide clean water to the masses.
Vivek notes that increasing the availability and use of the Aakash tablet – one of the world’s cheapest tablets manufactured in India with the capabilities of the original iPad – is one way to accelerate social change. Educational apps can be downloaded and widely accessible, thus transforming the educational system; the “digital tutor of the future can provide equally good education to all kids – rich and poor.”
Vivek goes on to say that “technology has levelled the playing field, and the same advances that are propelling American innovation are available to India. The new government has to give priority to technology infrastructure so that it can reinvent India.”
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James Crabtree, Mumbai Bureau Chief of the Financial Times, recently wrote the cover story for the Financial Times’ magazine discussing India’s new politics, particularly focusing on why some of India’s business stars are taking on the traditional elite, as the world’s largest democracy goes to the polls.
Profiling candidates such as Nandan Nilekani, one of India’s most celebrated technology entrepreneurs, James describes how a wave of executives are entering India politics. James notes how “their decision to stand is a sign of wider change brewing: the new class of MBA-wielding professionals who rose to dominate India’s boardrooms now wants to exercise power of a different sort.”
He adds that “this new generation of aspiring politicians reflects a more profound underlying development, one in which India’s growing middle classes are demanding more from a political system that, at best, has tended to reflect the interests of the rural poor and, at worst, served only the whims of those already in power.”
James goes on to analyse the degree of influence of dynasticism in India’s new politics, and whether it might be on the way out. Click here to read the story.
The largest democratic exercise in history has begun in India, as 800 million eligible voters head to the polls for the general election. Dr John Hulsman, political risk analyst and senior columnist for City A.M., writes on the underrated importance of these elections, and how just three hurdles stand in the way of economic renaissance.
John argues that the “probable victory of the business-friendly Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist BJP party could do nothing less than jumpstart the moribund sub-continent, placing India on a new, virtuous cycle, and allowing growth to take off once again.”
However for Modi’s government to be successful, John points out that three basic challenges must be overcome:
- Win decisively to dominate the likely coalition, a feature that is habitual for India.
- Tame a reactionary civil service that is used to moving at a desultory pace at the best of times.
- Clarify the role Modi took in the Hindu pogrom in Gujarat in 2000.
John believes that with the BRICs concept fading, India stands out as “the major emerging market with the greatest possibility of further catch-up growth on the cards.”
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