A Year in India


Indian Elections
May 19, 2009, 3:07 pm
Filed under: Elections '09 | Tags: , , ,

Congress Party logo

India’s left-of-center Congress Party won a solid election victory this past weekend. The news is exciting – and surprising – for a few reasons.

1. Indian elections have a history of anti-incumbency, meaning that with each election, a new party is voted into power. This year, for the first time in over 40 years, Congress was re-elected. What changed? India’s economy remained resilient despite today’s global climate. (The growth rate hovers around 6%.) India’s voters realized that even in a time of crisis, the current government was doing something right. For example, agriculture yields were high this year. Those working in agriculture comprise the bulk of India’s voters, so their satisfaction with the status-quo government helped Congress.

2. Congress is a secular, non caste-based party. Its opposition, the Bharatiya Jananta Party, pushed its Hindu nationalist agenda forcefully during election campaigning. Voter preference for Congress’s less extremist messages is hopeful for a more stable Indian society, particularly during a time when issues as delicate as Pakistan and Sri Lanka are at the forefront.

3. The re-election of Manmohan Singh as India’s prime minister marks a shift in the nature of politics in India. A startling number of Indian politicians are uneducated, have criminal records, and landed their government positions through corrupt means. Manmohan Singh, on the other hand, is educated with a strong background in economics. Before serving as India’s finance minister and subsequently prime minister, he worked at the International Monetary Fund and the United Nations. His pro-business, pro-reform mindset indicates a progressive perspective, one that can direct India from its “old” politics towards redevelopment, globalization, and a new face for Indian government.