A new government in New Delhi

modiGenerally, 800 million-strong Indian voters, one third of who live below the poverty line, are not known to vote for the economic acumen of their political leaders. They have historically voted for dynastic political heirs, film stars, gangsters and fraudsters, all of whom were anything but competent policy makers and economic managers. Under such leaderships, India has repeatedly squandered its economic fortune and is lagging far behind its neighbour, China. 
 
That is exactly why the latest election results coming from New Delhi is a refreshing departure from the old Indian voting habits. The Bharatiya Janatha Party (BJP) and its allies in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), which campaigned on a pro-development platform, have swept large swathes of Indian electorate, from Kashmir to Tamil Nadu. 
 
At the time of writing this editorial, NDA was forecast to win 324 seats of the 543 Parliament, with the BJP alone getting 275, two seats more than the required 273 mark to form a government. The Modi Wave as it is called and named after the charismatic BJP Leader, Narendra Modi, has swept through both modern India and its poverty struck rural hamlets, where lives have changed little since the British left the subcontinent some 65 years ago.
Indian elites prefer to pin the blame for country’s poor economic performances on its vibrant, yet chaotic democracy. But it is not democracy. However the lack of economic foresight and the absence of political will to implement reforms that have caused the inertia in the Indian economy.
 
 
Indian voters, especially the middle class and the energetic youth, hope that Modi, a no nonsense politician who wants to build bullet trains and IT parks in India would revive the economy. Modi, the Gujarat Chief Minister has transformed his state, from an agrarian backwater to a major industrial power house. His supporters and Indian business leaders expect the Gujarat’s success story would now be replicated in India.
India, bolstered by its demographic bulge is a land full of opportunities. Yet, it has realized very little of its potentials. Politics at the Centre which force political parties to get into unstable coalition governments have impeded mandatory economic reforms and development projects. One of the most recent was the spurning of the retail bill – which could have brought an estimated US$ 400 billion foreign investment into the country – by the Congress Government due to the opposition by its coalition allies.
 
 
In this context, the BJP’s resounding victory at the latest polls, which forecasts that it alone would secure the commanding majority augurs well for India’s economic liberalization. This is the first time since Congress’s win in 1984, which was bolstered by the sympathy vote over the assassination of late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, that a single political party or an alliance secured the majority vote in the Indian Parliament. This time the Indian voters have voted for development, investment and social and economic infrastructures. The BJP would now have a greater freedom of action, which its predecessor did not have to deliver on those campaign promises.
India’s future is intrinsically linked to the future of the free world, more over that of South Asia. India’s moribund economy has dampened the allure of democracy in this part of the world. Whereas Communist China is growing at a breathtaking speed, which with even its reduced growth estimates of seven per cent are far ahead of the global standards.
 
 
Also, India’s failure to lead the region as the world’s largest democracy and the possible predecessor to the declining United States has resulted in the reversal of democratic gains in countries, including, some located within its traditional sphere of influence.
If the new government in New Delhi kicks start its flagging economy and reinvigorates its activist foreign policy, yesterday’s electoral verdict would be a landmark in the Indian history and that of the free world. That would truly be invoking India’s ‘Tryst with Destiny’.
We in Sri Lanka could expect to reap the windfalls of a rising India, not only economically, but also politically and diplomatically.