Sunday, 8 December 2013

Voters in India want their country to be a land of dreams

The election results of four major Indian states Chattishgarh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi spelt a major blow for the Congress –led UPA government at the Centre. The ruling Congress party has been bogged by a series of huge corruption scandals, poor governance and mismanagement of the economy.

The results couldn’t have been better for the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), whose prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 national elections, Narendra Modi has become a new hero in Indian politics. It’s mainly because of his government’s ability to deliver good governance and a steady economic growth in the western Indian state of Gujrat. It’s believed that if the rest of India could match Gujarat’s economic model and growth, India could easily outstrip France’s economy.

What is remarkable about the election results in Delhi is the spectacular performance of the Aam Admi Party(AAP) which literally means a common man party. The debutant party campaigned in style promising to clean up Indian politics and led a very aggressive door-to-door campaign. Their strategic campaign caught up the imagination of many of India’s young and first time voters-   and it paid off.

The election results and manner in which people voted reflects a changing dynamics in the fast changing Indian society. Delhi, for example, is made up of urban voters, whose living standard and access to public facilities are better compared to other states that went to polls earlier this week. There is also a vibrant media and people are well informed. The divisive politics of caste and religion that characterized Indian political landscape in 1990s doesn’t really hold ground in Delhi.

For the rest of India too, the 2014 national elections are going to be very different, again because a big chunk of first time voters are young and have aspirations for a better life.

When India voted in earlier elections, the country was still at the early stages of economic growth, and many of the first time voters were growing up. These new voters have seen what it means to be prosperous, rich, and modern – partly due to the media and globalization. Unlike their parents, who had a different mindset and really didn’t have access to a lot of new things like the media, the internet, mobile phones and a view of the larger world. The new generation, on the other hand, has role models within the society. There are rich and well to do families in the neighborhood that have had the privilege of good education and other basic things in life. They are increasingly aware that development and corruption free governance is what eventually counts. In this aspect, Modi’s development model in Gujrat and his charisma makes him popular.

Indian society is like the waves in the sea - the ones that come later are more powerful and larger. Earlier, being a product of public school, foreign educated and coming from a dynastic background did matter, not just in politics but also in the society at large.  Thanks to India’s educated middle class, IT boom and economic growth millions joined what was earlier an exclusive growth.

Now millions more have joined in on the first rung in that ladder, from living in a state of absolute ignorance to be able to see the light at the end of tunnel.  Millions more are waiting in the wings. They are aware of their rights, want to grow and have a say.

 It’s with this belief they have voted in Delhi and else where, and this might also echo in the national elections: they want India to be a land of dreams.