In his introduction to the 15th Anniversary edition of INDIA UNBOUND: FROM INDEPENDENCE TO THE GLOBAL INFORMATION AGE, Gurucharan Das points to the significance of Modi’s victory
A) Modi’s victory helped us attain dignity
B) Modi’s rhetoric during the campaign made people believe that anyone could aspire to middle class status and thus he has invited us to be more imaginative in thinking about the nature of human dignity
He appeals for a correction of our misguided notion about what constitutes a dignified life.
He writes, “If Indians won their political freedom in Aug 1947 and their economic independence in July 1991, they attained dignity in May 2014. This was the significance of Narendra Modi’s landslide victory”.
No political party has bothered to explain the difference between “pro-market” and “pro-business”. This has led many to believe that the markets makes the rich richer and the poor poorer and leads to corruption and crony capitalism. This is the REAL reason for the slow pace of reform. What we is glossed over is the fact that India experienced a golden decade of growth from 2002 to 2012. The GDP growth averaged over 8 percent a year and lifted millions out of poverty. In fact, this falsifies the Leftist view that markets would impoverish the working class.
Sadly, the congress party concluded after its 2004 victory that India’s free market reforms were not helping the poor and instead changed its focus to spending on welfare. This strained the economy and lowered investor confidence. The hopes of millions of people were dashed.
We need to correct our misguided notion about what constitutes a dignified life. Gurucharan Das points that the typical voter who elected Modi in 2014 was NOT a Hindu Nationalist. Rather, they were young, middle of the road person who had migrated to a small town. Modi’s call for Vikas became a code word for opportunity. Modi’s landslide victory invited us to be more imaginative in thinking about the nature of human dignity. Modi’s rhetoric during the campaign made people believe that anyone could aspire to middle class status. Gurcharan Das is more than hopeful. He contends, “ India has in Narendra Modi an outstanding salesman of ideas who could transform the master narrative of its political economy”.
Ours is the age of rising expectations in the East. The big story of the past fifteen years is the story of continuing rise of China and India based on the liberal economic idea of the market. The rise of a third of humanity is good news for the world. It proves that free trade and multiplying connections to global economy are pathways to lasting prosperity.