Sunday, May 10, 2009
INDIAN POLITICS ...
India is a vast country with more than 1 billion people and made up of 28 states and 7 territories many of whom have larger populations and land areas than most European states. The largest state, Uttar Pradesh, has a population which would make it the fifth most populous country in the world if it was an independent country.
It is the most populous democratic country in the world, having continued with a parliamentary democratic regime for most of the time since independence in 1947 (with the exception of the State of Emergency period from 1975-7). Politically, there are a vast number of divides – ethnic, linguistic, religious, class and caste-based – which are politically salient. Despite this, however, the nature of the first-past-the-post electoral system still serves to divide most of the parties into two different coalitions and blocs.
Firstly, there is the current governing coalition – which calls itself the United Progressive Alliance and which came to power after the 2004 elections . It is dominated by the Congress Party – which has traditionally dominated Indian politics. The opposition is called the National Democratic Alliance and is dominated by the BJP – which is traditionally seen as a Hindu-nationalist party in contradiction to the secular nationalism of Congress.
Both the NDA and UPA coalitions contain a wide variety of regional parties in them. For example, in the southern State of Andra Pradesh, the BJP is allied with Telugu Desam – which is a regionalist, Teulgu nationalist party, representing the largest ethno-linguistic group in the state. In Tamil Nadu, both the Congress and the BJP have regionalist parties who are their allies – the DMK and the AIADMK respectively.
The communist parties – who are grouped together in the Left Front – also do well in some areas, but are not a presence at all in other states. In West Bengal, they have governed the state for the best part of the last four decades and they alternate power with Congress in the state of Kerala in the south. At a national level, the Left Front is affiliated to the United Progressive Alliance and supports the present government from the outside.
The political alignments in India show the tendency of first-past-the-post systems to produce a 2-bloc system – even in such an ethnically and linguistically and religiously fragmented country. The existence of a federal system also enables ethno-linguistic groups to have a degree of autonomy, without the need to achieve actual independence. This has proved successful in reducing the degree of secessionist demands from political forces in the south and the north-east of the country.
Furthermore, and of more concern for the Left, the nature of political discourse and rhetoric in the country makes it difficult for the communists and others on the Left to make a major impact. By mobilising people on ethnic, religious and caste lines, the scope for the Left to make an independent appeal on the basis of class and ideology to voters has been limited, outside of certain areas. When they have been able to achieve power in a state, as they have done in Kerala and West Bengal on repeated occasions, they have managed to make a positive impact on the lives of people in the state. Kerala in particular, under successive Communist and then Congress administrations, has managed to reduce illiteracy and increase life expectancy to far higher levels than those in the rest of the country and in the rest of the developing world. It shows that, where there is the political will, a government can modernise and tackle poverty and backwardness within a developing country despite the obstacles that exist.
However, the current pro-market approach taken by the government of Manmohan Singh does not prioritise direct assistance to improve the conditions of the rural poor. Under the influence of right-wing economists, the World Bank and the IMF, the government has been following free-market policies. These policies seem to have raised the growth rate (although not to as high a level as in China) but the benefits of the growth do not seem to have benefited the poorest – as hundreds of millions still live in absolute poverty. The failure to tackle this was one of the reasons for the change of government in 2004 and the defeat of the 1999-2004 BJP government. Congress needs to avoid making the same mistake if it is not to lose in 2009 to resurgent forces on the Right.
So for now, we have to just wait and which big man wins this year's elections ! hope the best and deserving candidate wins !
and hope you all friends and people voted !