Page last updated at 00:28 GMT, Friday, 27 March 2009

High growth, low votes

Political parties in India who have delivered high economic growth have lost elections in the past. Economist Arvind Panagariya on how the state of the economy impacts voting behaviour in the country.

India shop front
India has recorded high economic growth in recent years

Predicting election outcomes in India is a hazardous activity; inferring them from economic performance is even more hazardous.

Going by per-capita income growth, one would predict a resounding victory for the ruling Congress party-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA).

At 7.4%, per-capita income growth during the first four years of the UPA rule has been by far the highest of any four-year period in India's post-independence history.

Yet, if the electorate goes by the contribution the present government has made to the accelerated growth in incomes, it would hand the latter its worst defeat.

The UPA government has perhaps done the least of all governments since the 1991 Narasimha Rao-led Congress administration to advance economic reforms.

At the outset, it committed itself to not reforming India's archaic labour laws. Sadly, it also failed to deliver in areas it had assigned high priority.

Unclear answers

Early in its tenure, the UPA had identified pension reform, further opening of the insurance sector and rapid build-up of the country's infrastructure as high-priority areas.

More than four years later, legislation to set up a pension regulatory authority and raising the share of foreign investors from 26% to 49% are languishing in parliament.

In the entirely uncontroversial area of infrastructure, the government lost the momentum its predecessor, the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, had achieved.

If the voters this time around vote on the basis of improvements in their lives, the UPA stands an excellent chance of returning to power

Even trade liberalisation, which greatly accelerated under the NDA government and was initially continued by the UPA, has come to a standstill in the past two budgets.

A costly National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, some additional opening up to foreign investment in the telecommunications sector, construction of new airports in Bangalore and Hyderabad, and the setting up of a Food Safety and Standards Authority and Competition Commission after four arduous years remain the main achievements of the government.

Will the excellent performance of the economy benefit the UPA? Or will its near paralysis in carrying forward the reforms hurt it?

Protests against economic reforms
Critics say growth has been inequitable

At least the past experience does not offer an affirmative answer in clear terms.

The government of Mr Rao, which came to power in June 1991, is credited with launching the most far-reaching and systematic economic reforms.

The reforms not only stabilised the economy following the 1991 balance of payments crisis, they also delivered the hefty 6.5% per annum growth during the last three years of his tenure.

Yet, he lost the 1996 election.

In a similar vein, led by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, the BJP-led NDA government undertook massive reforms in virtually all areas of economic activity during its tenure from 1998 to 2004.

Those reforms made a significant contribution to the shift in India's growth rate to the current 8% to 9% growth trajectory. In the last fiscal year of the NDA government, 2003-04, the economy grew 8.5%.

Yet, the NDA government lost power to the UPA.

The popular view is that the NDA lost the election because its reforms, highlighted via its "India Shining"' slogan during the election campaign, mainly benefited the urbanised, industrialised India and left the rural poor behind.

But this view scarcely stands up to close scrutiny: according to the available evidence, the proportion of the poor below the poverty line significantly fell in both rural and urban areas during Mr Vajpayee's rule.

Indian state highway
Infrastructure development has lost its momentum

Regional inequalities and the rural-urban divide did rise, as has happened in every country experiencing rapid growth at low levels of development, for the simple reason that rapid growth concentrates in a handful of urban agglomerations.

But that did not drive the election outcome either: there was neither an urban-rural nor a regional divide in the voting pattern.

The BJP-led NDA lost in richer states of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu while winning in the poorer states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

In the former group of states, it lost in both rural and urban areas while in the latter group it won in both.

In recent elections, two factors seem to have critically influenced the eventual outcome: coalition formation and anti-incumbency at state level.

Today, Congress has only 153 of the 272 seats it needs for a majority in parliament. The UPA consists of 11 parties and still needs the outside support of half a dozen other parties to achieve a majority.

A dramatic example of the importance of coalition politics is provided by the role played by the southern regional party, the DMK, in 2004.

It had been with the NDA in the 1999 election but switched allegiance to the UPA in the 2004 election. Its 16 seats, subtracted from the NDA and added to the UPA, provided the balance of votes the UPA needed to from the government.

In recent years, voters have returned state governments to power only when the latter have provided decisively good management and delivered perceptible improvement in living standards.

Therefore, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat represent a handful of the cases in which the electorate returned the incumbent governments back to power.

Excellent chance

In most cases, the electorate has handed punishing defeats to incumbents even if it has meant replacing them with another equally incompetent government.

India farmer
Farming employs the majority of India's workforce

In turn, the anti-incumbency factor at state level has spilled over to parliamentary elections. That factor substantially contributed to the losses the BJP, the dominant partner in the NDA, suffered in the 2004 election.

If the voters this time around vote on the basis of improvements in their lives, the UPA stands an excellent chance of returning to power.

Growth in agriculture, which employs 60% of India's workforce, has been 4% in the past four years. Prosperity in rural areas is also apparent from the spread of phones. Rural tele-density today is more than 13%.

Making the conservative assumption that each household has four members, this figure implies every other household in rural India now has a cell phone.

Even the sales of motorbikes and automobiles in rural areas are now on the rise. As for urban India, some slowdown in the economy due to the crisis notwithstanding, its face has been dramatically transformed in the past four years.

Why have the average or worse performing incumbents fallen out of favour with the voters?

After all until the 1980s, the electorate had routinely returned the incumbent governments to power. In a Wall Street Journal article in 2004, Jagdish Bhagwati and I hypothesised that the key factor behind the change in voter attitude was the "revolution of rising expectations" unleashed by the reforms and the resulting growth acceleration.

As long as India took the Hindu rate of growth, the voter remained in the grip of fatalism: kya karen, bhagwan ki marzi hai (What can we do, this is God's will!).

But once reforms showed him that change was possible and that poverty was not God's will, he became more demanding: If the incumbent won't deliver fast enough, he would try someone else.

In concluding, let me raise a slightly different question. Between the UPA and the NDA, the major contenders, who will provide a better government in the next five years?

Reform advocates who are also social liberals face a dilemma in answering this question.

The UPA is bound to interpret a victory as vindication of its current policies, which would seal the fate of reforms for another five years.

The NDA is more likely to return to the reforms it had vigorously promoted during its previous stint.

But alas, the NDA's prime ministerial candidate LK Advani, who lacks the moderation of his predecessor when it comes to Hindu-Muslim relations, leads it.

The author is Professor of Economics and Jagdish Bhagwati Professor of Indian Political Economy at Columbia University and Non-resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. His book India: The Emerging Giant was recently published by the Oxford University Press, New York.

Here is a selection of your comments.

This report claims decline in poverty since 2003. But all other reports on India points to ineffectiveness of high GDP growth rate on widespread poverty. According to a recent UN report, 44% of India's children are malnourished, a rate worse than sub Sahara countries. Who is correct?
Rajesh, USA

The author has not done a good job in his analysis. While he touched on the importance of coalition, he completely ignored a new coalition made of a number of national and state-based parties is under formation and may determine the fate of UPA (and perhaps that of NDA as well). The analysis seemed a little biased towards UPA!
Tony D'Silva, United States

'Good management and perceptible improvements in living standards' did not return the parties of Chandrababu Naidu and SM Krishna in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. One of the reasons floated was the undue concentration of both the above gentlemen on urban development. I think it is caste politics and promotion and cultivation of vote banks is the probable answer. Do you agree?
NS Chinnappa, India

In no other country, politicians would have got away scot-free after the suicide of thousands of farmers. On top of that government wasted millions of dollars on loan waiverment to farmers, which rarely reached the affected people. The country also witnessed many terror attacks and inflation is running out of control. The unfortunate part is, India still lacks the critical mass of either middle class or educated people to put fear in the minds of politicians, who are mired in corruption and well known for bad governance.
Sid, India

Thanks goodness the reforms were slowed (and I hope shelved now.) The mess would have been deeper had our insurance companies and pensions been allowed more control by the foreign companies.
Cavery, India

I think the author has failed to read recent articles in the news media which indicate that the NREGA scheme has lead to substantial rural development and is now paying off in the broader economy. He also fails to analyse why the rural economy has grown by 4 % despite bad monsoons. He also missed the all important RTI Act passed by the government, which has became a key tool to fight the pervasive corruption in the country.
Vikram, Austin, US

South Asian voters, vote for anticipated benefits, and not for actually received benefits! A Sri Lanka PM candidate offered rice free, and won resoundingly! When in power she actually legally banned consumption of rice on certain days of the week. Consider Chandrababu Naidu's current promise of free colour television sets !
Charitha, Sri Lanka

Indian voters who cast votes in most of the elections constitute mainly scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, Muslims, farm labourers, lower class from urban and metro towns. most upper class including well educated from urban and metro towns do not cast votes. If about 99 million youth voters now eligible to vote including educated and upper middle class from cities cast their votes there is likelihood that BJP can make come back. It is high time India must amend its constitution and Election policy on lines of Germany and USA.
Dr Amrit Patel,

Kill corruption and everything else will shine in India.
Chandru Narayan, USA

i had been in India during NDA rule. there was more communal harmony than in previous congress run governments. the NDA govt laid the foundation for widespread growth during their tenure. the present NDA candidate for PM had been deputy PM and senior most leader next only to Mr. Vajpayee- the pm. any PM can never run the govt. with communal mind. it is absurd to think that way. only congress party leaders and supporters can think and propagate in that manner. Advani is a very experienced national leader. he is in federal politics for more than four decades. if his party succeeds in winning the election and able to form the govt., Advani will provide the same efficient steady governance his predecessor has given. people know this but media distorts the political picture. media is not free from prejudices.
Rajendra Domadia, USA

The lack of growth in the pre-liberalisation era was because of poor choices made b Congress governments of the first 40 years of Independent India. I therefore suggest the term "Nehruvian rate of growth".
Srikanth, USA

Dr Panagariya claims India has had a per capita growth rate in excess of 7% for over four years now. Others claim India has had nearly a decade of over 4.5% per capita growth rates. Why then does India remain somewhere around 129 in the UNDP ranking of countries in terms of quality of life? With over a decade of such high per capita growth, why does India have nearly 2/3rds of its population subsisting on less than $2 per day? Frankly, a lot of these statistics are just bogus. Unlike economists like Dr Panagariya, voters seem to know that.
Sceptic , USA

"All politics is local" said former US House Speaker Tip O'Neal. So is it in India. All the myriad political parties in India pursue identical economic and foreign policies. They differ little in honesty or efficiency. Regional, cast and personality differences divide them. They also decide the fluid coalitions and their electoral fortunes. They give India's political scene the unique blend of colour and chaos, continuity and stability! The professional middle classes vote less and complain more. The poor masses vote regularly and alternate their choices between the two coalitions! Pundits may not be satisfied with this situation. But I am.
Thiruvengadam Ramakrishnan, USA - India

Firstly I would like to say that anyone who has not lived in India for a substantial part of their life is in no position to comment on whether the BJP or the Congress should come back to power. The country is in shambles due to corruption and its grinding slow bureaucracy. As someone rightly pointed, it is just a matter of the educated upper class as well as the educated youth who need to come forward to make sure whoever comes to power realises that he is in power because of people who want to see change and development all the time and not only 6 months prior to elections. 350 million is the number of youth in this country who are the main driving force for the future India. The power is in our hands to decide our future. Please vote!!!!
Subeer Monga, India

This time it is going to be interesting because (1) Around 500 constituencies have been redrawn, which will significantly change the voting pattern (2) Rise of the "third coalition" (god forbid it shouldn't) which will influence election significantly. And if they at all come to India, we will have to forget about economic growth for the next 5 years, and instead expect "caste liberalisation".
Ranga, India

Rural India is going through a dramatic turn, yet untouched by this article. Agricultural lands once in use are being abandoned since rural youth move into town and getting several times the amount of money they would earn by tilling land. This created severe shortage of essential food grains. Agricultural lands are become barren lands again. I witness this each year as I visit India. Cities grew unplanned, leading to shortage of water, transport bottlenecks and extensive pollution. Massive influx in educational institutions although useful, has provided little in terms of advancement of knowledge. An major debate was initiated by Prof CNR Rao who said "what India has is a large growth of high tech coolies". To back up his statement he indicated that while there are literally hundreds of thousands of computer literates, India hardly produced 25 PhDs in computer science in recent years. That paints a dismal picture, ignored by the IBMs and Microsofts of the world since they need clerks who can perform some of their "high tech jobs". UPA should take no credit for setting up airports in Bangalore and Hyderabad - these airports were "demanded" by business customers from Europe and North America. The UPA government reluctantly gave in to these demands.
Raghunandan, USA

This is the most bizarre analysis I ever read - the author seems to have total disregard for facts and data ... as someone already pointed out, real poverty has increased, not decreased since the reforms started. Then there was a urban/rural divide in voting patterns last time. In the list of state governments returned to power, West-Bengal is strangely lacking - perhaps because it does not confirm the hypothesis under discussion? It is totally untrue that all the states voted for the same party at the national and regional level - look at Gujarat for example. I could go on. Can the BBC not make sure that its contributors at last check their facts?
Muni, India

This election has the highest possibility of a third front emerging.
Kris Nunes, France

The analysis presented gives a historical review of what the citizens of India have been delivering while voting. In today's context, we require patriots of India-specially the enlightened and the younger generation of voters to vote as Indians first-so that there is an effective & strong government-ideal to serve the citizens in the Global contest. Otherwise, we shall slide into the dark ages! Perhaps, this is the future journey for our Nation now and I sincerely hope that such a will would prevail-to make us winners in this world.
Vijay Kirpal, Sultanate of Oman

The article is an example of how academics living outside and analysing the affairs in India and fail miserably. This is not to say that outsiders cant do the job accurately, but this analysis is far from reality, so much so that it doesn't deserve to be published!
Rahul Verma, UK

The author is equating economic reforms with good governance...integrating and modernizing the economy is important but not when the country has to pay for the divisive policies of the extreme right wing. Social stability is equally or more important requirement for a country to develop. The problem is not just with MrAdvani - what about the people who exert covert influence over BJP policy. I in fact feel if Mr Advani were free to act on his own, he will be more moderate than many others in the saffron camp.
Hari, USA

I agree that anti-incumbency is perhaps the most crucial factor, but I don't think the author gives the correct explanation for it. For a poor country like India, the absolute levels of poverty, nutrition, education, health care, and provision of other basic amenities for the rural and urban poor are more decisive than any relative improvements in recent years. India's aggregate growth rate has not even scratched the surface of its enormous human development problems. Not only has growth failed to change most people's lives, the inequalities and imbalances have worsened. These imbalances are obscenely evident in urban areas while in rural areas, forced acquisitions of land and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people is destroying even their bare means of sustenance.
Moni Talukdar, USA

Media Prejudice? Mr. Advani was the home minister when Gujarat burned and thousands lost lives and tens of thousands displaced and are now without a home. It is one thing to project himself as a change agent now with a secular and inclusive mask when his present glory among his supporters is mainly due to Babri Masjid and Hindutva rhetoric. As a Deputy PM and Home Minister I see no credentials in Mr Advani to make him future PM leave alone other BJP leaders. If hitting a community with stick and offering carrot on the other hand is communal harmony in your book, India does not deserve such harmony.
Munna , US

India requires a strong person at the top to cut Red tape set targets; make sure that Public money is not going into the pockets of corrupt politicians. If the right party is elected then I believe that India can become the next Singapore in the next 10 years, not the next 200, and this person (Party) will have to have candidates from abroad ever you like it or not.
Sukhi , UK

Until Indians start to get "real" Education, there will not be any real progress.
Siddarth, USA

The author simply wrote two lines about NDA led Mr Advani's hardline ideology on Hindu-Muslim divide. NDA's aggressive attitude towards Muslims will be its biggest hindrance while seeking votes from educated people. NDA has to learn that a national party can do better than instigating communal violence while seeking votes.
Shub, India

I think most of the comments put by the people here failed to understand the author's point of view. In essence what he wants to say is very simple that mostly the coalition's defeat is actually not a defeat of the party which leads that coalition but because of the performance of the state and small parties in their respective states. And actually its sad but a truth that Indian people still not able to separate the national politics from state politics and so their priorities
Anshul, Germany

The politics of politics in India is very complicated. The winners of the election will surely be those who gain the popular opinion of the people; unfortunately the popular opinion tends to be that of those who are able to reign in the actors and other such influences onto their side. Corruption is rampant everywhere, even the US, in India we know its there, in the US it is ignored (Bush suspended Habeas Corpus for the most blatantly inappropriate reason, there was no rebellion of the state). The problem with the democratic function of India is the people with the most vote are the people who would kill themselves when their favourite actor dies (MGR), and descend into a dystopia; the rural India. This catharsis of the death of their wanton vicarious lives, expressed through the life of this actor is an example of the lack of character in the Indian subcontinent. As Martin Luther King Jr. once said 'The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education.' Ultimately, education is the key to escape their own economic poverty. They must vote for the party that can make this change, or at least the one that falsely promises to.
Chinoy Mathew, India

It is a puzzle for me to see why BJP cannot find a young leader for projecting as PM. 55% of India's population is below 30 why do we have 70 and 80 year olds as leaders? We need a charismatic, qualified leader like Obama to lead our nation. Is there any party capable of representing the aspirations of youth of India? All parties cater only to caste, religion and personal greed. That is why our family in India has never voted.
Raja Iyer, Hong Kong

The Congress party is in a good position than in 2004 general elections. The urban voters are in favour of giving the congress party another chance to form the govt. The rural voters will also go for congress party. The regional parties would also increase their tally this time. The NDA will come back very strong in 2014. This time the congress party will go for rapid reforms as they will not have to please the communists who are fighting their toughest fight in their pockets because of anti incumbency factor and they are certainly going to lose a lot of seats.
Krishnendu Das, India

Inspite of the numbers that the author quotes, I would say, and it is a wide spread belief too, that the last decade where each the NDA and the UPA had its share of power, has been a lost decade. Expectations have been belied and opportunities have been lost. When Mr Vajpayee came to power it was expected that his government would charter a new way and give the country a vision for the 21st century and thus show that his party was a party with difference. However, NDA rule proved to be more Congress-like than the Congress itself. When Dr Manmohan Singh, became PM, there were hopes that with his dream team he would set the country on a new growth trajectory. However, after 5 years we find ourselves vulnerable both from security as well as economically. I find it even more unfortunate that at this critical juncture in history we find ourselves bereft of any options that can provide a capable leadership that can steer our country in these difficult times.
Shivi Krishna, India

A stereotypical article which is completely full of bias towards the Congress. The fact remains that even in the 21st century, the decisive factor that will determine which party wins is RELIGION. The Muslim 'minority' with their rather strong sense of unity will definitely vote for the Congress alongside a few neo liberal Hindus and Dalits. Where as the often disjointed Hindu majority who should be voting for the BJP is often brainwashed by the media as they frequently term the BJP as a right wing communal party. If I may ask, why doesn't anyone ever tag the Congress as communal? Isn't their minority appeasement programmes and involvement in the Sikh riots communal?
Gautam Mohan , Calcutta

The observation that Indian voters are now more concerned about their prosperity & over all growth is born out by recent state election's results. About 50% of India's population is below 25 years hence a large percentage of voters are young & ambitious & they are now voting/ want to vote . The prosperity in rural areas has been brought not only by increased agricultural production but more by higher procurement prices. If India has least effect of recession or if FMCG companies are showing consistent growth it is all credit to higher buying power in Rural areas. NREGS seems to be at least partly successful (talk to industry who blame shortage of labour at times to NREGS)So ordinarily these factors should favour UPA but as pointed out past general election results may not support such conclusion.
Vinod, India

We'll muddle along and survive, as we always have.
Arun Rao, San Francisco, USA

Predicting the Indian voters is risky business. However it can be said that the Indian voters most of whom are rural, low income and lower in social hierarchy don't make decisions on a clear rationale of good governance, strong economy etc. That if at all is a characteristic the more urbane and privileged section (also the most absentee electorate) of the society. However, amongst the former (the most likely voters) decisions are more often made on a mix of identity, patronage and emotion. Appealing to these instincts effectively (and perhaps successfully) can mean resorting to cynical/manipulative strategies at times supported by undemocratic tactics. The only axiom that applies is " Never take the Indian voter for granted".
Pravahan Salunke, Cincinnati, OH, USA

I visit my home country, India almost every year and come back with the evidence of rouge practices, dishonesty, greed for money by hook or crook; slow and inefficient systems, power cuts, no clean water supply and many other broken promises by the ruling parties.
Dhian Ubhi, UK

There is no point blaming politics with a nation far past its ability to feed people and no set standard for minimal wage as in North America. There is so much that a government can do, the rest is up to the people. And as the author talks about tele-density it is not the government given cell phones or subsidized service. Its an individual capacity to afford the phone and the service.
Srivatsa S Majeti, Canada

The author seems not just tilted towards the UPA government but also a promoter of FDI into the market, that too in the notorious insurance sector, which has failed miserably in the recession sector. Second, the article has a macro-perspective view. Politics are decided by many factors like regional affiliations, candidates chosen, caste, etc
Yogendra Kalavalapalli, India

It is a disgrace to know that out of the 543 or so MPs elected most of them should be behind bars if the legal system was free and fearless. In this scenario democracy has another meaning in this country ' for the politicians, of the politicians, and by the politicians'. So this fracas of elections is another festival coming every 5 years where the taxpayers money goes down the drain to prove one point or the other. The only solution seems to be to call a referendum for the establishment of only two parties to fight it out at the national and the state level, only then can be a meaningful election.
Dipak Ghosh, India

The only time Indians come out of their homes as a united socio-political force is during voting time. For the rest they enjoy cricket, films and watch the stories of corruption go by. Until and unless ordinary Indians come together to demand better roads, better education, better public services, better sanitation, better governance in a persistent and persevering manner, Indian society will not improve, no matter which government is ruling. What is needed is a collective consciousness for participatory citizenship and it must begin in the school or on the street. Indians only need to listen and learn from their great grand parents about the effectiveness of Gandhi's non-cooperation movement.
Peter G, Italy

Well written election story of India. But this time, with world markets in turmoil and security precarious,, the Indian electorate have to be wise in returning a stable government to the centre.
Christopher, India

For the India people, the choice is of two equally bad performers. Both are corrupt, poor decision makers, lack original ideas and have no solutions. They land up doing the same mistakes every time. Each time the incumbent government is rejected the new government thinks that it is a sign of approval of their policies. This is because they have run out of ideas and the Indian people are sick and tried of both parties. They have now reconciled to the idea of only showing their frustration. The educated minority do not vote because they feel it is a waste of time and their opinions are not going to matter. They are therefore, frustrated and disillusioned. The poor are frustrated with the incumbent government and want to throw them out. They can only vent their anger with a hope that the present government learns their lessons. Unfortunately, that does not happen and they are frustrated as well. It is a sad state of affairs.
Srinivasan Ranganathan, USA

The author is biased towards UPA. I think NDA will form a better government than UPA at the centre. We have wasted 50 years of Indian rule under the congress. Now its time people realize this and give BJP a chance to continue their reforms.
Charu Latha, USA

Mr Panagriya's assessment from purview of an economic slant and its impact on election result is absolutely right. In India large part of the electorate is swayed by sloganeering, promises and obvious biases like caste religion and regionalism which play a great part in the outcome of most elections. However, India needs a large mass of politically savvy section of the electorate to neutralise the above biases to effect a change for better. I disagree with his assessment of Mr LK Advani as a threat to Hindu-Muslim brotherhood as I find him a most intelligent and pragmatic leader and a very moderate at heart when it comes to running the government. The rhetoric apart(meant as an offence-defence against other parties played for the gallery)the NDA had no paucity of informed and open minded leadership. I feel progress in all aspects should continue making parties irrelevant and only the parties with good governance record with progressive and open minded approach should be at the helm.
Laxman Karajgikar, UK

"You get what you deserve". There is no point in blaming the corrupt politicians. The educated voters and younger generation of eligible voters should go out and vote and make their votes count.
R Ramesh, India

Article is true. Even though Manmohan Singh is a good and honest economist, he let the country down on the terror front. Survey says that more civilians died during UPA rule than NDA rule to terrorists attack. It is mainly because of inability to make decision due to division of power. Manmohan Singh never had the full power to make decisions. UPA also had alliance with backward looking left party and other parties which were more interested in minority appeasement. Like this article says, people don't care whether there is growth or not, but they do care about the price of onions. NDA lost because of onions, last time. UPA is going to lose because of weaker approach to terror.
Bharat, India

Let's get the economic history straight here - India was ruled mostly by congress till 1985 and official Congress model was Fabian socialism under Nehru and pure socialism under Indira Gandhi. Banks were nationalized by Indira Gandhi and Indian govt controlled means of production through license raj from steel, to earth moving equipment, to watches, to antibiotics, to even condoms. Hence growth rate during that period should be called socialistic or Congress rate of growth, The term Hindu growth rate was coined by Stalinist communists and other Leftists as an insult to India's majority. Historically when Hindus rule in India taxes were lowest (16%) compared to highest marginal income tax rate of 93% under Indira Gandhi's socialist rule. In India communists have ruled Kerala, West Bengal and Tripura for decades and these states have one of the lowest growth rates. Even NDA rule was not a purely Hindu rule since BJP was constrained by its partners such as socialistic small parties. But that was what a Hindu rule would come close to. So stop misinforming people and using prejudiced terminology.
SN Vyas, USA

The author seems to be pro-BJP as i am. Perhaps this is a reality, that most of the youth of the nation are with BJP, but i feel most of them would end up not voting.
Sandeep Khatri, USA

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