India Uncut

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Thursday, December 01, 2005

Liberalisation’s Children?

Ramesh Venkataraman writes in the Indian Express:
Liberalisation’s children are less aggrieved than upwardly mobile. Along with Bunty aur Babli (but thankfully in more conventional ways), they are eager to get in on the economic action they see around them and on their TV sets. What they are demanding from their politicians are effective public services and infrastructure (the bijli, sadak, paani, padhai of the slogans), a measure of probity, and a push to attract investment and create jobs that will give them a fighting chance to move up in life.

In short, we are moving from a politics obsessed with redressing historic wrongs — Indira Gandhi’s Garibi Hatao, militant labour and kisan movements of the ’70s and ’80s, Mandal, Mandir — to one focused on attaining future dreams. Equally, today’s electorate is starting to view government less as a mai-baap granting entitlements — seats in colleges, jobs in the public sector, subsidies — and more as an enabler of opportunities. This is a quintessentially middle class ethos in the making, even if material reality for the vast majority is still a long way from middle class levels.
Oh, I wish all that Venkataraman writes were really happening, but I fancy he is being a touch too optimistic. What he writes might be true of him and me and many of the readers of this blog, but it is not true of most of India, which still votes on issues that center around identity politics and populism. The results of this election are no more indicative of a larger truth than Modi's win in Gujarat or Naidu's loss in AP. The battle for progress is tougher than it appears.

Cross-posted on The Indian Economy Blog.
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