27 September, 2020

Project Kalahandi

Project Kalahandi
Election 2004 has confounded both the punters and the pundits. Of the several conundrums thrown up is the query: was it a vote against reforms? After all, two of the most visible and garlanded faces of globalisation—Chandrababu Naidu and S.M. Krishna—were humiliated, while the politician who promised free power to farmers—Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy—emerged victorious. The received wisdom among the political class cautions against reading the verdict as a signal to return to the bad old days of the ’70s and ’80s. Nobody, not even the Communists, wants the state to run hotels and bread factories.

Nevertheless, the counter-argument that the electorate has not only given a thumbs-up to reforms but a thumbs-up to widen and deepen reforms is a trifle suspect. Indeed, some free-market ayatollahs maintain the result should be interpreted as more reforms, not less reforms. Even the generally wise New York Times columnist, Thomas Friedman, in a series of pieces for his paper, concludes that the Indian voter has sent a clear and urgent message to his rulers: quicken the...



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