Globalization and Indian elections

“Thomas Friedman has an article”:http://www.nytimes.com/2004/06/06/opinion/06FRIE.html explaining why the anti-globalization movement has lost its steam. To explain this, he uses the example of the recent elections in India.

bq. To everyone’s surprise, India’s elections ended with the rightist Hindu nationalist B.J.P. alliance being thrown out and replaced by the left-leaning Congress Party alliance. Of course, no sooner did the B.J.P. ? which ran on a platform of taking credit for India’s high-tech revolution ? go down than the usual suspects from the antiglobalization movement declared this was a grass-roots rejection of India’s globalization strategy. They got it exactly wrong. What Indian voters were saying was not: “Stop the globalization train, we want to get off.” It was, “Slow down the globalization train, and build me a better step-stool, because I want to get on.” [“NY Times”:http://www.nytimes.com/2004/06/06/opinion/06FRIE.html, regn reqd]

When you talk about anything in India, you cannot come up with a simple theory. For example in my home state of Kerala, there was no rapid globalization movement. Kerala is already a globalized state with most of the revenues coming from NRIs. The problem there was the infighting between two groups of Congress, which caused most of the people to vote for the Communists. But in many other states Friedman’s theory holds true. The prosperity advertised by the “India Shining” campaign did not reach the people who actually go out and vote.

The advice he has for the anti-globalization crowd is apt.

bq. My own recent travels to India have left me convinced that the most important forces combating poverty there today are those activists who are fighting for better local governance. The world doesn’t need the antiglobalization movement to go away now ? it just needs for the movement to grow up. It had a lot of energy and a lot of mobilizing capacity. What it lacked was a real agenda for helping the poor. Here’s what its agenda should be: Helping the poor by improving governance ? accountability, transparency, education and the rule of law ? at the local level, by using the Internet and other tools to spotlight corruption, mismanagement and tax avoidance. It may not be as sexy as protesting against world leaders on CNN, but it is a lot more important. Ask any Indian villager.

2 Comments

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  2. I WANT TO BE RICH TOO!

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