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Friday, May 14, 2004

 

Challenges Ahead...

A major theme of Congress nay-sayers has been that the outgoing BJP has lead India towards the 21 Century and amazing GDP growth rates and that the Congress party will go back to old ways of socialism. On the contrary, many things actually point to the Congress & BJP having very similar economic plans. However, rather than focusing simply on maintaining GDP numbers, Congress leadership needs show the way towards distribution of these trends to the rural majority. If Congress hopes to sustain support, the party must show that it can lead the rural masses to the pot at the end of the rainbow. It cannot continue to hope for windfall monsoons and IT leadership in city-centers, it must develop better ways to get the rural economy in lock-step with the rest of the economy.

Panchayati Raj is something which the Congress Party can surely build a foundation upon. Just as IT has given power to many formerly powerless city-dwellers (and helped them to become business owners, CEOs, and yuppies), the village-based Panchayati Raj gives power to a much lower level and creates a self-governance. The challenge for the Congress Party lies in determining the best way to empower village leaders to improve their own lots in life. Tying this into the agricultural economy can indeed sustain GDP numbers while spreading the wealth and benefits to a much larger set of people.

There are certainly many other things which Congress et al need to think about, but if the government can help a village stand on its own, it has in effect, given those villagers the ability to vote everyday instead of just when national elections are called. While I'm a cynic when it comes to politicians and their seedy ways, I do believe that a sincere leadership at the center can minimize the effect of self-serving politicians and empower villagers to govern themselves.

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