L to R: Milan Vaishnav (on monitor), Sadanand Dhume, Shikha Dalmia, and Arvind Panagariya at Asia Society New York on February 4, 2013. (Elsa Ruiz/Asia Society)
India continues to capture headlines around the world — as its election campaign heats up, and the diplomatic scuffles between the U.S. and India continue — and so it was a good occasion for another Beyond the Headlines treatment Tuesday night, about these issues and the broader question about what an India led by current election front-runner Narendra Modi might look like.
Sadanand Dhume, a Resident Fellow at AEI (and a former Asia Society Bernard Schwartz Fellow), noted that while "polls in India have been spectacularly wrong," many are imagining what the "Modi Model" will look like for the country. In Dhume's view, Modi would bring three major economic changes: the "novelty" of paying for electricity use; a priority placed on improved infrastructure; and the more nuanced but important fact that Modi — who as Governor of Gujarat State has presided during a period of dramatic economic growth — would be unapologetic for his close ties to business.
Milan Vaishnav, an Associate in the South Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, D.C, lamented the miserable state of major government institutions — law enforcement, security, hospitals — and the fact that in recent years nearly a third of all members of parliament have found themselves under indictment.
Optimism came from Arvind Panagariya, Professor of Indian Political Economy at Columbia University, who pronounced himself bullish on his country's future. Panagariya's specific prediction is that within 15 years India will vault pass other nations to the #3 position among global economic powers, behind only China and the United States.
Shikha Dalmia of the Reason Foundation moderated the event.
Video: Contrasting economic claims from the Congress Party and the BJP (5 min., 45 sec.)