The checks and balances thought to be boons of democracies are now coming in for scrutiny as countries like the USA and India struggle to implement much needed economic reforms. Against the backdrop of China, with its strong communist-style state and relatively strong growth, democracies are faced with “policy paralysis” and “partisan bickering” where opposition parties are accused of stalling legislation for the sake of keeping political rivals in check. Have our political systems reached a stage where conditions need to deteriorate significantly before change is allowed in the political system? What role does the corporate world and civil society have to play in ensuring that our systems, designed for balance and accountability, deliver with efficiency and regularity? How can we foster an accountable government committed to positive reform over political maneuvers?
Gurcharan Das is an author, commentator, public intellectual and the former CEO of Procter & Gamble India. He is a columnist for The Times of India and is a contributor to the Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, Foreign Affairs and Newsweek. His bestsellers include India Unbound: The Social and Economic Revolution from Independence to the Global Information Age, and The Difficulty of Being Good. Das is a member on the international advisory boards of several Fortune 100 companies and is a frequent commentator for CNN, BBC and PBS. He is also general editor for a 15-volume series, The Story of Indian Business, of which three volumes have already appeared.
Sadanand Dhume is Resident Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. He writes about South Asian political economy, foreign policy, business and society, with a focus on India and Pakistan. He is also a South Asia columnist for the Wall Street Journal. He has worked as a foreign correspondent for the Far Eastern Economic Review in India and Indonesia and was a Bernard Schwartz Fellow at the Asia Society in Washington, D.C. His political travelogue about the rise of radical Islam in Indonesia, My Friend the Fanatic: Travels with a Radical Islamist, has been published in four countries.
Adam Roberts is South Asia correspondent for The Economist, based in Delhi, where he oversees political and general coverage from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal, among other countries. Roberts joined The Economist as a writer in the Foreign Department, with a particular focus on developing countries and transnational issues. He has also served as the Southern Africa correspondent based in Johannesburg and the News Editor of Economist.com in London. He has written special reports on the Nordic countries and on International Migration, and has written a book about a mercenary coup attempt in Equatorial Guinea, The Wonga Coup.
India Grows at Night: A Liberal Case for a Strong State by Gurcharan Das
This book argues that while many Indians wryly admit "India grows at night," the full expression is "India grows at night… when the government sleeps" — suggesting that the nation may be rising despite the state. Author Gurcharan Das says that India’s is a tale of private success and public failure, and asks how a nation could become one of the world’s fastest-growing economies when it is governed by a weak, ineffective state. What India needs, Gurcharan Das says, is a strong liberal state. Such a state would have the authority to take quick, decisive action; it would have the rule of law to ensure those actions are legitimate; and finally, it would be accountable to the people. But achieving this will not be easy, says Das, because India has historically had a weak state and a strong society.
This event takes forward Asia Society India Centre’s series of discussions on Accountability and Development
. Our previous events include a discussion
between Aruna Roy
, Member of the National Advisory Council, and Manu Joseph
, Editor of Open
magazine, around how to manage dissent in democracy; and a conversation
with Vinod Rai
, Comptroller and Auditor General of India, Adi Godrej,
Chairman of Godrej Industries and President of CII, and Nachiket Mor
, Chairman of Sughavazhvu Healthcare, on the opportunities and challenges of using democratic systems to enhance transparency.
In partnership with: