The Developing Nation

'Flash forecast' panel explores popular discontent

L to R: Rama Bijapurkar, Rajeev Bhargava, and Mohan Guruswamy in Mumbai on February 25, 2014. (Asia Society India Centre)

MUMBAI, February 25, 2014 — As election season knocks on India's door, questions abound. What can be done to reinvigorate the country's economic growth, meet public demand for greater accountability, and combat poverty, while ensuring security for citizens on the street, and safeguarding national strategic interests? Political parties are already competing to prove that they have answers to these questions, and positioning candidates for national leadership.

To analyze how the country's varied political actors are trying to make their case to the public, Asia Society India center hosted a conversation titled "Flash Forecast: Indian Elections 2014," with Rajeev Bhargava, Director of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, and Mohan Guruswamy, Chairman and Founder of Centre for Policy Alternatives, and moderated by Rama Bijapurkar, Market Strategy and Consumer Expert.

Rajeev Bhargava started off the conversation with an analysis of the Indian political landscape, and the public sentiment surrounding this coming election. He emphasized the "crisis of legitimacy," that was currently afoot and how popular discontent, directed at the government and established political parties, was at a fever pitch.

His points were expanded upon by Mohan Guruswamy, who emphasized the country's issues with governance in a nuanced manner. Detailing how the country was originally established as a "hybrid democracy," in which government would operate at "a federal, state, and local level," he went on to explain that this system had become disjointed. He explained that while the central and state governments encompass a huge amount of public spending, the local level of government "at which citizens interface with the state," lacked any real presence and power in issues of policy. Coupling this with the crisis of legitimacy factor, Guruswamy explained, was the key to understanding Indian public sentiments today.

Reported by Uditinder Thakur, Programme Assistant, Asia Society India Centre

Video: Highlights from the programme (6 min., 16 sec.)