April 18, 2014
by Jeremy Loudenback
The dimensions of American myopia are well established. From climate change to health care, the American way of doing business is not always universal. Democracy—that great civic religion—is no different. India, not the United States, boasts the largest democracy in the world, and the nation of 1.2 billion is currently in midst of a mammoth general election. Starting April 7 and running until May 12, the staggered election process for the Lok Sabha (lower parliament) will feature an amazing 815 million registered voters heading to the polls with an expected budget of $5 billion dollars, second only to the 2012 U.S. presidential election. India hews to a Westminster system, meaning that after all the votes are tallied for the parliament, the party with the most seats will have the chance to form a government or direct a majority coalition and likely anoint a prime minister from within its ranks.
Yesterday, the largest round of voting in India’s elections took place, with 121 seats up for grabs across 12 states. The story thus far has been the rise of Narendra Modi, the leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is widely expected to bounce incumbent Manmohan Singh and his Congress Party from rule. The BJP espouses a muscular brand of Hindu nationalism mixed with a strong economic platform, and combined with frustration with the Congress Party’s inept leadership and a slowed economy, Modi’s agile stewardship of the northwestern Gujarat state has won him popularity from the business sector as well as staunch Hindu nationalists. (more…)