The 2019 General Election: Who Will Lead India to a US$5tn Economy?
India’s general election, the ‘world’s largest exercise in democracy’, is now underway with the first votes in a multi-phase process cast, with result to be announced on the 23rd of May. While opinion polls are projecting a wide range of outcomes, they currently favour a win by the incumbent BJP and its leader, Prime Minister Narendra Modi. If elected, Mr. Modi would be entrusted with the responsibility to lead India during one of the most critical periods in the country’s history. Following nearly two decades since India’s initial economic liberalisation, during which the country has seen strong, if volatile growth, India today is on the cusp of entering a new phase of growth that will take the country from US$3tn GDP this year to $5tn by the next general election in 2024. During this period, the country is set to undergo massive economic, political and social changes, and India’s next government will need to be the steward of this transformation for the country to meet its full potential and to assume a position commensurate with its rise in global significance. India’s likely trajectory over the next decade paints the backdrop against which both major parties in this election should be determining their government manifestos, driving important priorities like deepening reforms, attracting capital, increasing transparency and removing obstacles to growth. However, both the BJP and Congress appear to have incorporated these factors to only a limited extent in their public pronouncements, pursuing more traditional election strategies largely built around identity politics, recent track records, and criticism of their opponents. While they may have taken the view that these are the tactics that will lead to electoral success, India’s next government will ultimately need the vision and execution capabilities to steer India’s continued rise during its next phase of growth. Importantly, India’s growth and transformation are also leading to increasingly significant changes in Indian society, driving the growth of a rising new electorate, whose demands are closely tied to drivers of India’s rise, and who will extract the price from leaders who fail to be trustworthy stewards of that rise.Read More Archived copies of Sign of the Times