Bloomberg Columnist: “Why I’m Losing Hope In India”

A latest op-ed on India says, “This crisis is different than others we have weathered, that the walls are closing in again, and the opportunity set for India is shrinking, perhaps for a very long time. The national dream of emulating China’s rapid growth is receding – by some economic yardsticks, we can’t even keep up with Bangladesh”.

The author, Andy Mukherjee, a Bloomberg Opinion columnist, says “the problems began in the complacency of the mid-2000s. That’s when India should have looked beyond software and semiconductor design”.

It was never going to be easy for India to emulate its neighbor (China), whose single-party state struck a bargain with foreign investors…Such stratagems weren’t possible in India’s noisy, federal democracy.

In our view, Mukherjee’s article highlights three issues: 1. This crisis is different than others. 2. The race to emulate China’s rapid growth is receding. 3. India can’t even keep up with Bangladesh.

We have been pointing out that there’s more than “economy binaries” that meet the eyes –some independent observers and analysts have been agreeing.

The article alludes to PM Modi-led government’s whimsical decision-making and its fallout on the country’s economic plank. While some independent observers agree, one of them has been telling –that India “has been fudging numbers and this is coming back to haunt them and others now, “as international institutions keep silent” says the author.

 “The rapid deterioration in the country’s polity, economy, regional position and global standing were unimaginable until a few years back, but the rise of Hindu extremist politics in the world’s so-called largest democracy has stripped India of its thin veneer of Nehruvian secularism,” writes Syed Hasan Javed, a former Ambassador and the current Director of the Chinese Studies Center at the School of Social Sciences and Humanities, NUST, Islamabad.

An Asia-Pacific based analyst who has authored several books on South Asia and US-China relations takes a horizon view beyond just numbers and indices. According to him, the RSS has for decades sought to impose a unitary, majoritarian, north-Indian Brahminic view of Hindu faith-based structure on the polity. “With this view now preeminent among north-Indian elites supported by the permanent bureaucracies and state organs, BJP champions believe they have established the ‘real’ India.”

“Their view and vision of India are as diverse as are their culinary practices and musical preferences”.

Ask the Vaishnavite Hindus of Manipur, Christians of Nagaland and Mizoram, Jath Sikhs of Punjab, or even Hindus of Tamil Nadu or Kerala, he says, to reinforce his take.

According to him, “India is not a nation, or a nation-state. It is a subcontinent-sized multi-cultural, multi-ethnic federal polity”, he says, and a mega consumer society to attract global attention, points out an observer.

Other than these independent views, the hiccups and the closing of walls, and the shrinking for a very long time, and the view that India “can’t even keep up with Bangladesh” may not matter even though, as another op-ed (by Sanjay Kumar) points out that”India has never looked so vulnerable and edgy in its own neighborhood as it looks now”.

Mukherjee says: “Those of us who thought that muscular leadership would revive India’s dream of mimicking Chinese-style double-digit expansion are not just disappointed. For many of my generation, our long-cherished hope for a better, greater India is all but gone. We wanted to trade some of our democratic chaos for a little bit more growth. We ended up with less of both”.

But the West will be prepared to overlook much of this…as the exigencies of balancing China would force the West into a “constrained acquiescence to partnership, according to Mukherjee.

Bloomberg Columnist Mukherjee’s op-ed…