A closer examination of Singh's record reveals a combination of both profound failure and accomplishment. Far from being settled, Singh's legacy is likely to remain the subject of vigorous debate for years to come.
In May 2013, Pakistan had overwhelmingly voted for the head of the right-wing Pakistan Muslim League (P.M.L.) to become the country's prime minister for a third term, while the Indians also voted for a controversial Hindu nationalist leader.
The Indian people have voted for hope and credible change for very good reason. It's too early to burst the Modi bubble just yet.
The ghost of Jawarharlal Nehru could well be an uninvited guest at the banquet marking the swearing-in of Narendra Modi. Tuesday, May 27 will mark Modi's first official day as the 15th prime minister of India. It will also mark the 50th death anniversary of Jawarharlal Nehru, India's first prime minister.
The BJP's convoluted "Hindutva" ideology, a curious and contradictory mix of cultural revivalism, economic Darwinism and militant nationalism, has always been rooted in anger. Much of it has been directed against India's liberals, leftists, Dalits (as "untouchables" now call themselves) and the Muslim, Christian and other minority communities. The BJP's view is that they have milked the system and public sympathy for undue benefits, which the Congress and other parties have showered on them for electoral, and not national benefit.
Whether or not Modi succeeds remains to be seen. His BJP has a majority of its own, having won the election without resorting to creating a coalition, but the economic reality is complex, and the jury is out on whether Modi can build the total consensus that a national leader needs.
Whatever words the commentators use - "extraordinary," "remarkable," "unprecedented" are some of the most common ones - there is general agreement that Mr. Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party changed the political landscape of India.
What Modi offered to voters was in effect a mix of market-friendly growth, muscular nationalism rooted in Hindu lore and the promise of a militarily-strong India. The extent to which this mix proved to be an elixir, particularly for India's young, aspirational, technology savvy generation, would be obvious from the outcome of the elections. The Congress party has suffered its worst defeat in its history. Parties that banked on the votes of the lower castes and Muslims have been routed. And those controlled by families in the states have been flattened. Modi's appeal has thus cut across India's traditional fault lines. In one fell swoop, the BJP has widened its social base and, no less important, established its presence in virtually every state of India. It can now legitimately hope to fill the void created by the debacle faced by the avowedly secular and populist parties. This election therefore heralds a tectonic shift in Indian politics.
Despite misgivings of certain sections -- Modi is yet to completely wipe off the perception of being a 'divisive leader' in the civil society -- an overwhelming number of voters have extended strong support to the BJP.
Indians are caught between a rock and hard place. On one hand they want the government to reignite India's economic growth. And yet the party with the most pro-business credential is also cloaked in anti-modern social views that will further disadvantage India's struggling minorities and women.
The rhetoric of this election and the concomitant actions of extremist political players point to the emergence of a less tolerant India. Does change in governance have to mean the exclusion from the social compact of those whose beliefs do not resonate with those of a shrill and increasingly violent majority?
Keen India watchers know that the 2014 elections are likely to be India's most influential in three decades.
It has been described by one newspaper as the "dance of democracy," and by another as "Mahabharata," after the Indian epic that tells the story of an ancient war between two warring dynasties. Whatever you might call it -- Hillary Clinton called it "the global gold standard" -- India's elections are here.
On account of his strident nationalism, rooted in right-wing Hindu ideology, and the pro-market policies he espouses, Narenda Modi's critics fear the emergence of 'soft fascism' in India while for those very reasons his fans hail him as Kalki -- the last avatar of the Hindu divinity Vishnu who will bring peace and prosperity in abundance to the hapless motherland.
Since the country's independence from the British, the Congress Party has insured and managed the political domination of
The world's largest democracy is set to go to the polls from April 7 to May 15. At stake is nothing less than its much-lauded position as an emerging economic powerhouse and its much-hoped-for transformation into a bulwark of modern, liberal, democracy. India's stunning economic growth over the past 25 years marked the first time in centuries, if not ever, that the average Indian was truly been able to change his life and lot. This was the greatest wonder of the economic reforms India kicked off in 1985 and embraced more seriously in 1991. It felt then like a new superhighway that would speed India directly to superpowerdom was being conceived and built by South Block, as the Indian prime minister's office is unobtrusively called.
The elephant of Indian democracy will acquire a new set of mahouts before the month's end. Who they are will have a major
The Congress party has the Gandhi family at its heart. Sonia Gandhi, widow of former PM Rajiv Gandhi, is the president and
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Elections are an enduring spectacle of free India, and have provided foreign journalists with the opportunity to remind the world that India remains the world's largest democracy.