Three Road Blocks Marring India’s Progress

It is worth recognizing political parties in India that are not family-controlled, such as the BJP, Communist Party of India, and Marxist Communist Party, as they deviate from this trend and deserve acknowledgment.

3 mins read
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi [Photographer: Manan Vatsyayana/AFP/Getty Images]

Over the past nine years, India has made significant strides in various domains, earning recognition from several international credit rating agencies as one of the fastest developing economies in the world. This achievement is even more remarkable considering the global recessionary trends caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some experts have even predicted that India could become a superpower in the next decade if it maintains its current growth trajectory.

However, it is crucial to acknowledge that India faces three major roadblocks to its progress, largely stemming from its free-for-all political and democratic structure, which some critics describe as chaotic democracy. While there are numerous other economic and social issues that need attention, these can be addressed gradually through improved governance, as evidenced by the progress made in the last nine years under Prime Minister Modi’s leadership. To unlock India’s true potential, it is imperative to eliminate these roadblocks.

Family-controlled political parties and corruption in governance are two interlinked roadblocks that hinder India’s development. Many political parties have fallen under dynastic control, leading to nepotism and rampant corruption in politics and administration when such parties come to power. This widespread corruption, both in the government and private sector, hampers the implementation of development projects, hinders efficient governance, and poses severe challenges for the people’s daily lives. Family-controlled political parties exacerbate the level and intensity of corruption in society, making them detrimental to any democratic nation.

However, it is worth recognizing political parties in India that are not family-controlled, such as the BJP, Communist Party of India, and Marxist Communist Party, as they deviate from this trend and deserve acknowledgment.

Another roadblock hindering progress is the growing prevalence of a “freebies culture.” Some state governments offer free gifts, commonly known as freebies, to the public, including free bus travel, free electricity, and various other benefits. These freebies are often used to hide governance inadequacies and gain favor with voters during elections. Unfortunately, the financial health of the state and the adverse economic and social impacts are disregarded when extending such freebies. State governments in Tamil Nadu, Delhi, and Karnataka are among the worst offenders in this regard, implementing freebies in an irresponsible manner. The consequences are dire, with these states accumulating enormous debts and facing subsequent financial crises. Despite the grave financial and debt conditions, politicians in power in these states seem unconcerned.

What is alarming is that other states are inclined to adopt this freebie culture, as some political parties believe it is the key to winning elections. The practice of offering freebies before elections to lure voters undermines fair play and distorts the essence of electoral democracy. This scenario poses a serious threat to the fabric of the democratic system.

To sustain India’s economic and social growth, these three roadblocks must be addressed. While the central government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has largely remained free from these roadblocks, several state governments, particularly those controlled by family-dominated political parties, continue to grapple with them.

The performance and leadership of Prime Minister Modi will likely be the focal point of the next parliamentary election in 2024. Consequently, people across the nation, both admirers and critics, closely observe how he tackles these roadblocks and to what extent he succeeds in eliminating them from the Indian political landscape. Given the high expectations people have, Mr. Modi has no choice but to confront these roadblocks with unwavering conviction and by any means necessary.

Mr. Modi must convince the people that family-controlled political parties harm India’s democratic process and educate voters about the need to reject them in the upcoming parliamentary election.

While Mr. Modi has taken steps to combat corruption, such as promoting digital transactions, people expect more from him, as corruption in the country still persists. To meet these expectations, Mr. Modi must utilize his authority to apprehend and punish corrupt individuals, whether they are politicians, bureaucrats, business leaders, or anyone else involved in corruption and nepotism. This task is far from easy, as the corrupt individuals will fight back fiercely, armed with their ill-gotten wealth. They will likely launch a massive public outcry, labeling any action against them as vendetta or politically motivated. Unfortunately, gullible individuals may fall victim to their sustained campaign. Additionally, the slow pace of the judiciary further complicates the process of punishing corrupt individuals and restoring integrity to public life. While Mr. Modi can expose and present corrupt individuals to the judiciary, the actual sentencing can only be carried out by the judiciary itself, leaving Mr. Modi with limited control.

Mr. Modi must also shed light on the detrimental effects of the prevailing freebies culture and ensure that people’s focus and expectations remain on development and progress rather than on handouts and entitlements. Achieving this requires a substantial public awareness campaign to reform the people’s mindset regarding freebies.

The future of Mr. Modi and, perhaps, India itself largely depends on his success in dismantling these three roadblocks as the 2024 parliamentary election approaches.


N. S. Venkataraman is a trustee with the "Nandini Voice for the Deprived," a not-for-profit organization that aims to highlight the problems of downtrodden and deprived people and support their cause and to promote probity and ethical values in private and public life and to deliberate on socio-economic issues in a dispassionate and objective manner.

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