With dramatic political change comes the increased potential for widespread civil unrest. Having turned away from the long-ruling Congress Party, Indian voters have decided to elect a pro-business candidate to help address corruption, ineffective bureaucracy, and lagging economic development. This choice could be a boon for India or a source of instability that will add to mounting geopolitical crises seen around the world.
Because Prime Minister-elect Nerendra Modi belongs to the Hindu Nationalist Party and failed in the eyes of many to protect Muslims from rioting in 2002 that killed 1,000 people when he was Chief Minister of Gujarat State, it is a very real possibility that Modi could become a divisive character should he decide to deviate from a centrist path. India is a highly complex society built on a tangled web of cultures and castes. Consequently, the Prime Minister-to-be needs to stay focused on economic, foreign policy, and national security/human rights issues, as all nonsectarian governments must, in order to properly rule his multi-cultural society and prevent massive outbreaks of civil unrest in his countries of 1.2 billion.
Furthermore, India’s long-standing feud with Pakistan creates great potential for a military clash of two nuclear powers should Pakistan test the resolve of the new leader or the new Prime Minister try to prove his strength while the ever-growing material needs of the Indian People are in direct competition with the growing needs of the Chinese People. Given China’s increasingly aggressive pursuit of its interests, including its exploration of natural resources like fish, oil, and potable water, India’s need for the same resources sets up an eventual conflict of interests that would be devastating to the world.
That said, the regional and Western interests in balancing the exercise of Chinese power create an opportunity for the Prime Minister-elect. Unfortunately, pro-business too often means anti-regulation, anti-taxes, and anti-labor. In the development, versus simply the growth, of India’s economy, the Prime Minister-elect must avoid turning India into a lowest bidder economy where taxes are eliminated to the detriment of necessary social services, proper regulation is lax, and the Indian People are trapped in poverty by suppressed wages while unfettered free trade prioritizes global interests over local interests.
As China’s aggressiveness is creating instability and stoking anti-Chinese sentiments in neighboring countries, there will be major shifts in the global economy that can benefit a more stable India. Should pro-business translate into greater protections for American intellectual property and other business interests as well as stable economic conditions, i.e. proper regulation, and wages that satisfy the interests of Indian workers, the Indian economy will be able to better address India’s broad spectrum of interests as well as the interests of Western powers, thus allowing India to become a strong regional power that can offer partners far more than China when it comes strengthening economic ties.
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