Pt. Deendayal Upadhyay, founder of JanSangh, conceptualised politics as a means for upliftment of “last man standing in the line”. First Chancellor of Germany, Otto Von Bismarck once said “Politics is the art of the possible”. Indian politics took this a little too seriously and witnessed numerous experiments; many of them were unethical, unnatural and unjust. To rule became the rule of politics come what may. Realising that “electoral outcomes are significantly affected by emotional outbursts”, politics in India resorted to avoidable and trivial political issues leaving people to bear the brunt. Political rhetoric as “Gareebee Hatao” (Eradicate Poverty) stayed at the core with hardly any achievement for over 40 years. The net outcome was governance in disarray leading to disappointed, disgruntled and dismayed society with buried hope. The prevailing political practice of trivialism was challenged by PM Narendra Modi and attempted to rechristen politics as a tool of development, for development and by development.
Creation of “welfare state”, a term popularised by William Temple, in which the state plays a pivotal role in the protection and promotion of the economic and social well-being of it’s people, has been the guiding principle for Indian democratic establishment post independence. The concept of “welfare state” has been based on the principles of equality of opportunity, equitable distribution of wealth and public responsibility for those who have not been able to ensure minimal provisions for a decent life. Sociologist T H Marshall described a modern welfare state to be a combination of democracy, welfare and capitalism.
Pt Nehru’s model of development was focused more on distribution than on creation, be it physical or social infrastructure. This model, when compared with the developmental models of other south Asian countries like Indonesia, South Korea and Malaysia who shared their independence time horizon with India, was contested by many economists. The principal point of contention was that India invested more on establishing heavy industries terming them as “modern temples”. These later fell victim of corruption, politicisation and red-tapism leading to liability creation. On the other hand, these south Asian countries invested more on building physical infrastructure and facilitated upscaling of industrial activities through private capital. This institutional support system became reason for sustained economic growth even acted for hedging during contingencies.
Contemporary Indian politics has been requiring to reintroduce development as the focal driving point for governance aimed at creating a positive change in the life of common man. Modi model of development has been guided by creation, distribution and inclusion of all which comprehensively addresses the socio-economic dimensions of human life of the country. It not only aims at excelling quantitatively on economic indicators but also strives for creation of an ecosystem that brings in perceptual qualitative change in the quality of living.
Come 2014, a government was formed with full majority after 30 years by focusing the campaign around development. In a span of four years of its term, the government has been able to sustain relatively higher economic growth of 7.2% in 2014-15, 7.6% in 2015-16. Withstanding adverse global parameters, India could achieve 6.75% in 2017-18 and is slated to achieve 7.5% for 2018-19. Many of the spending planned by the government especially in the infrastructure sector is going to provide impetus to the economic growth in the times to come. To illustrate, Indian Railways has planned an investment of 8.5 lakh crores in a period of 5 years, Highways and ports over 10 lakh crores and telecommunication over 4 lakh crores to augment the physical infrastructure.
Similarly, huge spending is being carried out in petroleum, electricity, coal, fertiliser etc to augment the rate of growth. Introduction of major policy reforms, corruption free transparent auction of natural resources etc are providing further fillip to the supply of additional monetary resource to the national exchequer thereby transforming the growth to development. To further the impact, the government has also been able to contain inflation keeping it below the growth rate thereby creating a net positive impact on to the economy. The average inflation also has been at rock bottom level i.e. at 3.3% in 2018. The fiscal deficit has consistently been within targets through fiscal prudent measures leading to more money available for development.
Modi government has been empathetic enough to address the issues effecting the life of the “last man standing in the line”. In its bid to exhibit commitment to the well being of marginalised, over 9 crore youths have been provided mudra loans for entrepreneurship promotion, over 25 crore bank accounts have been opened as part of the biggest global financial inclusion drive ever, over 3 crores LPG gas connection already distributed, almost all the villages have been electrified with free electricity connections to 397.45 lakh BPL rural households and over 6 crore toilets majorly in rural areas have been built increasing the rural sanitation coverage to over 60% from 38% in 2012. The governance thus has been working to bring the “last man standing in the line” at the core of its policies.
“Politics of economic development” i.e. policies that leads to sustained increase in per-capita income in excess to price level changes with benefits being passed on to the “last man standing in the line”, can prove to be prudently purposeful if it achieves the goals of politics as well. Politics of development aimed at protection and promotion of the economic and social well-being of common citizen of the country is a new kind of politics. This truly aims at creation of a welfare state where the “last man standing in the line” is the real beneficiary of the governance. Sustained success of the politics of economic development envisaged by Prime Minister Modi appears to be for the greater good of the country and its people. This would not just bolster image of the politics as a function but also serve the very purpose of politics in the most prudent and profound manner. The prudence of such form of politics remains to be seen in the times to come. Hope this agenda stays for a better, brighter and prosper India.