Fifty years ago, barely a decade into the wave of decolonization, few would have believed that 50 years later India would be a democracy. After all, democratic regimes were falling like ninepins and there was no reason to believe that India’s fate would be any different.
Today, the theme has changed. In many circles it is almost an article of faith that democracy is holding back India’s progress.
This is not an “either-or” question with one wrong answer. If anything, democracy is likely to ensure the sustainability of its strong growth, especially in a volatile global economy as economist Dani Rodrikpoints out.
This is not a mean achievement: the kind of strains and stresses seen in India—in part a product of mass poverty to bewildering cultural diversity—would have broken the unity of any other country. India, on the other hand, gains strength from adversity.