Political incentives for populism could let India’s democracy down
Too often are reforms held back by the interests of a vocal few at the cost of benefits that could’ve accrued to the vast majority
In January of 2018, taxi drivers in Goa went on an indefinite strike against the state government’s move to install speed-governors in taxis, which was seen as a precursor to allowing the entry of Ola and Uber into the state. Tired of years of bullying by the tourist state’s taxi drivers (commonly referred to as “taxi mafia"), and with neither Ola nor Uber, the public voiced support for the state government. Despite the Congress party officially taking the side of taxi drivers on this issue, even core supporters of the party openly stood behind then chief minister Manohar Parrikar. However, after two days of grandstanding, during which the entire state came to a stand-still, Parrikar caved in, much to the disappointment of Goa’s people; even now, Goa does not have Ola and Uber. Taxi drivers determine electoral outcomes in no more than four seats in the 40-member Goan assembly. So, politically speaking, Parrikar stood to gain by sticking to a position that had support across most of the state. However, human psychology and game theory posit otherwise.