A new benchmark called the Empowerment Line, developed by the McKinsey Global Institute, aims to create a new and more holistic policy framework for poverty reduction. It calculates the cost for an Indian household to attain the basics and then compares these benchmarks to actual consumption data to measure needs that are going unmet. The results debunk a number of misconceptions about the nature of poverty in India.
After a prolonged period of political drift and paralysis, India's new government will be led by a man known for his decisiveness. Just as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's return to power in late 2012, after six years of political instability, reflected Japan's determination to reinvent itself as a more competitive and confident country, Narendra Modi's election victory reflects Indians' desire for a dynamic, assertive leader to help revitalize their country's economy and security.Like Abe, Modi is expected to focus on reviving India's economic fortunes while simultaneously bolstering its defenses and strengthening its strategic partnerships with likeminded states, thereby promoting regional stability and blocking the rise of a Sino-centric Asia.
Some Indians cling to the warm and fuzzy notion that the country is slowly but surely fixing itself and improving its imperfect democracy. Indeed, several steps the government, Supreme Court and Election Commission have taken have done much in this regard. The introduction of electronic voting machines is often touted as an example. Stricter enforcement of "good conduct" norms has also helped. Politicians are now fined for provocative speeches, campaigning without prior permission and announcing sops close to polls. But all this is just a drop in the bucket. When India's election results are announced on May 16, many in this nation won't be sure whether it was their votes, or black money, guns and booze that determined who will run the world's largest democracy.
It has been described by one newspaper as the "dance of democracy," and by another as "Mahabharata," after the Indian epic that tells the story of an ancient war between two warring dynasties. Whatever you might call it -- Hillary Clinton called it "the global gold standard" -- India's elections are here.
The world's largest democracy is set to go to the polls from April 7 to May 15. At stake is nothing less than its much-lauded position as an emerging economic powerhouse and its much-hoped-for transformation into a bulwark of modern, liberal, democracy. India's stunning economic growth over the past 25 years marked the first time in centuries, if not ever, that the average Indian was truly been able to change his life and lot. This was the greatest wonder of the economic reforms India kicked off in 1985 and embraced more seriously in 1991. It felt then like a new superhighway that would speed India directly to superpowerdom was being conceived and built by South Block, as the Indian prime minister's office is unobtrusively called.