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Heading into general elections this spring, Indian voters are worried about the economy -- no wonder, since the country's growth rate has fallen by nearly half since 2010, inflation remains high, and corruption is rampant. Unfortunately for voters, none of the leading parties have presented a coherent economic strategy.
As recent protests indicate, Indians increasingly believe that their government is letting them down. New Delhi's faults -- criminalism, cronyism, and corruption -- are well known. Less understood is that these problems result from positive developments, that they will get worse before they get better, and that the solution is not less democracy, as some have suggested, but even more.
The Hindu-nationalist leader Narendra Modi's recent election sparked a good deal of controversy. It also sparked an open and substantive debate about economics, liberalism, and social welfare in Gujarat and across all of India -- a rarity in developing democracies and a positive thing as India gears up for nationwide elections in 2014.
Earlier this year, the Obama administration requested that Congress establish a $770 million Middle East and North Africa Incentive Fund to “support citizens who have demanded change.” If the results of similar efforts in Pakistan are any guide, however, Washington shouldn't expect much political leverage in return for its investments.