India’s Resilient Democracy Sends a Strong Message to the West

by Dr. Jasneet Bedi

India, a pivotal player on the global stage, has once again demonstrated the robustness of its democracy through its recent elections. As the world watches, the Indian electorate has reaffirmed its commitment to democratic principles, defying critics and setting an example for nations everywhere.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has been at the forefront of India’s foreign policy, continues to be a significant figure in global diplomacy. Despite speculations about potential shifts in focus due to domestic political pressures, it seems unlikely that India’s foreign policy will see drastic changes. Modi’s experience and the multi-partisan support for India’s foreign policy suggest stability in this arena.

Beyond politics, perceptions are crucial. Western commentators have often critiqued India’s judicial process, the timing, and the fairness of its elections. However, the recent election results should put many of these criticisms to rest. India’s democracy has proven its vitality; despite a reduced majority for the ruling party, the transition was peaceful, with both sides accepting the results without resorting to violence or claims of electoral fraud.

The opposition, while raising concerns about the polling process, also accepted the mandate gracefully. This mature response underscores the resilience of India’s democratic institutions.

Nevertheless, questions remain about how these developments will influence Western perspectives. India’s drop in the EIU Democracy Index from 27th in 2014 to 41st in 2023, labeling it a ‘flawed democracy,’ and its designation as an ‘electoral autocracy’ by Sweden’s V-Dem index in 2018, have been points of contention. The June 4th election results, however, contradict these classifications. The ruling BJP secured about 37 percent of the votes, a stark contrast to the overwhelming majorities seen in true autocracies like Russia and Iran.

These results highlight a fundamental truth: Indian voters are astute and discerning. For instance, in Delhi, the BJP won all seven parliamentary seats, yet the Aam Aadmi Party holds a dominant majority in the assembly elections. Similarly, in Karnataka, voters favored the Congress in state elections but supported the BJP in the national polls. This pattern extends to Odisha, where the BJP triumphed in the Lok Sabha elections but faced a strong challenge from the longstanding Naveen Patnaik government in the state assembly.

Such electoral outcomes reflect the intelligence and adaptability of Indian voters, a stark contrast to the often rigid voting patterns observed in countries like the United States, where political affiliations remain unchanged regardless of circumstances.

The West must reconsider its underestimation of Indian voters and respect India’s democratic processes. For the Global South, India’s election serves as a beacon of democratic integrity. In a time when coups and authoritarian takeovers are rising, India’s election demonstrates that democracy is not only viable but thriving in diverse contexts.

India should take pride in this electoral outcome. It sends a powerful message globally, affirming that democracy is alive and well in India, and it continues to be a source of inspiration for democratic movements around the world.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of Khalsa Vox or its members.

Dr. Jasneet Bedi

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