India's watershed moment will have global ripples
Indian voters have lived through a decade of lackluster Congress party rule, blighted by corruption and eight straight quarters of comparatively weak economic growth. After near double-digit expansion in the early 2000s, the recent pace of less than 5% annually seems indefensible for a country with such potential -- albeit one in which every other child suffers from malnutrition. Restoring economic vigor through good governance and decisive reform will be the clear mandate of the electoral victor on May 16.
For the region and the world, India's revitalization under a new leader would be felt far beyond its borders. The government of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is investing heavily in India as a counterweight to China -- and an alternative investment destination for Japanese companies rattled by China's authoritarian nationalism.
Southeast Asian states, meanwhile, want a strong India as a player in regional security alongside the U.S., China and Japan. Beijing knows it cannot claim to speak for Asia when a neighbor of 1.3 billion people contests its leadership. And any true U.S. "pivot" to Asia must be anchored by robust partnerships with the predominant powers of the Indo-Pacific littoral -- India and Japan. Beyond security, the world economy would unquestionably benefit from the return of India, and its billion-plus consumers, as an engine of global growth. In short, there is more at stake for Indian voters than their own domestic politics.
Daniel Twining is senior fellow for Asia at the German Marshall Fund of the United States.