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Can Democracy Improve the Quality of Life for All Indians During the Election Season?

This year, as numerous islands in the Caribbean head to the polls, the focus of their people often gravitates towards the elections in the US and Britain rather than those in their ancestral lands of Africa and India.

This phenomenon can be somewhat justified, as per the age-old adage: “When America sneezes, the world catches a cold.” It might also appear peculiar that individuals in these regions align themselves with political labels like Republican or Democrat, Conservative or Labour, despite facing arduous visa procedures and substantial expenses just to visit these distant nations.

The historical backdrop of slavery, indentureship, and colonialism binds these islands to the UK and the US, yet their connections to Africa and India remain deeply ingrained.

In the present month, India is in the midst of its democratic process. The general elections to select 543 members of the 18th Lok Sabha, the lower house of parliament, are underway and will continue until 1 June. Described as “colossal, colourful, and complex,” India’s elections involve an estimated 969 million eligible voters, making it the largest election globally. The voting is scheduled in seven phases, with the results set to be announced on 4 June.

The current prime minister is vying for a third term, presenting an intriguing facet of the world’s most extensive democracy. The voter turnout in the 2019 elections stood at 67%, reflecting a significant engagement of the electorate in the democratic process. However, regionalism and identity politics wield considerable influence on electoral outcomes, with coalition dynamics shaping governance structures.

Scarves of different colours with words in Hindi script and symbols such as lotus flowers and hands, representing parties such as the BJP and Congress.

India grapples with a multifaceted political landscape, where its economic prowess and technological advancements command global attention. Ranging from space exploration to nuclear capabilities, India projects a sense of promise to observers worldwide.

The nation’s nuclear capabilities serve as a cornerstone of its strategic stance, acting as a deterrent in a volatile geopolitical sphere. India’s achievements in space, exemplified by successful launches, underscore its prowess in scientific and engineering domains.

India’s economic trajectory showcases a remarkable evolution, driven by a dynamic entrepreneurial ecosystem and burgeoning technological innovations. The country now boasts billionaires, up from 169 the previous year, collectively amassing a wealth of $954 billion (£766 billion) as per Forbes. This surge underscores India’s status as an economic powerhouse, attracting global investments.A line of women in colourful saris snakes through a park with some sitting down on the grass as they wait

However, beneath the facade of progress and economic advancements lie entrenched inequalities and pervasive poverty, marred by gender disparities, and that pose significant challenges to India’s holistic development.

Two Indian men pass a poster of a spectacled Indian manVoters leave on a truck after casting their ballot during the first phase of voting in India’s general election, in Chhattisgarh state

The stark wealth disparities in India underscore the urgent need for social reforms. Addressing corruption, fostering ethical leadership, and promoting civic engagement are crucial steps towards building resilient institutions and sustainable development in the country.

As India navigates its path forward, characterized by a blend of challenges and opportunities, the nation’s sociopolitical and economic landscape mirrors that of many Caribbean nations. The global spotlight on India beckons attention from its diaspora, anticipating a leader capable of steering the nation towards a future marked by visionary governance, unwavering reform commitments, and inclusive societal upliftment.