India’s Year of Living Stagnantly

Last year, India's GDP growth decelerated, manufacturing plummeted, and corruption grew uncontrollably, while the government failed to enact even a single piece of legislation, much less undertake any economic reforms, control inflation, or address widespread civil disorder. Will 2012 prove to be a year of renewal for India, or another annus horribilis?

NEW DELHI – Will 2012 prove to be a year of renewal for India, or another annus horribilis? No country progresses unerringly, but India cannot afford another politically and economically torpid year like 2011. For India, last year is a year best forgotten.

India has been so deeply mired in political paralysis that the Nobel laureate economist Amartya Sen recently said that the country has “fallen from being the second best to the second worst” South Asian country, and that it is currently “no match for China” on social indicators. This is a damning comment on a country that held such promise just a short time ago.

In early January, the American social critic James Howard Kunstler described India as “a nation with one foot in the modern age and the other in a colorful hallucinatory dreamtime.” Kunstler’s view is harsh, but perhaps prophetic: India’s “climate-change-related problems are doing heavy damage to the food supply. Their groundwater is almost gone. The troubles of the wobbling global economy will take a lot of pep out of their burgeoning tech and manufacturing sectors.”

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