Thursday, April 29, 2010

Rural poor gain political clout in India

I have noted this in past posts, but it is again mentioned in a story in today's New York Times about Indian politics.

Jim Yardley's story is headlined "For India's Ruling Party, Challenge is Governing," and he indicates that the Congress Party's "focus on the rural poor has proved good politics" as the party's majority in the lower house of Parliament has grown steadily since Sonia Gandhi became President of the party in 1998. The rural poor have also seen some payback (appropriately enough!) for their loyalty. An excerpt from Yardley's story explains:

From the outset, Congress Party leaders have tempered any expectations of major economic reforms in insurance, banking and labor laws coveted by business interests.

Instead, they have focused on a social reform agenda championed by the party’s president, Sonia Gandhi, who has personally intervened to push legislation to give monthly allotments of rice or grain to hundreds of millions of the country’s poor. Analysts say rebuilding the social safety net trumps any effort at major economic reforms.

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