‘Our democracy is of devolution, not evolution’

Union minister for panchayati raj Mani Shankar Aiyar at a speech at the University of Stanford:

“And why are we stuck somewhere in the 120s on the UN Human Development Index? In 1994, we stood 134th on the UN HDI. Ten years later, as the NDA government yielded to our government, we had inched our way up to just the 126th position. On the UN HDI for the year 2005, published last year, we actually sank from 126th to 128th position.

“True, as Prof. T.N. Srinivasan of Princeton was quick to point out to me, this was largely because the downward revision of death rates from AIDS of children in Botswana catapulted Botswana ahead of India � but surely in an era of accelerating growth we ought to depend less than we seem to do on infant mortality in Botswana to determine India’s place in the sun?

“Because our democracy flowered at the highest branches, unlike the developed democracies where democracy was nurtured at the roots, our democracy has followed not the path of evolution from the grassroots but devolution to the grassroots.”

Read the full text: Political framework for inclusive growth

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Link via Nikhil Moro