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Friday, May 1, 2009

Populist measures

"It is easy to be critical of political leaders for resorting to populist measures, but to a certain extent populist initiatives are built into the democratic process, especially when political parties are not strong and the party system is splintered. Growth acceleration does not necessarily resolve the problem, since it is likely to be accompanied by increasing inequality. Indeed, there seems to be a rhythmic relationship between growth, inequality, inclusiveness, and populist policies. Episodes of growth acceleration are likely to result in increased inequality, discontent over which is likely to persuade political leaders to take recourse to bursts of effort at inclusiveness, and attempts at inclusiveness are likely to encompass populist measures as well; some even consider the notion of inclusiveness to be just a cover for populist policies. The drive for inclusiveness may not, however, be sufficient for attracting political support, perhaps it could never be, given the high level of expectations. But political leaders cannot be blamed for not trying to secure their own political future through policies that they calculate will win over blocks of voters. In any case, it would be difficult to suggest that the state has been any less interventionist in the arena of social justice in the post-liberalisation period than it was before."
(Baldev Raj Nayar in 'The Myth of the Shrinking State: Globalization and the State in India,' p. 115 OUP)

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