Before I will finally go to India, I have a close eye on the unfolding events around the general elections. Indians are already voting for the Parliament and their new Prime Minister (elections take over a month). When I will enter India in June, the country will have a new parliament and most likely a new Prime Minister. For me, who is researching the intersection between the public good, the state and the private business economy in tourism, the results of these elections are quite important.
While I am doing research, the effects will probably not be observable, but I fear that the outcome will be representative of larger trends within the global political economy of nation-states. Frontrunner Narendra Modi, as controversial a figure he is, will most likely win the election. The self-described Hindu Nationalist is also what we would coin in the USA a “neocon,” a radical neoliberal, trickle-down economy ideologue. In a way he combines communal extremism (‘with us or against us’), a strong notion of the state as disciplinary, paired with a laissez-faire attitude towards foreign and domestic direct investment. In a year, in which India suffered significant damage in terms of its international perception (the ongoing debate about rape, human rights and safety) as well as at a time when the Indian economic motor is stuttering, Modi runs on the promise of making India desirable again.
It remains to be seen who will feel this desire? Modi on the one hand is the perfect candidate of global capital, promising the state’s commitment to investors (over labor and taxation), which the captains of the global flows of investment seek. On the other hand, Modi’s ethnic extremism lurks in the shadows. In a way Modi stands for a new breed of national leader (just like Erdogan in Turkey), someone who seeks global capital, while pushing a radical disintegration of society into the worthy and unworthy.