Beijing, Feb 13: India is among a number of Asian nations that are trapped in “imperfect democracy”, according to a leading Chinese daily.
Satisfying the needs of the people living at the bottom of the society, who form the biggest source of votes, determine the country’s politics, an opinion piece headlined ‘Imperfect democracy traps Asian nations’ said Wednesday.
“Satisfying the needs of these people without limits becomes the sole condition of whether the rulers can remain in power,” it stated.
“In India, parliament is clearly aware of the elections taking place in 2014, so it passed a bill to provide subsidised food to two-thirds of the population last year.”
The article said this would only add to India’s already huge budget deficit and the money should instead have been used in building infrastructure like ports and roads or promote the productivity of the manufacturing sector.
“Like other developing countries, what India needs now is not subsidy but real actions,” it said.
“However, a government constrained by votes can only bet on social welfare and exchange it for votes,” it pointed out, adding that this was the reason “why some Asian countries always linger in the middle income trap”.
According to the article, helping more people out of poverty is not the only solution but the key is in also increasing their productivity.
“When the economy is favourable, the former may be achieved, satisfying the needs of both the middle class and the bottom class,” it said.
“But when the economy is not in a good condition, the interests of the middle class will be divided to make up for those of the bottom class, which will lead to resentment of the middle class and the split between the two classes.”
In the case of Bangladesh, it said parliamentary elections in the beginning of this year were marred by large-scale disturbances resulting in a number of deaths and over 120 polling stations being torched.
Thailand too “has been gridlocked in sharp conflicts since protests disrupted voting in the country’s general election”.
However, the article said, the situation in Nepal has been relatively mild “as the election deadlock that had been dragged for months ended”.
“But the new prime minister (Sushil Koirala) has only brought dim hope of stability to the public,” the article stated.
“The real problem might be that the current imperfect democratic systems have offered room for populism, and caused confrontations among different religious groups, among various social classes and among different political parties,” it opined.
“For the countries whose social and economic conditions are far from ideal, an imperfect representative democracy has gradually created a fundamental issue that makes society split because of votes.”
It said when populism is attributed to the power of votes, social welfare “becomes a commodity that can be exchanged for votes”.
“When democracy turns into confrontation, elections become the battlefield. The head-on clash between two parties only brings about disorder,” it added.