India’ s young democracy has endured many challenges, over the last several decades. World’s most populous country is steeped in religious and cultural diversity, but it has been increasingly moving toward egalitarian and universal views of modern democracies. This does pose a threat to conventionalism and politicians who cling to antiquated ideas of organization, management and policy. Just like many old democracies, such as France, India has always had a highly fragmented political party system, typically dominated by two. Coalition governments have always been unstable, and fragmentation always led to a winner with less than 1/3 of the support of the country.
Indian elections are daunting. With nearly a billion eligible voters, it is a process with no parallels. A million polling booths across the sub-continent catering to an average of thousand voters per site, it remains to be the grandest expression of democracy in the World. Some in the West consider India to be populated by engineers, doctors, movie actors and cricket players. It is a complete misrepresentation of a country where 800 million people live on less than $3/day and where 80% of the wealth is held by 10% of the population, most of them associated with politicians.
To be fair, India needs to move to a two-party system. If so, it will not be led in the future by parties who command the support of only 1/3 of the country. Instead, Indians can select from clearly different ideological differences and not get diluted across two dozen political parties with little differentiation.