Aam Aadmi (AAP), or Common Man Party ran a simple but formidable campaign, beating back the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ambitions to gain political capital in a Delhi state election. The message was simple, “Never underestimate the power of the common man.”
Economics for the Common Man
The rise of the AAP’s Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi’s new Chief Minister and former tax inspector provide important insights into the nature of politics at the grassroots level in India. On the one hand, ‘pro-poor polices and clean government’ is the narrative for the ‘common man.’ Politicians functioning as intermediaries with the state acquire influence and amass political capital (Krishna, 2012). On the other hand, a great deal of hard work is required to mobilize non-caste based political entrepreneurs who can deliver economic benefits and provide avenues for greater political participation (Krishna, 2012). From this vantage point, it is imperative that the ruling party remain focused on redistributing wealth from the more advantaged to the less advantaged.
The Challenge for Economic Reforms
In October 1929 Sir Basil Blackett characterized political unrest in India as an economic phenomenon of the middle class, the “outcome of discontent and maladjustment” (Foreign Affairs, October 1929). Today, the challenge for economic reforms in India is inclusive growth. Social unrest and protests similarly runs deep in resource-rich areas of central and eastern India, where rapid economic growth has been accompanied by rapidly growing inequality (HRW, World Report: 2012).
Prime Minister Narendra Modi swept to power with the biggest national election victory in three decades, promising to revitalize India’s economy, fix governance and push through reform legislation by executive decree. However, economics for the common man is systematic. The strategies and processes that create, break down, and recreate social coalitions in the party system require calculated tactical alliances (Swamy, 2012). Institutions in the economic system must distribute rights and realize solutions. When these transaction are taken into account, it turns out that the existence of firms, the structure of the financial system and even fundamental features of the legal system can be given a relatively simple explanation (see Coase, 1960).