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Democracy is the lifeblood of India: A rebuttal by Amitabh Kant

If anyone involved with governing for the past three decades introspects, they will see that difficult decisions on structural reforms are what have been missing for truly transformative change. It is troubling that support for initiatives that democratise the daily lives of all of us is misinterpreted to mean something that was never intended. The Indian Express is a newspaper that stands for democracy and celebrates journalism of courage, independent journalism and freedom of speech. I have been a loyal reader of it since my school days, relying on its reportage of the Emergency and beyond. Let me categorically say this — each and every Indian, including me, is and should be proud that we belong to the largest democracy in the world.

John Stuart Mill defines democracy as “government by discussion”. We are a proud democracy that ensures checks and balances, a bicameral structure, and a voice for every citizen. From the perspective of structural reforms, it means that consensus needs to be built into our processes. Reforms require the buy-in of every stakeholder and therefore they take longer than in the China model. This is factual — it is not partisan, it is not anti-democratic, nor is it overtly critical. Also factual is that this government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has shown the intent and the drive to bring in structural reforms across sectors. Stating a fact does not make one partisan, and one should not be mischaracterised for doing so.

From working with fishermen in Kerala, to the “God’s Own Country” initiative, to the Incredible India campaign, to ease of doing business, and all the work I’ve done across sectors, I have operated optimally in a democracy that I love. The incomplete and out of context extrapolation of my speech inferred that it implied that, “to see reforms as adversarial to the democratic process is to foreclose spaces for negotiation, innovation, and dialogue,” (‘Reform, as per Mr Kant: By framing it as adversarial to democratic process, Niti Aayog CEO does disservice to democracy and reform’, IE, December 10). The irony of this statement stands out. At the dialogue, I was speaking about the multifaceted layers of negotiation and consensus building that were required to bring forth innovation in policies such as the Production Linked Incentive Scheme. Our objective has been to create global champions from India. Read More

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