July 9, 2012
Ashutosh Varshney, Sol Goldman Professor of International Studies and the Social Sciences and director of the Brown-India Initiative, comments on the paradox of contemporary Indian politics - "businesses funding elections, but unable to determine election results” — in The Indian Express this week.
Varshney cites the findings of a recently published paper by two Indian scholars: despite economic liberalization, the government maintains considerable control over economic activity, making industry "averse to alienating parties that are in power or that may come to power...Maintaining confidentiality of donations helps avoid reprisals by political parties that might want to penalize the donors for favoring their opponents; this is generally regarded as more important than any tax benefits."
Arguing for an analysis and public discussion of how elections are funded, Varshney writes, "As India's democracy has turned more competitive and elections have become more unpredictable, corruptions has increased, not gone down. We should celebrate the greater political competitiveness, but not the larger corruption."