Communicating Development Ideologies: A Comparative Study of UPA and NDA

Abstract:

Governments (elected or otherwise) and regimes (including dictatorships) claim they are here for the development of their people/country. Elected governments during the election campaign itself place before their people the development agenda as did both UPA and NDA. Now whatever the nature of the ruling dispensation may be, it is imperative for it to use all available communications media to tell the people about the developmental road map. But the nature of communication would in all likelihood depend on the respective ideologies of governments and regimes. Let us take as a sample the 2004 General Elections and the government formed thereafter: The UPA led by the Indian National Congress (‘Congress’ hence forward) has been guided by a centre-left ideology. Besides, Congress had to honour its campaign slogan “Congress ka haath aam admi ke saath” (The hand of Congress is with the common man). The campaign succeeded in debunking the “India Shining” slogan of the NDA, predominantly led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), thus confirming the impression that the NDA cared only for the big businesses and the rich (This is also the general impression about the two-year old Modi government). The Congress, which was regarded as “old-fashioned” by the BJP, was largely backed by poor, rural, lower-caste and minority voters that did not benefit from the economic boom (claimed BJP) of previous years (1999 – 2004) that created a large wealthy middle class.  To illustrate the development ideologies of the two political formations in India I would like to take recourse to Amartya Sen’s view of development. According to Sen Development is a process of expanding the real freedom that people enjoy. This is a broader view of development. The narrow view is identifying development with growth of GDP; rise in personal incomes; industrialization; technological advancement and social modernization. The UPA seems to have adopted the former model of development and the NDA the latter.  In his famous book ‘Development as Freedom’, Sen also speaks about two general attitudes/views to the process of development. One view sees development as a “fierce” process with “much blood, sweat, and tears”. The alternative view sees development as essentially a “friendly” process. This paper would like to argue that these views arise from the respective ideologies held by leaders, parties, governments, and regimes responsible for a country’s development. And in the case of India BJP, which is a right-wing party, embraces the “fierce” developmental ideology and the Congress sees development as more or less a “friendly” process.

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