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The outcome of the 16th Lok Sabha elections surprised the lay voter and seasoned psephologists alike. The margin of the BJP victory bettered the most optimistic projections of even diehard Modi supporters. It would be churlish to attribute this result to the quirks of the First Past the Post system, or the lavish and superbly executed `no-holds-barred' electoral campaign capitalising on the persona of the Party's Prime Ministerial candidate.
The Modi government was elected on a carefully crafted plank of accelerated development, effective governance and creation of rewarding employment opportunities to meet the aspirations of a rapidly growing work force. As expected, this campaign message resonated well with India Inc, the new middle classes and first time voters contemplating a bleak future in a chronically depressed labour market.
This core constituency has high hopes from the government and expects it to redeem its electoral promises with dispatch. From all accounts, the government is in an overdrive to kick-start the process of economic revival. Its focus is on completing the unfinished agenda of economic reforms and debottlenecking economic decision-making, which had virtually ground to a halt during the earlier dispensation.
The Prime Minister has also made a conscious effort to shed his image of a polarizing hardliner and strike the right chords in his diplomatic overtures and public addresses. The businesslike attitude of the new Council of Ministers has won plaudits from the corporate world. The bourses have reacted to the prospect of an end to economic stasis with an exuberance that borders on irrational. In this general euphoria, it might be considered bad form to bring up arcane issues such as the meaning of development, the choice of a development paradigm and its implications for different sections of this maddeningly diverse nation, but it is high time that an animated public debate is engaged on these existential concerns. Hopefully, the perspectives and ideas thus generated will inform the initial decisions of the new government and influence the course of its future policies and programmes.