Some grounds for optimism--"To be sure, it’s far too early to write off India. It has confounded naysayers before" --but also a lot to be discouraged by.
None of the costs of democracy are unique to India. But together they add up to a disquieting possibility—that there’s a fundamental mismatch between the country’s economic aspirations and its political culture. On the surface, India may be a democracy like any other—with an elected government, a professional civil service, and a legal system inherited from the British. But unlike its counterparts in almost any other advanced democracy, much of India’s political class represents values at odds with those of the most productive element of society: the educated middle class. The middle class seeks order; the political class thrives on chaos. The middle class embraces hard work and thrift; the political class has become synonymous with theatrics and public theft. The middle-class dream rests on a sound education; a career in politics usually takes flight on a famous last name.