Book Review: Democracy on the Road

The Book ‘Democracy on the Road‘ is written by Ruchir Sharma who is Head of Emerging Markets and Chief Global Strategist at Morgan Stanley,New York

What is interesting about Ruchir is that he is a political junkie and has spent 25 years covering Indian elections -both at the national and state level.

His modus operandi is to take around 20 well known journalists-Indian and International-in a convoy of cars.Using their contacts, they will meet the local journos, talk to the local VIPs, attend a few rallies ,speak to the star campaigners and hence get a sense of which way ‘the wind is blowing’

What comes out in the Book is you can do all this and still be none the wiser of who will win the elections !

However there are certain insights in the Book which I found interesting:

  • Every party has a committed vote share.Yet, this vote share per se is not enough to put it over the top. So to win-you either divide the opposition or cobble up alliances
  • This is the reason why even a fragmented opposition once united can beat a strong leader – Example Indira Gandhi in 1977 or Vajpayeeji in 2004
  • Issues like development,policies etc don’t travel far in the rural hinterland. There what matters is the 3Cs -Caste, Candidate and Cash
  • The youth of this country is likely to vote the same way on caste,religion, community lines just like their parents
  • The women of this country vote their minds…their voting choices can differ from their husbands
  • Indians love to throw the bums out…hence its more likely that the incumbent govt will be thrown out than retained
  • The amounts of money spent on elections is mind boggling…in recent Karnataka elections, it was around 50 Cr per candidate while in MP ,it was around 5 Cr

Ruchir has an anti-Modi bias…that’s reflected in the Book and the journalists he travels with. He puts Modi’s chances of winning 2019 at 50-50

I would recommend this Book only if you are an Indian political junkie.

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