It’s not been a banner year for governance in the world’s largest democracy. The ruling Congress Party-led government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has seen its popularity and credibility plummet following waves of corruption scandals implicating top politicians accused of exploiting their positions for financial gain. The reported incidents of graft have been both epic—a billion-dollar telecoms scandal—and petty, but all have fueled the fires of public anger. Foreign observers now warn that the Indian model for democracy and development could be derailed by the country’s venal bureaucracies and crony capitalism. The grassroots populist fervor championed in 2011 by anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare was transformed into a political mission in 2012 by Hazare’s former colleague Arvind Kejriwal. The latter’s new Aam Admi party, launched this November, may struggle at the polls, but represents a black mark on Singh’s government, which has squandered much of the domestic and international goodwill it won when it came into power in 2009 with what seemed then to be a massive electoral mandate.
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