India’s government has been widely criticized for the slow pace of economic reform, but in recent weeks the Congress party appears to have renewed and strengthened its commitment to the cause. A major rally in Delhi saw speaker after speaker defend the importance of economic reform.
Most important, Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul, widely believed to be preparing to lead the party into the next general election, made strong speeches in support of the key idea that economic reform is the best way to raise the living standards of the poor.
The Nehru-Gandhi dynasty has been the First Family of India since independence and remains the key to power in the Congress Party. For the matriarch and heir apparent of the family to make such high profile statements about the importance of reform sends a signal that the party is serious.
Given India’s coalition politics and the power of populist politicians in much of the country, the politics of reform will be difficult. But it’s a good sign for ordinary Indians and for the foreign countries who hope that India’s rise will help stabilize Asia that the Gandhi family is coming down so firmly on the side of change.