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Parag Khanna: Is Modi’s Technocracy India’s Future?

Parag Khanna is a leading global strategist and best-selling author. He is a Senior Research Fellow in the Centre on Asia and Globalisation at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore. He is also author of Technocracy in America: Rise of the Info-State (2017), Connectography: Mapping the Future of Global Civilization (2016) and The Second World (2008).

Khanna recently wrote for Open on India’s move towards technocracy: “India has broken decisively from dynastic democracy and is moving as quickly as one could expect towards effective technocracy. Technocracy is a system of government that combines democracy and data, where public consultation (through elections, surveys, social media analysis, and other means) feeds expert decision-making by leaders who are meritocratically selected and utilitarian in mindset. Simply put: Technocracy marries good ideas with efficient execution.”

With American democracy declining as a role model and Indian democracy leaving much to be desired, the rise of an elected technocrat such as Narendra Modi comes not a moment too soon for India. “All of the newfound confidence and credibility India has gained in recent years owes itself to this technocratic shift.”

Prime Minister Modi is known to be an admirer of first-world Singapore and superpower China – both technocratic states, supporting the fact that in order to become a global leader, India has to continue to advance towards technocracy. With this shift, India is breaking away from its comparisons with its third world South Asian neighbours, joining countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines in a journey to greater stability.

Parag Khanna states:

Indians, Indonesians and Filipinos are no longer content to be part of vibrant commercial societies but with dysfunctional governments. Fed up with patronising clichés about how they thrive despite their political systems, they have voted in governments with no-nonsense agendas focused on infrastructure, jobs, education and technology. Success need not be an accident.

Khanna goes on to describe how to “get technocracy right”: a strong civil service built to bridge data and governance, equal focus on inputs and outputs and solving issues raised by the electorate with good quality governance.

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