Saturday, January 31, 2015

@AamAadmiParty - might they be an Indian liberal party?

There was a conference taking place at my hotel, and the restaurant was full for breakfast, and so, when I was asked if I would mind sharing my table with someone else, it would have been churlish to refuse.

And, as you do, we got talking, the young man and I. He asked why I was in Delhi, assuming, not unreasonably, that I was probably in town for business, so I explained that It was merely a jet lag stopover on the way to Mumbai to visit family. He works in Bangalore for a big, international IT firm - I won't name it just in case - but was in town to meet with local campaigners for the Aam Aadmi Party, the newest big thing on the Indian political scene.

Aam Aadmi, which is Hindi for 'common man' sprang from a people's anti-corruption movement three years ago, and calls for action against corruption in politics as well as society at large, devolution of power from the centre and community building. It does sound vaguely familiar, and indeed the party is considered to be centre-left.

The fight against corruption is very much an issue amongst the emerging middle class and, especially, young people, who see it as a way to improve India's prospects. And, given the endemic levels of corruption in Indian politics, only a new political force is likely to have the motivation required to change things.

My young breakfast companion was rather enthusiastic, emphasising that they don't get big corporate donors and that funds are raised predominantly from supporters (still sounding a bit familiar, isn't it?). They call for a radical change in the way India is run, and I was beginning to tick some of those philosophical boxes that you have when you're testing out potential new members of ALDE and the Liberal International.

And so, with my International Relations Committee hat on, I explained a little about international political families, and how forming links with like-minded parties in other democracies might be useful - access to training, new ideas, campaigning techniques, policy making, all of the things that new political movements can struggle with.

It was a lot to think of, I admit, but you should never miss out on an opportunity to spread liberalism or, at the very least, internationalism, so perhaps a message might be conveyed to someone of influence in the party as something to consider.

And, who knows, liberalism might have a genuine champion in India one day...

No comments: