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In an impressive exercise in democracy, 800 million eligible voters participated in India's 16th general election. The new prime minister will be Narendra Modi of the conservative Bharatiya Janata Party, who presided over rapid economic growth in his 13 years as chief minister of the state of Gujarat, on India's northwest coast. The election once again demonstrated how different in political terms India is from its giant neighbor, autocratic China. Now, however, the new government must try to match the superior economic progress that China has achieved over the last three decades. Poor infrastructure constrains the industry that India does have.While a trucker in the United States can haul a load a thousand miles in about 20 hours, in India the equivalent trip takes 4-5 days.Modi's new government cannot – indeed, must not – abolish the democratic rules that permit minorities to flourish. With its various ethnic groups, religions, castes, and 30 languages used by more than 1 million native speakers each (and another 105 spoken by at least 10,000 people), India is more culturally diverse than the entire European Union – but with twice as many people. Here, the election has brought good news: the increasing strength of India's growing middle class, a potent ally in the cause of pursuing the needed economic reforms.
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