|Women hold out their voter registration cards as they wait to cast their votes in India. (Source: Browseyard.com)|
As the US moves steadily towards its electoral process in November, I find myself pondering the purpose of democracy and how effective it is in the Developing World. Having immersed myself exclusively in Asia for the past two years (and much longer in parts before), this time living in Singapore and experiencing firsthand the merits (and demerits) of a "faux-democracy," as well as a range of governance mechanisms across Asia, I am struck by the significant differences between the US democracy and that of several Asian nations.
Recently, I was reading a "briefcase" of information provided by the Jameel Poverty Action Lab (JPAL), a respected economic think-tank based at MIT.
About a month ago, JPAL and the ADB had an "Impact and Policy" conference, that focused on research that highlighted how policy might impact three areas: governance, financial inclusion, and entrepreneurship. Thankfully, many of the presentations are linked to the main conference page, which I would highly encourage you to take a look at.
Among them are a few that have already caught my eye:
- a keynote address given by India's former Election Commissioner, who gives a quick overview of the world's largest democracy; one that is larger than the entire electorate of North and South America put together!!
- Fascinating research from Brazil and Pakistan that highlights the need and impact of transparency/outreach prior to elections (eg. independent audits performed on corrupt vs non-corrupt politicians, released to the public has an immediate impact on how likely they are to be elected or re-elected).
- The impact that a good NGO can have on limiting fake drugs in Uganda.
- Data shows that poverty positively corelates with conflict. It also shows that political representation of all groups in high conflict areas, helps lessen conflict and violence in these areas.
There's much more...check it out here.