Monsoon rains sweep across India during the summer after several months of hot, dry weather, turning parched earth into lush and tropical landscape. Besides bringing eagerly awaited relief from the heat, these rains play an important role in sustaining the vibrancy of the Indian sub-continent’s life. Most of its vast population remains rural and highly dependent upon the land’s yield for sustenance. And the wealth of its large urban population depends entirely on the steady surge of India’s river waters flowing from the Himalayan heights. Lacking monsoonal renewal, India’s agriculture production may fail and its water resources dwindle – all with potentially dire consequences. So while traveling in Delhi and Mumbai these past weeks, it was little surprise to hear Indian’s ask this time of year, “will the rains come?”
And Indians’ yearning for monsoonal renewal is also felt keenly in a different way in this year’s political elections. Many Indians insist they face a parched economic landscape in desperate need of refreshing to unleash India’s great promise. They reflect on a decade of lost opportunity in which Indian leadership failed to move India forward and stifled Indian vibrancy. They almost seem to shout for a leader who will decisively confront India’s challenges and renew growth. It appears the new leader will be Narendra Modi, former Chief Minister of the widely heralded economic miracle of Gujarat. Can he bring the rains of renewal? Hopes are certainly high. Whether Narendra Modi or another, India’s next leader will face the following tremendous opportunities in the soil of India as well as the following daunting challenges.