On a recent visit to New Delhi, I met an activist promoting the rights of dalits (untouchables), who quipped, playing off a current national-branding campaign: "India is indeed incredible . . . but only in paradox."

Earlier this month, people power ousted the establishment Indian National Congress party from control of the New Delhi state assembly and catapulted the Aam Admi Party (Common Peoples Party), which was only founded a year ago, into power as head of a coalition government.

It is, indeed, an incredible story, and even though the Hindu-nationalist Bharitiya Janata Party (BJP) won a few more seats, the outcome was a significant setback for mainstream parties.