Economist Snubs Modi

In a cover story, the Economist said Modi’s one year in government is dotted with many hits and misses…reports Asian Lite, Best newspaper for British Asians 

The Economist and Asian Lite cover on Modi's one year
The Economist and Asian Lite cover on Modi’s one year

The weekly newspaper also concerned about the concentration of too much power in one person.

“Mr Modi acts as if a lot of small improvements add up to transformative gains,” the Economist said. “They don’t. He is still thinking like the chief minister of Gujarat, not a national leader on a mission to make India rich and strong. If he is to transform his country, India’s one-man band needs a new tune.”

The Economist didn’t support Modi’s campaign and it was critical of his failure to avert the communal tensions in his home state Gujarat. The paper also said the reform agenda of Modi is gaining speed.

“Voters gave his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) the biggest parliamentary mandate for change in 30 years. Mr Modi has concentrated more power in his own hands than any prime minister in recent memory. The problem is that India needs a transformation—and the task is too much for a one-man band.

“There is no doubting Mr Modi’s conviction that India is about to achieve greatness, and he may well be right. Within a generation, it will become the planet’s most populous nation. It could be one of the world’s three largest economies. And it could wield more influence in international relations than at any time in its history. But, in his heart, the prime minister believes that only one man is destined to lead India down this path: Narendra Damodardas Modi.

“Much has gone well, though serendipity shares the credit. Helped by oil prices, Mr Modi has presided over an improving economy. Inflation is down, interest rates are dropping, the rupee is stable, and fiscal and current-account deficits have shrunk. Official statisticians claim that India’s growth, at 7.5%, outpaces China’s—meaning the country has the world’s fastest-expanding large economy. Foreign direct investment is up. So are the prime minister’s visits abroad, where he cuts an impressive figure. This newspaper chose not to back Mr Modi in last year’s elections because of his record on handling religious strife. Though he fails to control the Hindu-extremist bullies who back him, we are happy that our fears of grave communal violence have so far not been realised.

“But when it comes to reform, Mr Modi’s record is underwhelming. The past year saw auctions of coal deposits. The past few days have brought the tiniest of baby steps towards privatisation: eight state-run hotels may be sold off. Mr Modi points out that foreigners may now invest more in railways, insurance and defence. He is cutting red tape to create a friendlier business climate.

“Poorer Indians will increasingly get cash welfare, not cheap rations in kind: since April the world’s biggest cash-transfer scheme has replaced artificially cheap canisters of cooking gas. Massive subsidies on diesel have been scrapped; whopping ones on paraffin should follow. And by encouraging people to open 150m new bank accounts, linked to a biometric database of 850m people so far, the government is creating a structure to provide better poverty relief.”