Many of Prime Minister Modi’s promises on economy are bold but implausible: NYT Op-ed


WASHINGTON, July 10 (APP): Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has
made “extraordinary” economic promises but few are plausible, according to an op-ed published in the New York Times on Sunday that also warns against his Hindu nationalist views, which could weaken India’s secular character and hurt the economy in turn.
In the article titled “Modi’s Strongman Economics”, the author has
pointed out that almost no new jobs have been created under Mr. Modi, compared with 579,000 extra jobs that were added yearly in India between 2011 and 2014 under his predecessor Manmohan Singh.
While that was too not enough, “under Mr. Modi the job-creation rate
has fallen, in effect, to zero,” the article said and quoted data for 2015, the latest year for which they are available, according to which, little more than 100,000 jobs were added to India’s economy as against roughly one million people that join the labor force every month.
“Local business leaders quietly grumble there is no dynamism on the
ground, little consumer demand. Much infrastructure, such as wobbly roads and slow freight trains, needs improving. Indebted banks, state-run and vulnerable to political meddling, won’t lend without reform.”
According to the article, Mr. Modi had vowed to train apprentices by the
hundreds of million to service that manufacturing boom; had promised to expand internet network to all of the country’s 600,000 villages and clean the polluted Ganges River; build 100 million extra toilets by 2019, create 100 new “smart cities”, create network of high-speed trains; and had promised that India would be ranked by the World Bank as one of the 50 countries friendliest to businesses.
“Such promises are bold, but few are plausible, given the strongman
economist’s limited efforts to deliver,” the article said. The tax system is overly complicated and, while a new law on bankruptcy should help the financial system, “much else is no nearer to happening under Mr. Modi than Under Mr. Singh”.
“Few formal jobs have been created, as labor laws remain painfully
restrictive. Nobody dares talk about creating freer markets in agriculture, lest that upset villagers. It is still hard, without political help, to buy land to build a factory. And in too many sectors — such as makers of steel, fighter jets and even sex toys — state-owned firms crowd out private ones.”
The article also termed as “worrying” the consequences of Mr.
Modi’s “political character”, referring to his longstanding nationalist views. “Members of religious minorities fear growing intolerance. Mob violence has increased. Mr. Modi, a lively Twitter commentator, remains quiet for too long and does little to stop the violence.”
Sectarian strife and instability, the article said, is also a worrying
factor for the economy as who would invest in an economy where arbitrary political decisions can threaten whole industries.
Attacks on the trade in cow and buffalo meat threaten an industry that creates jobs for many and that last year earned India much-needed exports worth $4 billion.
“India’s tolerant, secular character forms the bedrock on which a
strong economy can be built. You need not be a big economist to grasp that it would be crazy to weaken that foundation,” the writer observed.