In scathing criticism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, international business magazine Economist claimed the NDA government under Modi’s leadership failed to usher in significant economic reform over the last three years that he has been in power.
In a piece titled “India’s prime minister is not as much of a reformer as he seems”, Economist termed the yet to be launched GST ‘unnecessarily complicated and bureaucratic’ and claimed that the demonetisation move by the government was ‘counterproductive, hamstringing legitimate businesses without doing much harm to illicit ones.’
The article states that despite having a majority that the country has not seen in decades and an Opposition that is ‘hopeless’, Modi has failed to introduce reforms on a large scale — attributing it to his lack of reform skills – squandering a golden opportunity that the current global economy as well the country’s political situation provide.
“His reputation as a friend to business rests on his vigorous efforts to help firms out of fixes — finding land for a particular factory, say, or expediting the construction of a power station. But he is not so good at working systematically to sort out the underlying problems holding the economy back…. India does not just need power stations and parcels of land for development. It needs functioning markets for electricity and land—and capital and labour, for that matter.”
The article also questioned the shrinking space for public debate under the Modi administration, stating that ‘Hindu nationalist thugs’ intimidate anyone who chides the government for arguably straying from India’s secular tradition. It goes on to state the CBI raids at the office and residence of NDTV co-founder Prannoy Roy as an instance of ‘heavy-handedness’ by the government.
Terming him more a chauvinist than an economist, the article states that Modi has, himself, become the object of a ‘sycophantic personality cult’ – and it could well be a ploy to win consequent elections, adding that “it is not hard to imagine it going disastrously wrong”.