Tuesday, Oct 21, 2014

Acche din not here yet; is the Modi halo dimming?

While acknowledging that Modi only took office in May, they Indians say they see no change, just more of the same. (Source: AP photo) While acknowledging that Modi only took office in May, they Indians say they see no change, just more of the same. (Source: AP photo)
Associated Press | New Delhi | Posted: August 22, 2014 12:27 pm | Updated: August 22, 2014 12:43 pm

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi swept to power in India’s most resounding election victory in decades, he promised to revive the sluggish economy, rein in rising food prices, tackle corruption and overhaul his predecessor’s lackluster foreign policy.

Many Indians, long accustomed to political stagnation, believed him.

But in recent weeks, critics – and even many supporters – have started to accuse him of squandering his powerful mandate in this boisterous country of 1.3 billion people, where such overwhelming election victories are exceedingly rare.

While acknowledging that Modi only took office in May, they say they see no change, just more of the same.

An Indian hand rickshaw puller with passenger makes his way through a traffic jam in Kolkata, India. (Source: AP photo) A hand rickshaw puller with passenger makes his way through a traffic jam in Kolkata, India. (Source: AP photo)

Despite Modi’s declarations to engage archrival Pakistan – and inviting Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to his inauguration – ties between the two nations remain stuck where they have been for at least a decade.

Pakistan's interference in India's internal affairs "not acceptable", Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh told Pakistan High Commissioner. (Source: AP) Pakistan’s interference in India’s internal affairs “not acceptable”, Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh told Pakistan High Commissioner. (Source: AP)

The recent national budget announcement – despite promises of urgent reforms – failed to provide new direction to India’s listless economy. And Modi’s pledge to clean up the political system has been tainted by the appointment of Amit Shah, a longtime adviser, to a top political post even though he is facing murder charges.

“For a government that promised a new narrative, the adjustment to old ways is striking,” Pratap Bhanu Mehta, who heads the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi, wrote in the Indian Express newspaper recently.

The grumbling can be seen on newspaper opinion pages and heard in the bazaars of New Delhi, where people from all walks of life shop for food. Staples of the Indian kitchen like potatoes and tomatoes continue to cost well over a dollar per kilogram, exorbitant for many people. Under the campaign slogan of “Better Days Ahead,” Modi’s party had promised to control food prices, among other things.

An Indian woman buys vegetables at a road side stall in New Delhi, India. (Source: AP photo) A woman buys vegetables at a road side stall in New Delhi, India. (Source: AP photo)

“Who can afford to eat tomatoes these days?” continued…

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