India politics

By Derek Scissors, American Enterprise Institute

Over the next few years, the Indian economy will seem to be doing well, if judged only by headlines. Real growth in gross domestic product (GDP) was just reported at 7.3 per cent in the final quarter of last year, which impresses some. GDP growth, however, is not translating into economic dynamism.

Despite improvements in the business environment under Narendra Modi, the prime minister, India’s development model remains state-led. The state is horribly inefficient, inhibiting prosperity, and modest reforms expected in the upcoming national budget will have little impact.

Counting on India as a market saviour is a mistake. Read more

A stark dichotomy has emerged between Indian economic data and the reality on the ground. In the latest example, the Reserve Bank kept interest rates unchanged at its last monetary policy review earlier this month and issued a dovish statement. Signs of an investment revival are meagre and consumption demand remains weak – in strong contrast with the GDP growth estimates of the government and the Central Bank.

Despite general optimism following the election of the Narendra Modi government last May, the pace of economic revival has been slow as both investment and consumer demand remain weak. Read more

“We are waiting for you!” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told potential investors this week at the India Economic Summit in New Delhi. But the response among delegates in the conference hall may not have been the one he was hoping for.

“We are waiting for him too,” said one foreign investor, who declined to be identified, expressing impatience with the pace of reforms to make India more business-friendly. Some local industrialists struck a similar note: Anand Mahindra, chairman of Mahindra & Mahindra, one of the largest industrial groups in India, couldn’t hide his anticipation: “The pressure is on [the government] to walk the talk, and see the talk become action.” Read more

While most Indians were celebrating the Diwali holiday last week, authorities in New Delhi slipped out an order that may bring an end to the state monopoly on coal mining.

Many analysts are now questioning, however, whether international mining groups will enter India if the government follows through on last week’s ordinance. And more to the point – even if they do, is this the answer to India’s acute energy shortage? Read more

By Kavaljit Singh, Madhyam

On 28th August, an ambitious programme on financial inclusion – Jan Dhan Yojana (People’s Wealth Scheme) – was rolled out across India amid much fanfare. The government claims that on the inaugural day, a record 15m zero-balance bank accounts were opened across the country under the program. Nowhere else in the world has such a large number of bank accounts been opened on a single day. This is undoubtedly a big achievement for the new government. Read more

Xi Jinping, the Chinese president, arrived in India on Wednesday for a visit expected to showcase significant investment deals and make progress toward resolving a decades-old border dispute.

But beyond the official bonhomie, the shallow foundations of an uneasy bilateral relationship are readily evident. Nowhere are they more obvious than with tourism. China’s outbound tourism boom appears to have largely bypassed India, which took only 2.5 per cent of its tourist arrivals from its northern neighbour in 2013.

This put Chinese arrivals behind those both from Malaysia – at 3.5 per cent of the total – and Russia – at 3.7 per cent. Read more

Remember that story back in June, when the Indian government blocked a couple of foreign sources of funding for Greenpeace India?

It looks like the courts may not let New Delhi withhold the international transfers. On Wednesday, the Delhi High Court ordered that the blocked funds should be shifted from accounts with the central bank to Greenpeace’s accounts and placed in a fixed deposit until October 10, when a final verdict will be announced. Read more

By Jonathan Fenby, Trusted Sources

There’s nothing like an acronym or a catchy label when it comes to emerging markets. The master alchemist, Jim O’Neill, set the pace with the formulation 13 years ago of the four-nation BRICs (with or without a final capital S for South Africa). Fidelity followed that with the MINT collection of Mexico, Indonesia Nigeria and Turkey constituting MINT.

Then Morgan Stanley chipped in with Fragile Five, which – such are the vagaries of nomenclature – includes five members of the previous two aggregations.

Now, a new and potentially more durable grouping is emerging – even if it does not lead itself to an acronym that trips off the tongue. The best I can come up with is CIMI – or, if you twist it to give Mexico rather than China first place, the marginally more memorable MICI, though that would invite too many columnists to compare them to Disney’s mouse. Read more

Since the early days of its software industry in the 1980s, nearly all of India’s large IT companies have earned their crust selling software to companies in America, who have tended to be more open to outsourcing than competitors in Europe and Asia.

But for how much longer? Not that long in the case of Tata Consultancy Services at least, the country’s largest IT group by sales, which soon looks set to earn more than half of its revenues outside the US for the first time, according to chief executive Natarajan Chandrasekaran. Read more

Facebook’s user base in India surpassed 100m earlier this year, making it the second largest market for the social network after the US, and industry analysts predict India will take the top spot later this year.

In a recent report, however, star internet analyst Mary Meeker identifies one snag for any social media platform seeking growth outside mature markets: the countries where the internet user base is expanding quickest are now the markets where monetisation will be most difficult. Read more

India is the world’s largest democracy, known for lively debate and an active press. As the country has developed, however, the public has grown skeptical of both the media and politicians.

To promote greater transparency and accountability, Govindraj Ethiraj, a well-known business journalist, set up IndiaSpend, a non-profit that aims to generate data-driven journalism. Read more

Even before the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) published its election manifesto and before India’s new prime minister, Narendra Modi, set out his plans for the country, there was something different about the winning campaign.

The 63 year-old candidate revolutionised electioneering in India which, until then, had relied on billboards, handouts and door-to-door appeals. Suddenly, a leading politician was active on social media, reaching out to the diaspora through Google Hangout sessions and reaching the far corners of the country with video links and holograms (pictured). Now, Modi plans to change his administration in much the same way. Read more

It seems everyone is optimistic about India as Narendra Modi, the new prime minister, takes charge.

His track recored as chief minister of Gujarat suggested the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader will usher in a new era of economic growth in India – but also sparked fears that he would be reluctant to share power with high-profile senior ministers. His choice of cabinet sheds some light on his leadership style.

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By Ajay Chhibber, Director General, Independent Evaluation, Government of India

The world’s largest exercise in electoral democracy has delivered a clear mandate for development. The aspiring voters want decent jobs and a growing India. They have pinned their hopes on a Modi-led government to deliver them the kind of India where real jobs are created and services are delivered cleanly and efficiently. They want better governance not bigger government. They want a hand up, not a handout. They want India to become a US$10tn global powerhouse.

The UPA government was given such a mandate in 2009, but misread the message and blew away five years into more handouts, large fiscal deficits, raging inflation and eventually a slumping economy. Instead of creating real jobs, it focused on make work through badly run schemes like MGNREGA (The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) which have cost the country over Rs 1tn so far. It saw expanded subsidy programs costing almost 4 per cent of GDP – but with not much of it going to the poor. Read more

Who do India’s social media masses want to see in Narendra Modi’s new cabinet?

Simplify360º, a media monitoring organisation, analysed several thousands Tweets with the hashtag #DreamCabinet, posted from results day on May 16 through to May 19, to give a straw poll of internet users’ preferred cabinet line-up.

Modi, prime minister-elect following the landslide election victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is set to be sworn in with his cabinet in at an oath-taking ceremony on May 26 – putting considerable time pressure on Modi. Read more

By Srivatsa Krishna

There is enormous speculation about the complexion of the economic regime of Narendra Modi now that he has been elected prime minister of India. His policies are an unknown-unknown. Separating signal from noise, one can change this, if not to a known-known at least to a known-unknown.

The clues can be found in two broad streams of evidence, namely Modi’s own record of 12 years in Gujarat and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) when it was in power nationally.

Modi’s biggest strength is that he is an economic pragmatist who has excelled in “getting things done”. He is known to bang heads together and de-bottleneck issues quickly, rather than wait for sequential decision-making, which is what most governments do. Read more

By Derek Scissors, American Enterprise Institute

The Indian election is over. Does this mean Indian economic reform will restart?

There is no point expecting India to adopt an ideal economic reform program. The country is still full of quasi-socialists and has not made up its mind what it wants, much less how to achieve it. Nonetheless, the election offers a genuine opportunity to initiate high and sustained income growth. Read more

By Amitabh Dubey, Director of India Research, Trusted Sources

Equity and currency markets seem to have priced in a strong Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led coalition government, and could no doubt rally further if the BJP alliance crosses the majority mark of 272 when votes are counted on 16 May. The logic is clear: a stable coalition would be much better able to coordinate disparate ministries, slash red tape and reduce the fiscal deficit than one reliant on regional satraps with minds of their own.

Let us assume that a strong Narendra Modi-led government does emerge. This would raise already high expectations of a solid reform agenda that accelerates investment while inhibiting crony capitalism. Recall that the Congress Party (CP)-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) was reelected with much fanfare in 2009, but was derailed by revelations of crony capitalism and state capture. Read more

By Siddharth Mazumdar, Citizens for Accountable Governance (which campaigned for Modi)

It has long been assumed that Indian parliamentary elections are not national elections but rather an aggregation of 28 provincial polls. Given the country’s complexity, it has been argued, voters rarely vote on national topics and very few leaders can achieve a pan-Indian presence.

But campaigning for India’s 16th general election appears to show the underpinnings of a truly “national election”. Much of the credit for this should go to Narendra Modi, the opposition prime ministerial candidate of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), who in many ways set the agenda and the tone for the 2014 polls.

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