What to Expect in Modi’s India

Narendra_Modi

Clusivius:

Clusivius-sqWith the sweeping win on Friday of India’s National Democratic Alliance to parliament and BJP’s Narendra Modi as Prime Minister, international political pundits are declaring a new age for India.  It marks the beginning of “India’s Century”, Modi’s supporters proclaim.  But how likely is that?

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) picked up a remarkable 166 seats in the month-long general election to now hold 282 out of 545 seats (51.7%) in India’s lower house of Parliament, the Lok Sabha.  This is the first time a single party has won a majority since 1984.  The National Democratic Alliance, led by the BJP, now holds 336 seats, giving the coalition a comfortable majority.

The NDA’s main opposition, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), is now reduced to just 59 seats.  The once-mighty Indian National Congress (INC) still dominates the opposition UPA (at least for the moment) and remains in charge in the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of Parliament.  Since India’s independence in 1947, the INC has usually dominated India itself, and it has never suffered so great a blow as it has in this election.  Now the pundits are announcing the end of the INC, or at least the end of the long-ascendant Nehru-Gandhi dynasty within the INC.  But this is very premature.

According to Indian news sources, many of the people of India, particularly the ever-restless youth, have grown fed up with the empty platitudes of the NDA programs of social and economic equality and sustainable development that seem to lead nowhere.  With rapid economic growth in India from 2003 to 2007, the country has gotten a taste of prosperity but it hasn’t spread far enough, and the economy began to slow after the 2008 international economic crisis, falling by half to a measly 4% growth by 2012 along with high inflation and an industrial slump.

Narendra Modi

But this election was more about Narendra Modi than anything else.  From the Christian Science Monitor:

Never has India had a prime minister like Narendra Modi.

The right wing Hindu nationalist who swept to power in parliamentary elections, according to official results Friday, is a proud outsider. A self-made man whose father sold tea at a railroad station, his blunt style, poor English, and disdain for social graces have made him as distasteful to India’s traditional ruling class as he is popular elsewhere.

“He is breaking the door down,” says Tavleen Singh, a political columnist. “He is the wrong caste, the wrong class, the wrong everything.”

Mr. Modi, a barrel-chested man with a neatly trimmed white beard and mustache, is the first leader of a provincial state to win India’s top political prize. He campaigned hard on his record of economic success in the western state of Gujarat, promising similar benefits for the rest of the country under his leadership.

“He is a doer … who could galvanize the country,” says Gurcharan Das, a multinational company executive turned author. “He is determined and hungry and he can carry people with his sense of purpose.”

Economic Liberalization for the Global Economy

Narendra Modi led the Indian state of Gujarat from 2001 to the present, overseeing some of the fastest sustained economic growth in the country.  In addition, Modi has reduced Gujarat’s bureaucratic hurdles to large business projects and public works.  From NDTV:

A story often told to illustrate the so-called Gujarat Model dates to 2008, when Tata Motors, the Indian automaker, ran into trouble in the state of West Bengal. Tata had bought land to produce its new low-cost car, the Nano, but farmers were protesting, claiming that they had been underpaid or forced from their land. Exasperated by two years of mounting resistance, Tata announced that it was pulling out of West Bengal.

Within a few hours, Modi sent a text message to Ratan Tata, the company’s president. It consisted of one sentence, Modi later told an interviewer: “Welcome to Gujarat.” (Just an SMS brought Nano to Gujarat: Modi)

Gujarat transferred land to the company within a few days. The plot was mostly on unused government property, so it was not as miraculous as it might have seemed, but it sent a powerful message. Over the next several years, Ford, Peugeot and Maruti Suzuki followed suit with their own plans to build factories in Gujarat. Modi began to market speedy land acquisition – “no red tape, only red carpet,” as he put it – to investors as one of his state’s selling points.

So we can expect economic liberalism across all of India at least as dramatic as that created by the 1991 economic reforms of Narasimha Rao.

While Modi’s BJP initially favored an economic policy of self-sufficiency (swadeshi), the party has gradually shifted its stance towards globalization.  Given Modi’s reputation in Gujarat, he almost certainly aligns himself with the globalist business faction.  Indian businesses have poured millions into his recent campaign on this assumption.

Assuming Modi and the BJP leadership are economic globalists, India will open itself even further to international commerce from global corporations, providing an industrial alternative to China and an enlarged source of cheap white collar labor for the West.  The NDA will probably remove many of the economic regulations that continue to hamper the economy, particularly in labor and agriculture.  The Indians will likely undertake large public and private works to improve infrastructure and provide cheaper energy.

But with the crippled international economy, it is difficult to predict whether or not these actions will improve India’s economy in the short run.  Modi will have to deliver on his economic promises if he wants to retain the goodwill of the people.

Domestic Unrest?

In a country as ethnically, religiously, and economically diverse as India, it is likely that some of Narendra Modi’s reforms will cause unrest, and it will be interesting to see how Modi handles this.  Will the great centralizer and autocrat tolerate dissent?

gujarat-riots-2002

The Gujarat riots of 2002

In a sense, the BJP is a large version of the dozens of other political parties in India that promote the ethnic/religious/cultural interests of their particular constituencies: the BJP has a reputation for representing Hindu nationalists.  But the party claims that its brand of  nationalism promotes Indian cultural heritage over the intrusions of Westernization, and they consider Indian culture to belong to all of India’s religions and ethnic groups.  Historically the Hindus have shown great tolerance for the presence of other faiths and ethnic groups in their midst. It is difficult to predict how moderate BJP’s nationalism may be: the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance ruled India from 1998 to 2004, but they did not have the absolute majority that they now possess.

Plus there is Narendra Modi himself, and he will likely increase his already great influence within the BJP.  Modi’s critics point to the 2002 ethnic anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat, saying that he didn’t do enough to quell the rioters or that he even encouraged them.  In the elections that followed, Modi is accused of making several anti-Muslim statements.  Regardless of what happened in those years, many of India’s 177 million Muslims are wary of Modi and the BJP.

And it doesn’t take much to set the Muslims off, even in India.

Relations with Pakistan and China

If the globalist elite are planning another World War, they aren’t going to let India slip free of their schemes.  India has clashed with Pakistan and China in the past over seemingly petty border issues and over the status of Kashmir.

Currently relations are strained but cordial between Pakistan and India, and the two countries repeatedly engage in “confidence-building measures”.  However, as history has repeatedly shown, it only takes one terrorist attack or religious riot to end these fledgling attempts.  If the globalists want a war to flare up between these two countries, the tinder is always dry.

Relations between China and India are only slightly better.  Neither country can agree on sections of the border between them, particularly in Kashmir, and both countries have heavily fortified their border areas along the Himilayas.  War is less likely to start here, but either party will make a move if they think they can get away with it.

Overall, the rise of Modi in India probably reflects a restless mood in India’s people, and in the end India will likely see a growth in international commerce and globalist integration.  They may lose some national sovereignty and cultural diversity through globalization, and they could even see an advance in the feminist and egalitarian agendas through globalist exposure despite BJP’s ostensible opposition to those things.  And Modi could certainly be used to bring India into a World War fighting against China and Pakistan.

Patulcius:

Patulcius-sqIt is also possible that very little will come of this admittedly landslide victory of Narendra Modi and the BJP.

The opposition still controls the upper house in the Indian Parliament and could thwart the most extreme portions of the NDA program.

And Modi could pursue a more conciliatory foreign policy with Pakistan and China, as BJP Prime Minister Vajpayee did in the 1990’s.  This would favor improved economic ties, which seems to be Modi’s main focus.

Modi could focus primarily on economic improvement.

Clusivius:

Clusivius-sqModi seems too ambitious and autocratic to follow such a tame course.  You, Patulcius, have made a weak case for your position!  You don’t even seem convinced of your own arguments!

Patulcius:

Patulcius-sqTime will tell.

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3 Comments

    • Interesting. Take office, then remove the old rivals? Or maybe he had dirt on someone. And maybe his death can be blamed on someone else. Surely, though, it wasn’t random.

      Accidental deaths of politicians are almost never random.

      Thanks for sharing this; I probably wouldn’t have noticed until maybe following up on this story in a few months. By then, it probably would have slipped through the cracks.

      Ah, if only I could go back to the times when I could stomach a daily three or four-hour jaunt through the world’s headlines.

      Like

      Reply

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