Modi needs to begin his work in earnest

The new Indian leader will have to find the voice of a statesman and represent all of his country.

Now that the BJP has swept to power, Narendra Modi, the new prime minister of India, has no time to waste. Simply put, he needs to get on with fixing India’s many problems, particularly as the business of government has already been on hold for several months to allow for a long spell of campaigning and a marathon six-week voting cycle.

Having promised “good days” to the people of India, Mr Modi is well aware that he must deliver on his commitment. He must clearly articulate his vision for a new India – broad pronouncements, such as the ones he made in parliament earlier this week, of being a “government which thinks about the poor, listens to the poor and which exists for the poor” will not suffice for long – and he must quickly appoint his cabinet and the team that will deliver those policies.

If Mr Modi’s victory is an indication of a desperation for change, it has also put focus on the difficulty of governing a country like India, which is plagued by corruption, conflicting interests, overbearing bureaucracy and law and order issues. That explains why, despite numerous attempts at reform and change by previous governments, the country’s infrastructure, especially outside major cities, lies in tatters, while its economy has bottomed out over the past two years. That’s also why, despite exuding confidence and pronouncing he will run an efficient, decisive government able to swiftly implement policies, Mr Modi’s job will not be easy.

During his tenure as chief minister of Gujarat, the state achieved an average growth rate of 13.4 per cent, when the national rate stood at just above 7 per cent for the period. He attracted unprecedented investments, both domestic and foreign. Gujarat is considered an economic miracle for good reason. But what’s the benefit of a thriving economy if its fruits cannot be enjoyed by all citizens?

For that to happen, Mr Modi will have to find the voice of a statesman and represent all of India, and not just the winners.

Many in the country, particularly Muslims and Christians, are keen to hear him say that his prime concern is economic prosperity rather than Hindu nationalism. The sooner he sends that message, the better the prospects of him fulfilling his promises. That’s why he has no time to waste.

Published: May 21, 2014 04:00 AM


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