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BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt MAY 2014 • WEEK FOUR
What will Narendra
Modi s India look
The country s prime minister-in-wait-
ing---figure and an unproven commodity on
the international stage.
Analysts predict his arrival in the country s
top office will bring a marked change in
direction for the world s most populous
democracy, a nation whose modern character
has been defined by the inclusive, secular
and liberal approach of the Congress Party,
which has governed for most of the post-
The only question, they say, is how great
a departure Modi s premiership will be from
what has come before.
"There will be a big change," analyst and
journalist Arati Jerath told CNN ahead of
the announcement of his Bharatiya Janata
Party s (Indian People s Party) sweep at the
"The desire for change very clearly (is
there)... I think people are looking for another
kind of government.
"His vision for India is not the kind of
inclusive, secularist vision that we have been
used to -- it is a much more right-wing,
pro-Hindu vision," she said.
"I ... see an increase in social tension with
groups that are not included in his vision."
The 63-year-old former tea seller s
immense popularity---a Pew survey ahead of
the elections found nearly 80 per cent of
respondents held a positive view of him---
stems in large part from his reputation as a
tough, "can-do" administrator, the man with
the medicine to kickstart India s stuttering
His vision for India is not the kind of
inclusive, secularist vision that we have been
used to; it is a much more right-wing, pro-
"Modi is a good administrator," said
Ramesh Menon, author of an unauthorised
biography of the politician. "He is very strict,
gets things done. There is a fear element."
His popularity comes in spite of a lack of
strong personal charisma. Seen as hardwork-
ing and conservative, Modi had failed to
establish an "emotional connect" with voters
during campaigning, said Jerath.
Instead, his claim to the nation s top office
has largely rested on his track record since
2001 in charge of Gujarat, a state of some
60 million people whose China-like rates of
growth in recent years have been eyed envi-
ously by the rest of the country.
The Gujarat model
The so-called "Gujarat model" of devel-
opment means a focus on infrastructure,
urbanisation and eradicating red tape; seen
as a much-needed tonic for a country ranked
179th in the world by the World Bank in
terms of ease of starting a business.
A sharp contrast to the traditional approach
of the outgoing Congress Party---which has
focused on promoting inclusive growth
involving a raft of welfare schemes---it s
proven highly attractive to business. India
stocks have risen almost 18 per cent this year
at the prospect of a Modi-led government.
India s largest conglomerate, the Tata
Group, relocated a car plant into the state
four years ago, a move the company s former
chairman Ratan Tata credits in part to Modi s
"In effect, (Modi) delivered in three days
what other states which were also trying to
woo us could only offer their best endeavors
to do," he told CNN s Fareed Zakaria. "No
side deals, no quid pro quos."
The promise of economic development is
just as enticing to the public, and resonates
particularly with the aspirations of the 100
million young voters who were eligible to
cast their ballots for the first time in 2014,
said Dilip Dutta, director of the South Asian
Studies Group at the University of Sydney.
"These young voters are exposed through
electronic media to the whole world, and
have a dream of moving forward; not lagging
behind as their fathers and grandfathers have
But not everyone is convinced about Modi s
Mohan Guruswamy, a political analyst at
Delhi s Centre for Policy Alternatives, told
CNN that Modi s record in Gujarat has been
"There is no Gujarat model, and there
are other states with faster economic growth,"
he said during an interview in the build-up
to the election.
Moreover, many feel that economic devel-
opment in the state has been unequally dis-
tributed, and not matched with correspon-
ding gains in human development.
"It really is a model that favors people
who already have access to things like edu-
cation and business possibilities," said Jerath.
"He offers very little to the poor, to the weak-
er section and I think that this is a major
While she believed Modi s leadership would
see an increase in foreign and domestic
investment, his corporate agenda would also
likely lead to conflict with India s vocal civil
"I see a rise in social tension because people
have become much more conscious and they
don t want to to give up their land so easily
just because Modi wants to clear the way
forward for business," she said.
"There will be tension over forest land,
there will be tension over agricultural land...
It will be a very interesting thing to see how
he manages the challenges."
Modi s hard-nosed, occasionally abrasive
leadership style will also present a marked
departure for a country accustomed to a
more consensus-driven approach, analysts
"I see Modi as an extraordinarily ambitious
man, quite ruthless in the pursuit of his
ambition," said Jerath.
Guruswamy, who knows Modi personally,
likens his vision of a "right-wing, author-
itarian corporate state" as closer to the model
in China, and questions whether his divisive,
autocratic tendencies will translate well in
a country as boisterously democratic as India.
"It s not a place where you can press but-
tons; you have to work with people," he said.
"The prime minister of India has to be the
supreme conciliator, reconciling the aspira-
tions and demands of thousands of groups.
It s not like China where you can turn off
Weibo one day; you can t be autocratic or
they ll cut you out." (CNN)
Who is Narendra Modi?
Meet India's pro-business, Hindu nationalist PM-in-waiting
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