每日跟讀#608: Electoral victory and economic challenges for India’s Modi
On May 23, Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party claimed a thunderous sweep of India’s general elections. The party won well over the 303 seats in the lower house of Parliament required to form a government.
Due to India’s size and population, with up to 900 million people registered to vote, the election was carried out over seven phases of polling staggered over six weeks. The election, known as the world’s largest democratic exercise, was for 543 seats in India’s lower house of Parliament.
The election has been seen as a referendum on Modi. Although his economic reforms haven’t really succeeded, his popularity as a social underdog in India’s highly stratified society has endured.
Modi’s vision of India is threefold, political analysts say: getting India into the exclusive US$5 trillion economy club that includes the EU, the US, China and Japan; asserting itself as a nuclear power and a force in the world; and placing its Hindu heritage at the center of politics.
In his first term, Modi was widely credited for trying to change a culture of crony capitalism throughout government. He also introduced numerous reforms, including a nationwide goods and services tax (GST).
These were credited with helping India soar up the World Bank’s ease-of-doing-business ranking by 23 places to 77th between 2017 and 2018.
However, experts say Modi needs to do more. In particular, he needs to reduce red tape and protectionism. In December, the government announced surprise restrictions on e-commerce. These would limit how foreign companies like Walmart and Amazon could operate.
Modi’s government failed to create jobs for over a million Indians entering the labor market every month, experts say. A newspaper recently published a leaked government report, allegedly buried by the government, showing India’s unemployment at 6.1 percent, the highest since the 1970s.
India’s trade relationship with major partners, including the US and China, remains on a shaky footing.
US President Donald Trump’s administration has called out India on its high tariffs, price caps on imported US medical devices and rules around e-commerce trade.
Indian government officials say they fear Trump’s administration will soon end preferential trade treatment for India, which allows duty-free entry for up to US$5.6 billion worth of its exports to the US.
Adding to India’s troubles is the ongoing trade dispute between the US and China, which is likely to benefit countries such Japan and South Korea. India remains vulnerable to dumping of cheap Chinese imports.
Source article: http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/lang/archives/2019/05/29/2003715952/2