The Top 10 Successes of Narendra Modi’s First Year – India Real Time – WSJ

Opinions differ on what Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has accomplished in his first year but most observers agree he has been busy since taking over last May.

Opinions differ on what Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has accomplished in his first year but most observers agree he has been busy since taking over last May.

He’s been relentless, offering constituents of world’s largest democracy a constant flow of policy speeches, international trips, colorful photo opportunities and ambitious new programs.

His charismatic style of governing has had mixed results.

While he has had some failures–including his party’s defeat in the Delhi elections and its inability to calm concerns within minority communities as outlined in this accompanying post about Mr. Modi’s misses—he has also had some impressive successes.

Here are 10 that stood out:

More Foreign Direct Investment: There was no big-bang busting India open to international competition and deregulation in Mr. Modi’s first year, but the prime minister has to get credit for allowing more FDI in the insurance, defense and other sectors.

Diesel Deregulation: This politically unpopular move was delayed for years but Mr. Modi just ripped the Band-Aid off and freed up diesel prices to move with the global market, potentially saving the government billions of dollars.

Global Diplomacy: Though he made little headway with India’s biggest rival–Pakistan–Mr. Modi’s globetrotting brought the country closer to most of its other neighbors and raised the nation’s profile around the world. Getting President Barack Obama to India for Republic Day was a brilliant public relations coup even if the U.S. President voiced concerns about how India treated its minorities while here.

GDP Growth: Some time during Mr. Modi’s reign, India overtook China as the fastest- growing large economy in the world. Although most of the jump in GDP came from a reworking of how the number is calculated, the revised figure produced a new point of pride for many.

Direct Subsidy Payments: Replacing leaky, expensive-to-administer and badly-targeted subsidies with direct payments to the poor is a more efficient way to help the country’s needy. Mr. Modi started direct payments for cooking gas in some places and is hoping to expand them to subsidize food and fertilizer purchases for the poorest.

Coal and Telecom Auctions: Coal mining rights and telecommunications bandwidth were at the center of the biggest scandals that helped to sink the Congress party in general elections in 2014. Mr. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party did not shy away from putting them back on the block to help raise money for the government and kick-start growth in these crucial sectors.

Media Management: Prime Minister Modi starved the media of access at the same time as flooding the airwaves. Speeches broadcast on every news channel, a regular radio show, carefully curated photo opportunities in weird outfits and wonderful places and an unprecedented barrage ofsocial media messages through Facebook, Twitter and even Weibo in China have all been used to let the world know what Mr. Modi is doing and thinking.

Scandal Free: Of course it’s early in the game, but so far in his premiership, there has been no huge scandal to suggest that the latest people in power are more corrupt than the last batch.

This Outfit: When the prime minister greeted President Obama, wearing this dapper suit in January, he wrecked the Internet. Mr. Modi’s vanity pinstripes had the worldwide web buzzing for weeks after Mr. Obama left and then sold at auction for close to $700,000. The money went to charities that work to educate girls.

Mr. Modi hugs Barack Obama while wearing a pinstrip suit with his name in the stitching.

AFP/Getty

He’s been relentless, offering constituents of world’s largest democracy a constant flow of policy speeches, international trips, colorful photo opportunities and ambitious new programs.

His charismatic style of governing has had mixed results.

While he has had some failures–including his party’s defeat in the Delhi elections and its inability to calm concerns within minority communities as outlined in this accompanying post about Mr. Modi’s misses—he has also had some impressive successes.

Here are 10 that stood out:

More Foreign Direct Investment: There was no big-bang busting India open to international competition and deregulation in Mr. Modi’s first year, but the prime minister has to get credit for allowing more FDI in the insurance, defense and other sectors.

Diesel Deregulation: This politically unpopular move was delayed for years but Mr. Modi just ripped the Band-Aid off and freed up diesel prices to move with the global market, potentially saving the government billions of dollars.

Global Diplomacy: Though he made little headway with India’s biggest rival–Pakistan–Mr. Modi’s globetrotting brought the country closer to most of its other neighbors and raised the nation’s profile around the world. Getting President Barack Obama to India for Republic Day was a brilliant public relations coup even if the U.S. President voiced concerns about how India treated its minorities while here.

GDP Growth: Some time during Mr. Modi’s reign, India overtook China as the fastest- growing large economy in the world. Although most of the jump in GDP came from a reworking of how the number is calculated, the revised figure produced a new point of pride for many.

Direct Subsidy Payments: Replacing leaky, expensive-to-administer and badly-targeted subsidies with direct payments to the poor is a more efficient way to help the country’s needy. Mr. Modi started direct payments for cooking gas in some places and is hoping to expand them to subsidize food and fertilizer purchases for the poorest.

Coal and Telecom Auctions: Coal mining rights and telecommunications bandwidth were at the center of the biggest scandals that helped to sink the Congress party in general elections in 2014. Mr. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party did not shy away from putting them back on the block to help raise money for the government and kick-start growth in these crucial sectors.

Media Management: Prime Minister Modi starved the media of access at the same time as flooding the airwaves. Speeches broadcast on every news channel, a regular radio show, carefully curated photo opportunities in weird outfits and wonderful places and an unprecedented barrage of social media messages through Facebook, Twitter and even Weibo in China have all been used to let the world know what Mr. Modi is doing and thinking.

Scandal Free: Of course it’s early in the game, but so far in his premiership, there has been no huge scandal to suggest that the latest people in power are more corrupt than the last batch.

This Outfit: When the prime minister greeted President Obama, wearing this dapper suit in January, he wrecked the Internet. Mr. Modi’s vanity pinstripes had the worldwide web buzzing for weeks after Mr. Obama left and then sold at auction for close to $700,000. The money went to charities that work to educate girls.

Mr. Modi hugs Barack Obama while wearing a pinstrip suit with his name in the stitching. AFP/Getty

This Solo: Mr. Modi needed only a few minutes watching a Taiko drum performance during his visit to Japan before he grabbed the sticks and proved he could bash it out with the best of them.

via The Top 10 Successes of Narendra Modi’s First Year – India Real Time – WSJ.

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