Reform doubts grow after 1 year of Modi

By Bhuvan Bagga ,AFP

NEW DELHI — Narendra Modi marks the first anniversary of his landslide election win in a bullish mood about his mission to transform India into a great power, despite doubts about the delivery of economic reforms. A year on from his victory, the prime minister’s domestic opponents are in disarray while the one-time pariah has won the respect of international peers. But while the economy is purring along, siren voices say the delay in implementing key reforms points to trouble ahead while murmurings about his intolerance of dissent grow louder. Hartosh Singh Bal, political editor of current affairs magazine Caravan, told AFP ��the mood certainly remains upbeat on the economy.�� But he added: ��We’ve heard slogans … we have yet to see how that will translate on the ground.�� After winning the first outright majority by any leader in three decades on May 16, 2014, Modi vowed ��to make the 21st century India’s century�� and turn it into a driver of the global economy.

��You will actually see that, internationally, the whole world is, once again, excited about India and enthusiastic about India and the opportunities that India represents,�� he told Time magazine this month. Figures show India’s economy growing faster than China’s with the IMF predicting expansion of 7.5 percent this year. Even if smaller firms are more circumspect, big business has glowed over Modi’s pledges to slash bureaucracy, streamline the tax regime and make it easier to acquire farm land. Foreign companies, which have long despaired at levels of taxation and corruption, have welcomed his drive to make India a manufacturing hub. Sceptics, however, say the growth rate and a fall in inflation owe more to a recalculation of data and a fall in oil prices than government policy. They also point out that the land bill and a national goods and service tax aimed at unifying myriad levies are struggling to get through parliament. Manoj Joshi of the Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation agreed the buoyant mood might not last. ��The economy is doing well … so one can’t quibble with that,�� he said. ��Yet of course there are concerns that unless and until there are structural reforms �X and that’s another key element of Modi’s policy �X we will not be able to sustain it.��