Last year Narendra Modi won an unusually strong majority in India’s parliamentary election. Modi subsequently visited the U.S. and was warmly welcomed by both the Obama administration and Indian-Americans.
Although ethnic Indians circled the globe as entrepreneurs and traders, the Delhi government turned dirigiste economics into a state religion. Mind-numbing bureaucracies, rules, and inefficiencies were legion.
Eventually modest reform came, but even half-hearted half-steps generated overwhelming political opposition. Last May the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, led by Modi, handed the venerable Congress Party its greatest defeat ever. He seemed poised to transform his nation economically.
As the anniversary of that visit approaches, the Modi dream is fading. He simply may not believe in a liberal free market.
Moreover, few reforms of significance have been implemented. The failures overshadow the Modi government’s successes and highlight its lost opportunities. Critics cite continuing outsize budget deficits and state direction of bank lending.
Former privatization minister Arun Shourie observed last December: “when all is said and done, more is said than done.” Unfortunately, Modi has missed the “honeymoon” period during which his political capital was at its greatest. Time is slipping away.