In many ways, 2022 could be a turning point in the Modi era. Decisions made through 2021-22 will largely determine the contours of Modi’s legacy, although much will ultimately hinge on execution and delivery. That said, the completion of eight years is a good time to assess what has worked for Modi, the prime minister.
Modi is India’s first right-wing leader to implement a welfare policy. He constructed himself in the image of a social democrat and snatched the agenda from the center-left parties, notably from Congress. It’s not like the ideas and patterns were missing earlier. But the scale of implementation has been impressive.
The national food security program, for example, covers about 75% of rural households and 50% of urban households. By deploying markers of deprivation in the Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) data, instead of backward castes and figures below the poverty line () alone as criteria for identifying potential beneficiaries, the Modi government has been able to create a broader and more inclusive “underclass”. who have been targeted diet after diet. They are now represented in the political construction of “labhaarthis”, used effectively during the February-March elections in Uttar Pradesh.
The almost perfect synchronization between the party and the government is the other distinguishing factor. In the past, the BJP was infamous for its factional fighting, often allowing the RSS to wield greater influence as a peacemaker. Modi has ensured unity of command in the BJP and government by adopting a function-based team approach that emphasizes performance while relying on strong oversight to ensure compliance. Privilege-client relationships are actively discouraged and scorned if necessary.
Moreover, a performance-driven approach allowed Modi to enlist the services of people who may not have been ideological fellow travelers, but are now important to get the job done. Essential condition: respect the code of leadership and discipline.
So the Modi-Amit Shah BJP, contrary to perception, is actually a diverse group of leaders, ministers and workers – many of them former bureaucrats and several former Congress leaders. This dynamic has also enabled them to reinvent the BJP as a more effective political unit that can force the multiplication of government initiatives and not lose the battle of communication and projection to opposition state governments.
After eight years, however, it is also important to take stock. The challenge will be to leverage social protection policies for economic growth and wealth creation. The GoI has the daunting task of generating growth in a turbulent world, and therein lies the challenge as India seeks to establish new terms of engagement.
The next few years will be all about getting the right “inside out” strategy in place, which basically means betting on manufacturing for the world through the slogan “Aatmanirbhar Bharat” must pay off. Without wealth creation and imaginative income generation, many social protection programs could be strained. More importantly, India’s rich demographic dividend of its young population will necessitate avenues for which global capital must be channeled into the country.
Politically, the international environment is favorable to India, particularly in light of the aggressive behavior of the Chinese and Russians. This must go hand in hand with conducive and predictable national policies for long-term investments. The criterion here will be how much foreign investment in the country is to create products for world markets, not just for domestic consumption.
The transformation needed is somewhat similar to that which China underwent in the 1990s, which created global dependencies that enabled its entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO). India has wider political acceptability on the world stage than China. However, it must adopt global trade standards on which supply chains, manufacturing and trade are based.
For this, major political initiatives are needed, which must be implemented with the same zeal as social policies. Because, as India plans to sign bilateral trade agreements with Britain and possibly the EU in the medium term, it will need to give new impetus to the implementation of new labor codes, adopt better environmental standards and develop smooth energy transition plans for its rapid urbanization. countryside.
Get ready for bigger things
The Covid pandemic and subsequent geopolitical shifts have sparked global momentum for democracies to join hands. Differences within democracies, such as liberals versus non-liberals, appear as second-order issues in the face of larger global challenges. In fact, Modi, in his eighth year as prime minister, may well be projected as the top Democratic leader among key states, a mantle Germany’s Angela Merkel once wore.
On a more sober note, however, all of these threads need to be seamlessly brought together and linked to national policies in an environment of relative social peace and political determination. Yes, it takes time for such a set of policies to materialize. So, in the meantime, India will have to have its say while avoiding unnecessary trouble. In other words, play strategically “attack-defend” while trying to leverage the first eight years for a bigger change.