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Modi has chance to redefine Indian politics: US think tanks

PTI Washington | Updated on May 18, 2014

Narendra Modi’s election will open new doors for correcting the problems in the Indian economy, says an American economist

Describing the Narendra Modi-led BJP’s electoral victory as a “breathtaking landslide”, eminent American think tanks and experts have said the win has given him an opportunity to “redefine” Indian politics.

“This is a breathtaking landslide that is a victory not only for Modi but for the Indian people who have spoken out clearly against economic mismanagement and policy paralysis,” said Ashley Tellis of Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

“Hopefully, Modi’s election will open new doors for correcting the problems in the Indian economy, and if so, that is good news for US-Indian relations. But Washington still has much work to do before it can translate what may be welcome news for US business into better bilateral relations,” he noted.

“A single party with an absolute majority gives Modi the opportunity to re-define Indian politics in a way that the Congress did for many decades before. And if Modi sticks to his winning formula...he could remain India’s Prime Minister for a long time to come,” Tellis said.

US business can expect a more stable, friendly environment and will be quick to grow, said Richard Rossow, the Wadhwani Chair in US-India Policy Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“Lots of potential direct investment has been on the sidelines in the last few years, hoping for a more friendly business environment,” he said.

“Institutional investors have already been jumping back into India, with the expectation of a BJP victory. But it is unclear if the BJP will roll back some of the specific policies (tax, patents, local manufacturing mandates) that have angered a vocal minority of US companies,” Rossow said.

However, Rossow said the government-to-government relations will start slowly, particularly those involving the US Department of State, due to the visa denial hangover.

“But we can expect a renewed interest in defence collaborations, combined with renewed business interests, which will, once again, drag the US Government’s attention back toward India,” he said.

Former diplomat couple Teresita and Howard Schaffer, said, “the ‘Modi wave’ reflects both aspirations and intense disaffection with the ineffectiveness the Congress Government displayed in its second term. Expectations are high; meeting them will be an unusually great challenge.”

“Government decisions can have a great impact on India’s economy but some sticky structural features may not be possible to fix with short term administrative measures,” they said.

Russell Green, the Will Clayton Fellow in International Economics at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy and an adjunct assistant professor of economics at Rice, said, “Modi’s election victory in India will be interpreted as a big win for the economy.”

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Published on May 17, 2014
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