What do India’s Prime Ministerial candidates mean for its economy?

Gandhi does mention an entrepreneurship fund, but that is only for certain communities. Both Modi and Kejriwal emphasize the need for skill-enhancement and entrepreneurship at a more holistic level.

Modi talks of improving entrepreneurship and artisan skills for small-scale industry development and setting up a nationwide incubation programme for innovation and entrepreneurship.

He aims to develop the labour intensive sectors, modernize the retail and agriculture employment base and transform the employment exchanges into career centers.

Kejriwal promises a conducive entrepreneurship ecosystem by ensuring access to capital, information, infrastructure and increasing opportunities for learning and talks of countering economic distress-led migration by enhancing small-scale enterprises and traditional industries.

A push towards entrepreneurship and skill creation can help enhance the economic output and public finances. In fact, these are critical for a country of India’s size. Not many Prime Ministers in the world face the task of mobilizing employment opportunities for few hundred million citizens.

The need for the UPA to balance coalition politics took its toll on the speed of reforms. This, along with environment clearance issues, policy delays and inflation slowed down the investment cycle by companies.

Tight monetary policy kept the cost of borrowing high. Infrastructure slowed due to regulatory delays, challenges of public-private partnership model and long-term funding. New projects froze and a number of existing projects are stalled.

Sanctioning of approvals slowed, as ministers and bureaucrats preferred not to make any decision rather than risk getting embroiled in any scam.

In this environment, Gandhi aims to build upon the success of the Cabinet Committee on Investments, which has made some headway in moving stalled infrastructure projects in recent months.

He aims to speed up the completion of the industrial corridors and freight corridors, set up a national manufacturing policy to make it 22% of GDP by 2022 and enable a single-window clearance for manufacturing projects.

Modi aims to create an enabling environment for business via single-window clearance systems for faster approvals, time-bound environment clearances, investments into logistics/infrastructure, etc.

These are major expectations that companies have from Modi, given his track-record in Gujarat’s industrial and infrastructure development. But two challenges that Modi might face here are activism by opposition (something which members of the NDA alliance have also done in recent years) and managing coalition brinksmanship.

INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT

Gandhi and Modi also talk of high-speed rail connectivity, developing urban clusters/cities, road connectivity and also of supporting greenfield industrial townships and global hubs of manufacturing respectively.

Kejriwal’s focus is on an ‘honest enterprise’, free from corruption and crony capitalism. He talks of streamlining regulatory processes, fostering healthy competition in the market economy, curb monopolistic tendencies and ensuring active participation from the private sector.

All three also talk of infrastructure development in urban and rural areas, irrigation areas, renewable energy etc. Modi adds improvements to agri-rail network, while Kejriwal adds agro-processing.

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