Editorial: Modinomics

Feb 28 2014, 04:08 IST
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SummaryImplementation is key, but need clarity on policies

Few doubt Narendra Modi’s capability as an administrator, his track record in Gujarat speaks for itself. The BJP’s prime ministerial hopeful taking to BT cotton showed his openness to technology—in the process, he built up his state as the country’s most successful agricultural developer, with an annual growth of 10% for over a decade. His talk today, in the capital, of how IT was now passé, the future belonged to biotech and environment technology reinforced this—since Modi has a penchant for rhyme, he spoke of IT, BT and ET. The example he narrated about how solar technology was harnessed in his state showed a savvy that investors love in a chief executive. Putting the solar panels on irrigation canals reduced water losses due to evaporation, eliminated the cost of land for installing the solar panels, putting them on canals brought solar power close to villages and so lowered transmission losses and, since the canals lowered temperatures, this also raised efficiency levels by as much as 16%—music to the ears of the investors assembled in the audience. Modi also wowed investors with his talk of decentralisation, of abolishing the plethora of laws that govern the country—manifestos, he said, should give the number of laws the party proposes to abolish when it comes to power. And he’s absolutely right when he says that equating investment with just industry gives it a bad name, billions of dollars of investment are needed in agriculture, in education, in infrastructure—and it is a modern politician that wants to talk of optic fibre and gas grids in place of the usual roads and bridges. If Atal

Bihari Vajpayee’s Golden Quadrilateral of highways excited investors 15 years ago, Modi speaks of a bullet train corridor that will transform India in the manner it transformed Japan several decades ago.

But important as a grand vision is, investors need to get more granularity in policy as the elections get closer, more so in a country that has seen as many policy flip-flops as India has in the last few years. It is nice to know Modi is in favour of GST, but can he explain how he will get it through when the UPA couldn’t? Professionalising PSUs sounds a dream, more so since it has hardly ever been achieved, but is Modi open to the idea of privatisation? Will labour laws be liberalised, central to the idea of giving states the

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