Wall Street Journal on Modi government today

India has projected itself for three decades as a bright spot in a tough neighborhood. But 2019 may turn out to be the year it became a trouble spot, depending on the answers to two questions.

First, can Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government preserve India’s pluralistic democracy, or will an urge to settle scores with Muslims produce prolonged strife? Second, can the Indian economy return to the high-growth path many observers had begun to take for granted? In September annualized growth declined for its sixth straight quarter, to 4.5%, down from 7% a year earlier. This is India’s slowest growth since 2013, the year before Mr. Modi’s government was elected.

Under Mr. Modi, India has staked a claim as a “leading power” on the world stage. Its population of 1.3 billion is second only to China. The International Monetary Fund ranks India’s $2.9 trillion economy as the world’s fifth-largest, behind Germany and ahead of the U.K.

Since India began its transition to a market economy in 1991, optimists have likened it to China. Both are vast markets. Their per capita incomes were roughly comparable in 1990. India’s low base and youth bulge—more than 600 million people under 25—allow for rapid growth, in theory, long after an aging China slows. Democracy gives India the kind of deep-rooted stability that one-party China lacks. To smaller Asian nations, India’s success sends a powerful message: You don’t need to choose between prosperity and liberty.

These arguments, embraced by many in Western boardrooms and governments, have spread because they contain an element of truth. But the economic slowdown, coupled with the rise of an aggressive strain of Hindu nationalism, raises another prospect. Instead of becoming a counterweight to China and an engine of global economic growth, India may be headed toward internal instability and economic stagnation.

Since the passage earlier this month of a controversial law that for the first time creates a religious test for citizenship, tens of thousands of students, secularists and Muslims have taken to the streets in protest. Security forces have killed 25 people, including at least 15 Muslims in one state, Uttar Pradesh. The federal government has sent troops to the troubled northeast to quell local resentment toward Bengali-speaking migrants, Hindu and Muslim alike.

Mr. Modi has sought to reassure India’s 172 million Muslims that the citizenship law—which speeds up naturalization for non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh—has no bearing on their status. The prime minister has also sought to decouple the law from a proposed national database that would list all Indian citizens.

Critics warn that combined with the citizenship law the database would allow the government to disenfranchise Muslims by raising doubts about their documentation. Followers of other faiths would still qualify for citizenship. A similar process is under way in Assam, where Muslims deemed illegal migrants may be herded into detention camps.

A different government might have been able to calm these fears. But though Mr. Modi speaks of taking all Indians along the path of development, his record in office has only heightened worries that India will abandon its commitment to religious pluralism. Mr. Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah have empowered party hardliners accused of violence against Muslims. The bloodbath in Uttar Pradesh is no coincidence. That state is led by Yogi Adityanath, a militant Hindu monk known for his violent rhetoric and for setting up a private anti-Muslim militia.

In August, the Modi government scrapped autonomy for India’s only Muslim-majority state, Jammu and Kashmir, and bifurcated it into two federally administered territories. Authorities have arrested thousands of people—including three of the state’s former chief ministers. Earlier this month, the government’s ongoing ban on mobile internet in the Kashmir Valley set a dubious record—130 days, the longest ever internet shutdown in a democracy.

Meanwhile, the economy continues to sputter. In May, Labor Ministry data showed unemployment in 2017-18 at a 45-year high of 6.1%. Harvard’s Arvind Subramanian reckons that a new method of calculating gross domestic product overestimated economic growth by as much as 2.5 percentage points a year between 2011 and 2017.

In a new paper, Mr. Subramanian and former IMF India representative Josh Felman argue that India is in the midst of a “great slowdown” marked by weak balance sheets in banks, infrastructure companies, nonbanking finance companies and real estate. In November, New Delhi abruptly pulled out of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, a trade deal that would have integrated India’s economy more closely with East Asia.

Many supporters of the government pooh-pooh concerns about India’s prospects and expect a golden Hindu dawn. But unless Messrs. Modi and Shah can unite a deeply divided society and invigorate a languishing economy, India’s Hindu nationalist strongmen may instead be leading their country off a cliff. more  

Dear Ruchika, First of all get your facts right then comment on the situation. This is the only government which is trying to solve the problems which are legacy of the Congress Nehru Gandhi Dynasty which ruled the country for more than 60 years. All their tenures were always full of scams right from Jeep Scam of 1950 to Coal or Spectrum Allocation. Do you think that the problem's troubling the banks of NPA's is recent. All the huge bad loans which required approval and sanction from ministry and collaterals were disbursed during UPA's tenure and no concrete action was allowed to be taken for recovery of Loan from big defaulters. RBI was instructed to issue a statement that disclosing the name of Top 50 defaulters will hamper growth and erode confidence in Banks. Why was this allowed to happen. Who issued direct or indirect orders. Please check and enlighten me if you have any information. Under which regime was the Sale of PSU's started to fund government expenditure. It was led by Manmohan Singh(you can check the facts) as FM. If he is such a great economist why did the economy falter in 2008 and people lost huge amounts in capital markets. The Congress had full 10 years of uninterrupted rule. Check the no of roads built, connectivity provided, No of Houses Built, Constructed Toilets, Provided Electricity to Villages? how much fiscal deficit grew. All this under Manmohan Singh ( He is a great economist but could not do anything as he was a yes man and a rubber stamp. Now let us come to your terms of Communal and Fascist Government. This fascist Government resolved the problem of Jammu and Kashmir. If you have any interaction with any Kashmiri please check with them the problems. Our Indian Constitution Laws were not applicable there, Local Police was not accountable to centre and took no measures to control local unrest which was being fuelled as all the funds sent by Centre were misappropriated by the Trioka of Mufti, Abdullah's and Local Congress Leaders(I.e Ghulam Nabi Azad and ilk). CAG could not audit accounts. Separatists were given a free run as Local Police being unaccountable kow towed to the Kashmiri regime who wanted unrest to be kept alive and funds being siphoned off by their cronies. The Army never had a free hand. I have a first hand experience as I have served in J & K. This government cares for the defence forces. Tell me which other Prime Minister apart from Lal Bahadur Shastri ever visited the frontier's or spent days with them, boosted their morale. This Government recognizes the problems of Ex Servicemen. What UPA did was take away the reemployment opportunities of ex serviceman by privatising all toll booths( which were mandated to be run by ex servicemen and employed ex servicemen who are discharged from service in middle ages as a young army is needed in combat. I am sure you are not aware of all this. I can go on and on the list of omissions and commissions by Congress and its allies is endless. They have always followed a policy of appeasement. You are a woman, how will you feel if your husband has the power to deprive of you of all your privileges by just uttering three words. Are you aware when talaq is given only the meher(equivalent to dowry) is returned. No maintenance nothing. Full Stop. Who resolved this injustice for Muslim Women. This Fascist Government. I can further share the list of problems which are a legacy of the erstwhile government and dynasty and firmly behind anyone who is trying to undo wrongs of past and making our nation strong. Lastly is it wrong to be a Hindu. Why is that when Hindus assert their right there is lot of Ho Halla. Where were all these people(Left, Secularists, Owaisi and his ilk) when Hindus had flee from Kashmir overnight and became refugees in their own country. Why they don't speak for their rights. Are they not Indian. Introspect and then comment. Just don't get carried away. Lot of False Propaganda and mischief is being spread as Corrupt are afraid that their sins will be unearthed and anti nationals know their days are over, they will be taken to task. Yes if you support tukde tukde gang then I have nothing more to say more  
There does not seem to be anything new in this Article which we have not already been reading in the local newspapers. more  
Economy, Religion-no link, why create confusion? more  
Mrs Maheshwari, thanks for sharing Modi Goverment's article in Wall street. But before discussing governace, gowth, GDP, Economic slowdown; please think about country's in general situation: 1. I stay in Delhi, Dwarka. Only in Dwarka- what I observe, I would like to share- >> you can see cars with tinted glass roaming scot free. Police do not catch these cars. In most of the police stations you can see tinted glass cars are parking outside police station. How tinted glass cars can be parked outside police stations? 2. You can see in delhi roads ome big cars , like fortuner kind of cars carrying small party flags on their bonnet can do anything in Delhi. They are above laws !! How they become empowered to be above laws ???????? 3. The above category people can carry fire arms, they can threaten ordinay citizens like me on the street, even they forcely enter our houses to threaten or even kill us. How these people become empowered???? Do you think these people not known by Govt policy makers, rulers, bureacrates. and of course Police knows them well. 4. In universities, govt and pruvate colleges students are so much frustrated, they are not getting jobs. Every talented student cannot be so smalr looking or communicative which is criteria laid by private companies, Then where they will go ? Would not they join revolutionary groups to show their anger in their lives??? 5. I am working for a private company, running a family in Delhi. But at the same time I also have guts to correct the FALLING SYSTEMS in the country. 6. Before discussing the big topics of ECONOMICS, SLOWDOWN, GOVERNACE - we should be concerned about the DEMOCRATIC GOONDARAJ in the society. How this LAWLESSNESS STATE OF THE COUNTRY can be corrected??? HOW ? HOW? HOW? 7. The above tinted car glass kind of perspns are not only in Delhi-Dwarka. You can find them in all cities and metropolitans of India, also in rural areas. ISN'T AN EPIDEMIC OF OUR BELOVED COUNTRY? more  
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