Advisers to Narendra Modi dream of a Thatcherite revolution

Apr 06 2014, 15:12 IST
Comments 0
When Indian opposition leader Narendra Modi gave a speech on the virtues of smaller government and privatisation on April 8 last year, supporters called him an ideological heir to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who died that day. (AP) When Indian opposition leader Narendra Modi gave a speech on the virtues of smaller government and privatisation on April 8 last year, supporters called him an ideological heir to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who died that day. (AP)
SummaryWhen Indian opposition leader Narendra Modi gave a speech on the virtues of smaller government and privatisation on April 8 last year, supporters called him an ideological heir to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who died that day.

When Indian opposition leader Narendra Modi gave a speech on the virtues of smaller government and privatisation on April 8 last year, supporters called him an ideological heir to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who died that day.

Modi, favourite to form India's next government after elections starting on Monday, has yet to unveil any detailed economic plans but it is clear that some of his closest advisers and many campaign workers have a Thatcherite ambition for him.

These supporters dismiss criticism of Modi for religious riots that killed some 1,000 people in his home state of Gujarat 12 years ago. For them, Modi stands for economic freedom.

"If you define Thatcherism as less government, free enterprise, then there is no difference between Modi-nomics and Thatcherism," said Deepak Kanth, a London-based banker now collecting funds as a volunteer for Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Kanth, who says he is on the economic right, is one of several hundred volunteers with a similar philosophy working for Modi in campaign war-rooms across the country. Among them are alumni of Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan trading floors.

"What Thatcher did with financial market reforms, you can expect a similar thing with infrastructure in India under Modi," he said, referring to Thatcher's trademark "Big Bang" of sudden financial deregulation in 1986.

Modi's inner circle also includes prominent economists and industrialists who share a desire to see his BJP draw a line under India's socialist past, cut welfare and reduce the role of government in business.

The BJP is due to unveil detailed economic plans on Monday and is expected to make populist pledges to create a massive number of manufacturing jobs and to restart India's stalled $1 trillion infrastructure development programme.

But conversations with top policy advisers to Modi suggest an agenda that goes further than the upcoming campaign manifesto, including plans to overhaul national welfare programmes. There is also a fierce debate inside his team about privatising some flagship state-run firms, including loss-making Air India.

Bibek Debroy, a prominent Indian economist speaking for the first time about his role advising Modi during the campaign, told Reuters the Hindu nationalist leader shared his market-driven policy platform and opposed handouts.

"It is essentially a belief that people don't need doles, and don't need subsidies," Debroy said. Instead, the government should focus on building infrastructure to ease poverty, he said.

ASSET CREATION

Modi's office did not respond to requests for comment on this article. Senior BJP leader

Single Page Format
Ads by Google

More from Lok Sabha Elections 2014

Reader´s Comments
| Post a Comment
Please Wait while comments are loading...