The admiration stemming from the WEF survey may vanish quickly if PM Narendra Modi fails to push big reforms after Bihar assembly elections.
There may not be much to show on the ground in terms of improvement in the growth and investment scenario due to the NDA government’s policies since it has taken over in May 2014, but it is also a fact that faith on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, both domestically and globally, that he has the potential to deliver, somehow, is unflinching.
The World Bank’s ‘Doing Business 2016’ annual report has ranked India 130 out of 189 countries, up 12 places from last year.
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Its chief economist and former chief economic adviser to the Indian government, Kaushik Basu thinks this is a signal that things are moving in India and the situation will only improve from here — and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is of the view that it could be a lot better even now as the government has taken a number of steps to improve the ease of doing business scenario in the last few months, which have not been captured.
Though it will not be a good idea to consider the World Bank ranking as a yardstick for betterment in the investment scenario, it does reflect a change in the outlook for India.
Similarly, it is not out of place that a World Economic Forum (WEF) survey has now listed Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the 10th most admired personality globally, which has ranked late South African President Nelson Mandela on the top.
PM Modi and Nobel laureate Mohammad Yunus, who is on the 9th spot, got 3% votes each from the respondents numbering 1,084, while 20.1% favoured Mandela.
Incidentally, Mahatma Gandhi is ranked 4th in the survey, which includes Pope Francis (2nd), Tesla Motors’ CEO Elon Musk (3rd), Microsoft Founder Bill Gates (5th), US President Barack Obama (6th), Virgin Group Founder Richard Branson (7th), Apple Founder Steve Jobs (8th), and US investor Warren Buffett (11th).
While PM Modi getting into this select group is laudable, this admiration can vanish fast if he is not able to deliver what he has promised.
It is true that luck has been on his side since he has taken over as Prime Minister with global commodity prices and pressure on the Chinese economy favouring India, but this has to be supported now by finding ways to pass the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill in Parliament, along with the labour law norms to ensure easy entry and exit, and also hire and fire options for the companies.
Without an easier land acquisition and transparent and stable tax environment, investment can’t grow to support a sustained 8-10% GDP growth.
Unless Aadhaar is utilized extensively in the disbursement of subsidies and entitlements, resources can’t be freed up by plugging leakages to enhance public investment.
All this requires deft political and administrative moves, not just rhetoric.