Indian PM Modi's first year in office: A look at his achievements and what he still has to do

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses his supporters during a rally in Mathura, India, on May 25, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses his supporters during a rally in Mathura, India, on May 25, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

INDIAN Prime Minister Narendra Modi marked his one year in office on Tuesday with a week-long campaign that will see his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) holding 200 rallies across India to highlight the government's achievements.

Here's a look back at the achievements he has made in his first year and the challenges that remain:

FOREIGN POLICY

Achievements:

- Since taking office, Mr Modi has made big strides in foreign policy. He has made visits to 18 countries as well as hosted world leaders in India. Analysts say the flurry of visits abroad is aimed at raising international interest in India, convincing major economic powers such as China that India is ready for large-scale investments, while deepening strategic alliances with the United States, Japan and Australia.

Challenges:

- Mr Modi's plan to boost the Indian economy by reaching out to its South Asian neighbours, however, has faced challenges. A year on, there is still little improvement in ties between India and Pakistan, with Mr Modi hesitant to initiate diplomatic talks.

Meanwhile, China's growing presence in countries like Sri Lanka remains a source of irritation for India.

- Mr Modi's "Act East" policy - aimed at creating linkages between India's underdeveloped north-east and South-east Asia - also faces hurdles and it remains unclear certain how he plans to breathe life into the "Act East" policy.

- The United States early this year released the US-India Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia-Pacific and the Indian Ocean Region, which supports freedom of navigation. But with the US heading into a presidential election next year, it remains to be seen how the two countries intend to join forces in the Asia-Pacific region.

ECONOMY

Achievements:

- Mr Modi led his BJP to a landslide victory last year on the back of a promise to initiate an economic revival and create jobs. He has also unveiled the "Make in India" initiative to boost manufacturing and has touted the initiative on his visits abroad.

Challenges:

- Big-bang reforms like amending land acquisition rules and introducing a unified tax system have so far been blocked by the opposition in the Upper House of Parliament, where the BJP does not have a majority.

DOMESTIC ISSUES

Challenges:

- A key issue for Mr Modi is the is the resurgence of right-wing Hindu groups who have been emboldened by the fact that the Hindu nationalist BJP is in power. Such groups have even organised reconversion programmes for those who had left the Hindu faith.

Mr Mohan Bhagwat, head of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the ideological backbone of the BJP, also sparked outrage when he said that Mother Teresa's work for the poor had been motivated by a desire to convert Indians to Christianity.

Analysts say Mr Modi will have to seek to rein in these elements in order to reassure the country's minority groups.

- The mixed success of the BJP government is already seen to have had an impact on its political fortunes, with the populist Aam Aadmi Party defeating the BJP in state elections in Delhi in February.

Mr Modi will go into his second year facing a key challenge - The BJP will face a tough election in the Hindi heartland state of Bihar, where the party is politically weak and faces disenfranchised farmers angry over impending amendments to the law that will make it easier for corporates to get farmland.

idayus@sph.com.sg