Indian Budget 2019

A real test of Modi's reform credentials

The government's budget slated to be presented to the Indian Parliament next week will be a test of Mr Narendra Modi's reform credentials. Will the Prime Minister embrace politically difficult economic reforms to have a fighting chance of lifting his country of 1.3 billion people into middle-income status and thereby secure his legacy, or will he shy away from them to secure the next election?

Curiously, the campaign leading to the election last month that gave Mr Modi a stunning victory centred on a deft narrative spun by him around national security, global heft and religion-based muscular nationalism. The huge economic challenges staring India in the eye, such as deepening agricultural distress in rural areas and rising unemployment in urban areas, completely bypassed the debate.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 29, 2019, with the headline 'A real test of Modi's reform credentials'. Print Edition | Subscribe