The Straits Times says

A fresh mandate for progress in India

Indians have renewed the political mandate of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with a decisiveness that reflects his activist record as a nationalist reformist in his first term of office. Mr Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has swept the general election by not only maintaining its position in its core constituencies in the country's north and west but also by extending its influence eastwards and to the north-east. It has been much less successful in the south but the world's biggest democratic exercise has proved that, just as elections are the best way to throw incompetents out, they also are the best way to keep good incumbents in. Mr Modi defied the perils of incumbency with his personal integrity, above all.

Mr Modi's economic record was mixed in his first term. He cut red tape, overhauled bankruptcy laws, and introduced a nationwide sales tax, all of which benefited business and drew the praise of investors. The initially disorderly implementation of the new tax system and the ban of high-value currency notes to punish corruption had a deleterious effect on business. However, even there, Indians witnessed the reality of systemic change which they had been promised often but had seen delivered only rarely. Mr Modi captured the public imagination with his dedication to governance that would reward the talent and release the energies of more than a billion people, and give them an international profile commensurate with India's size, population and potential. He made his mark as a transformative leader, one always on the move.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 27, 2019, with the headline 'A fresh mandate for progress in India'. Print Edition | Subscribe