FT's foreign affairs editor has a different view- he thinks Modi deserves a chance. Here's why:
His rise would send an invigorating message across a country where too many people’s chances are still blighted by poverty, class or caste. That anti-dynastic message deserves to resonate well beyond India. The upper echelon of China’s government is still dominated by “princelings” – men such as President Xi Jinping who are descended from Mao Zedong’s close comrades. The US could well witness another presidential election contested between the Bush and Clinton clans. South Korea and Japan are led by the daughter and the grandson of former heads of government. Politics is also strongly dynastic in India’s neighbours Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Myanmar. It would be a welcome change for India to elect a self-made man.......The ruling Indian National Congress has reason to be proud of the liberal economic reforms that it unleashed in the 1990s. But the party has now lapsed back into the rhetoric of redistribution and big government. By contrast, Mr Modi emphasises economic policies that are focused on encouraging growth, helping business and reducing the size of government. This kind of liberal agenda is no longer so fashionable in the west. But it has been crowned with economic and political success in Gujarat.
As readers of this blog would know, I am a little sceptical about the view that Mr Modi stands for Thatcherite reforms, which means small government and leaving things to the market. He will, of course, be business-friendly. But that does mean rolling back the state. If his record in Gujarat is anything to go by, the Modi approach is to combine pro-growth policies with effective state institutions. Gujarat's leading PSUs have effected a turnaround under Modi. The erstwhile Gujarat Electricity Board is an astonishing story of recovery. Public distribution in Gujarat is reasonably effective. So are public hospitals- Gujarat has a first-rate public kidney hospital in Nadiad and a cardiology hospital in Ahmedabad.
My own view is that Mr Modi will bring his administrative skills to bear on strengthening public enterprises and institutions. I also reckon that he will not roll back the present welfare schemes, although he may refrain from expanding them. India's polity is such that it forces people who want to rule at the centre towards the centrist position when it comes to political ideology; likewise, the basic economic ideology will have to be slightly left-of-centre if it is gain acceptance in a still poor country riven with inequalities.