Did Modi fulfil his economic promises? | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 08, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, April 08, 2019

Did Modi fulfil his economic promises?

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi swept to power five years ago on a business-friendly manifesto that promised to shake up Asia's third-largest economy and boost employment.

As Modi, 68, seeks a second term in India's almost six-week mega-election beginning on Thursday, AFP looks at how he has delivered on his main economic pledges.

Young people voted for Modi in droves in 2014 after he said he would create 10 million jobs a year.

Many, however, have been left disappointed -- and jobless.

A newspaper recently published what it called an official report buried by Modi's government showing unemployment at its highest since the 1970s.

Last year a staggering 19 million people applied for 63,000 positions at Indian Railways.

The opposition has used unemployment as one of its main lines of attack in the campaign, with Congress chief Rahul Gandhi attacking Modi for creating a "national disaster".

Analysts say that the economy has failed to expand at the rate required to employ the one million Indians who enter the workforce every month.

In 2014, Modi projected himself as an anti-corruption crusader who would eradicate graft and so-called "black money".

While Modi has been widely credited with ending a culture of crony capitalism throughout government his overall record on corruption is mixed.

He has been lauded for toughening anti-corruption laws, including one outlawing "benami" property, where owners purchase real estate through third parties to hide money.

India has risen three places to 78th in Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index under his watch, five places behind South Africa but nine ahead of China.

However, Modi's first term will perhaps most be remembered for a shock cash ban that rendered 86 percent of the high-currency bank notes void overnight and hit growth.

Modi said "demonetisation" would root out illegal money but almost all notes returned to the banking system, while the move caused untold suffering to millions of poor who operate outside of India's formal economy.

Modi promised to boost foreign investment by making it easier for companies abroad to do business in India.

To a large extent he has succeeded. The government has relaxed stringent foreign direct investment rules in many sectors including in infrastructure, aviation and single-brand retail.

Foreign capital inflows into India have increased as a result. FDI in India rose to nearly $62 billion for 2017-18 and the government hopes it can register $100 billion annually within two years.

One of the most high-profile investments was US retail giant Walmart's purchase of a 77-percent stake in Indian e-commerce behemoth Flipkart last year for $16 billion.

Investors have expressed concern about recent protectionist measures in e-commerce though. The government announced surprise restrictions in December that would limit how companies like Amazon and Walmart could operate.

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