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The Modi Decade

From the expansion of India's infrastructure to rapid technological diffusion, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s nine years in office have included plenty of worthy achievements. Unfortunately, they have also featured flawed policies in a wide range of areas.

NEW DELHI – Last week, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government inaugurated a new parliament building in New Delhi. It was supposed to symbolize the vision of a “new India” that Modi and his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) claim they have been realizing during nine years in power. But the building has proved highly controversial, with 20 opposition parties boycotting the inauguration ceremony – the latest manifestation of the seemingly irreparable breakdown in relations between the opposition and the government.

As a member of the opposition, I, too, have strongly criticized the Indian government’s policies, rhetoric, and functioning. But the fact is that Modi reportedly enjoys the highest approval ratings of any world leader. As we approach the beginning of an election year, it is worth considering the sources of this support.

The Modi government can claim some notable accomplishments. The most obvious has been the rapid construction of much-needed infrastructure, including new airports, ports, and highways, enabled by streamlined procedures, quick approvals, and extensive reliance on private contractors. The infrastructure boom has changed the face of many parts of India, and the work continues, with large new investments in modernizing India’s railway network – one of the world’s largest, but among its creakiest.

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