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Modi’s Mandate

Narendra Modi of the conservative Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won India's general election because most Indians believe that he can deliver more rapid growth. To do so, his government will have to foster, in a different political context, two key ingredients of China’s economic success.

WASHINGTON, DC – In an impressive exercise in democracy, 550 million eligible voters participated in India’s 16th general election. The new prime minister will be Narendra Modi of the conservative Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), who presided over rapid economic growth in his 13 years as Chief Minister of the state of Gujarat, on India’s northwest coast. Modi won because most Indians believe that he can deliver more rapid growth in the country as a whole.

The election once again demonstrated how different in political terms India is from its giant neighbor, autocratic China. Now, however, the new government must try to match the superior economic progress that China has achieved over the last three decades. To do so, it will have to foster, in a different political context, two key ingredients of China’s economic success.

The first ingredient is a robust industrial sector composed of manufacturing industries that use unskilled labor, which would offer a route out of poverty for India’s hundreds of millions of rural laborers and their families. It is the route that China, and other countries before it, has taken. In India, by contrast, the underdevelopment of the industrial sector has kept the country from realizing its full economic potential.

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