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| Last Updated:20/10/2014

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Soft power, hard choices

The Hindu, 20 October 2014


Substantive policy changes and not speeches alone would determine the success of Narendra Modi’s desire to bolster investment and encourage tourism and manufacturing


Prime Minister Narendra Modi has to move on several fronts simultaneously to fulfil expectations he has generated in various constituencies. Through his foreign trips, especially the high-profile U.S. visit, and his interaction with foreign dignitaries, Mr. Modi has declared economic issues to be the focus of his foreign policy. But substantive policy changes, not speeches alone, would determine the success of his stated desire to bolster investment and encourage tourism and manufacturing.


Mr. Modi’s recent trip to the U.S. was the first time that an Indian Prime Minister pitched India’s case not only at the United Nations or the White House, but also at broader constituencies including the general American public at a concert in New York’s Central Park and the Indian diaspora through a rally in Madison Square Garden. Mr. Modi spoke to CEOs of multinational corporations at breakfast, held several one-on-one meetings with corporate heads, and made a pitch for his ‘Make in India’ idea through an op-ed in The Washington Post. After pitching his case to three constituencies — the Indian-American diaspora, the American business community and his voters back home — Mr. Modi must now deliver. The laundry list of his promises, both explicit and implicit, is not short and might require bureaucratic as well as legislative action. To the Indian American diaspora he promised lifelong visas and a reduction in red tape. For the American corporate sector he has promised procedural reform and enhanced investment incentives. To the Indian voter he made appeals about reviving India’s past glory; he spoke of taking advantage of the demographic dividend, the need to improve sanitation, to provide clean water and to boost local incomes by attracting more tourist dollars. Read more....