Date
27 March 2017
India’s economic modernization drive remains very much a work in progress. Photo: Reuters
India’s economic modernization drive remains very much a work in progress. Photo: Reuters

25 years after India began reforms, progress remains slow

Twenty-five years after India began the process of economic liberalization, reforms in the country have failed to gather enough momentum, with several key issues yet to be addressed. 

The present government, led by Narendra Modi, hasn’t managed to shake off the sluggish pace of economic modernization, despite making some encouraging noises, the Wall Street Journal noted.

Reverses suffered at the ballot box by previous administrations that sought to take up issues such as subsidies, labor reforms and privatization of public sector firms have made politicians generally wary.

There is a feeling that the only way to liberalize is to do it gradually.

In 1991, the government led by P.V. Narasimha Rao began opening up the economy as it faced the prospect of a default on its sovereign obligations.

But it encountered tough opposition and made compromises as lawmakers opposed cuts to fuel and fertilizer subsidies.

Despite the compromises, the government still faced electoral setbacks, prompting subsequent governments to go slow. 

That resulted in decades of languorous growth and India not living up to its real potential.

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