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James Crabtree: “India looks to Modi for economic revival”

James Crabtree, Mumbai Bureau Chief of The Financial Times, warns that now comes the hard part, as a landslide win puts pressure on Modi as Indians seek economic revival.

With Modi on course to win around 336 seats in the Lok Sabha, India’s parliament, and now “unencumbered by the limitations of coalition government, India now has a rare opportunity to shed its status as the laggard of major developing economies.”

James noted that progress will be awaited with particular interest among India’s heavily indebted industrial conglomerates, many of whom contributed generously to Mr Modi’s election, and will want something in return.

He goes on to argue that Modi will want to amend India’s reputation abroad too, as “anxious foreign investors want reassurances… notably on tax policy, where a spate of global businesses have become entangled in rows with revenue officials.”

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“Never trust an Indian exit poll” warns James Crabtree

James Crabtree, Mumbai Bureau Chief of the Financial Times, recently reported on reliability of the election exit polls, after they appeared to suggest that Narendra Modi seems set to become India’s next prime minister.

James notes that the exit polls chime broadly with evidence from pre-election opinion surveys, arguing that “the charismatic Mr Modi has dominated the campaign from the start with his promises of an economic revival and his mockery of Congress leaders such as Rahul Gandhi.”

However, he goes on to warn that “analysts also cautioned that India’s exit polls needed to be treated with caution following notoriously inaccurate predictions before the last two national elections in 2004 and 2009.”

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James Crabtree on India’s new politics

James Crabtree, Mumbai Bureau Chief of the Financial Times, recently wrote the cover story for the Financial Times’ magazine discussing India’s new politics, particularly focusing on why some of India’s business stars are taking on the traditional elite, as the world’s largest democracy goes to the polls.

Profiling candidates such as Nandan Nilekani, one of India’s most celebrated technology entrepreneurs, James describes how a wave of executives are entering India politics. James notes how “their decision to stand is a sign of wider change brewing: the new class of MBA-wielding professionals who rose to dominate India’s boardrooms now wants to exercise power of a different sort.”

He adds that “this new generation of aspiring politicians reflects a more profound underlying development, one in which India’s growing middle classes are demanding more from a political system that, at best, has tended to reflect the interests of the rural poor and, at worst, served only the whims of those already in power.”

James goes on to analyse the degree of influence of dynasticism in India’s new politics, and whether it might be on the way out. Click here to read the story.

James Crabtree: “India’s BJP woos investors”

Election day #1 passed mostly without incident yesterday in India, though it is going to be a long process. James Crabtree,  Mumbai Bureau Chief of the Financial Times, has written a general polling overview, focussing on the launch of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) election manifesto in New Delhi yesterday.

James notes that the leader of the BJP, Narendra Modi, promised to revive Indian growth and boost foreign investment, creating the impression of being more business-friendly than the left-leaning Congress. Backed by big Indian and foreign investors, the prospect of a Modi victory has sent shares to record highs and strengthened the rupee.

Key elements of the BJP’s manifesto includes the commitment to protect the interest of small and medium retailers, promising to invest in power and transport infrastructure and the development of manufacturing, and review the country’s “outdated, complicated and even contradictory” labour laws.

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James Crabtree on how Indian business looks to Modi to spark capex revival

In his most recent posting, James Crabtree, Mumbai Bureau Chief of The Financial Times, looks at the likelihood of a post-election economic upturn in India.

James shows that the business consensus overwhelmingly believes that opposition leader Narendra Modi is set to triumph in May’s voting, a view which has more to do with the unpalatable nature of the alternatives for Indian growth than a thorough analysis of his odds of victory. Nonetheless, as James points out, there are plenty of assumptions being made about how quickly a victory for Mr Modi is likely to filter through into higher investment, which seem at least questionable.

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