India’s Prime Minister Modi should spend less time abroad telling foreigners how well India is doing and more time at home asking people how they feel about his administration, the popular Forbes magazine wrote.
While quoting a research by Gallup, Forbes wrote, Indians think they are worse off than they were three years ago. The study found a big decline in the percentage of Indians who rate their lives positively enough to rate it as “thriving” since Modi assumed office.
“The survey findings provide a different picture from that which one gets when looking at India’s financial markets. In fact, they have been soaring, up close to 50% in the last two years,” Forbes wrote. Nonetheless, only 3% of Indians consider themselves thriving in 2017 compared to 14% in 2014.
“India’s largely rural population initially led the decline in life evaluations, with thriving dropping from 14% to 7% between 2014 and 2015, and edging even lower to 4% and 3% in the years after that,” according to Gallup. “Declines among urban Indians have been much more gradual, although they are down in the past year, dropping from 11% to 4%.”
These findings may come as a surprise to some. Modi has maintained a stable political and macroeconomic environment, reformed the tax system, and fought corruption with demonetization. These policies have helped India’s economy outperform most emerging markets in per capita GDP growth, and improved the country’s business environment, as inflation has dropped.
That’s how India became the world’s fourth-fastest-growing economy in the world in 2017, according to the World Bank’s latest edition of Global Economic Prospects.
Meanwhile, international agencies have lifted India up in a number of global rankings. Like World Bank’s 2017 ranking of “ease of doing business,” where India climbed from the 130th position last year to the 100th position this year.
Still, Modi’s policies have yet to touch the masses. Living Wage Family in India remains almost flat in the 17300-17400 INR/Month range over his tenure. Meanwhile, wages paid to low-skilled labor decreased to 10300 INR/Month in 2017 from 13300 INR/Month in 2014.
Forbes also pointed to persistence of corruption, the rise of nonperforming loans in state-owned banks, high taxation, poor public health, and chronic income inequality which continues to be on the rise. “All these could explain the misalignment between the high hopes of the Indian people for their economy and what they are personally experiencing,” Forbes wrote.
“The people had high expectations, and those expectations have not been satisfied. GDP growth is still above 5 percent, but it has slowed down sharply from past rates of 8 and 9 percent,” says Udayan Roy, an Economics Professor at LIU POST.
“And even the above-5 percent GDP growth is not creating jobs fast enough,” he continues. “There’s this phenomenon of ‘jobless growth.’ India is demographically quite a young nation. And the young people are entering the labor force at too fast a rate compared to job creation. So, these young people are getting frustrated.”
After all, as the Gallup survey concludes, “when people see their lives headed in the wrong direction, they want change.” That should be of great concern to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.