Modi’s Reform Momentum Has Finally Hit a Wall in India

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Meanwhile, reforms to improve capital allocation in the economy are a mixed bag. Despite opposition from bank employees’ unions, a bill — to be introduced in the upcoming winter session of parliament — will pave the way for privatizing two state-run lenders. Investors will pay attention to the fate of this law. They should also closely watch the government’s 6 trillion rupees ($80 billion) asset recycling plan. This, too, could potentially become a political minefield. For instance, while New Delhi has aggressive plans to privatize the management of train stations, the extra money people may have to shell out for improved railway services could become a sensitive issue, especially with less affluent voters who may soon also have to bear the burden of higher consumption taxes. If business groups that are seen to be close to the Modi government charge those additional user fees, opposition parties will get fresh ammunition to attack the prime minister.The closer India gets to the 2024 general elections, the more the government will want to step out of the shadow of big business, and the more his opponents will try to keep it there. In the process, significant chunks of Modi’s economic agenda could get delayed or scrapped. The reversal of farm laws and a possible stalling of the new labor codes could be the beginning of two years of inertia. 

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