Modi’s Strongman Economics

Mr. Modi once admitted that he is “not a big economist.” Yet he promptly set out an economic vision for India to be a global manufacturing power. Investors should rush to “make in India,”

.. He claimed that his strong leadership would usher in economic revival and 100 million new manufacturing jobs by 2022.

.. He jeered that Mr. Singh — who has a doctorate in economics from Oxford University and was the architect of the liberalization of the Indian economy in the early 1990s — could not stop onion prices rising and that economic growth was jobless, both popular concerns.

.. under Mr. Modi the job-creation rate has fallen, in effect, to zero.

.. In public, some business leaders have gushed that the “almighty” sent Mr. Modi, blessing his “wisdom.” That encourages Mr. Modi to think his personal role is immensely important. He recalls his 13 years running Gujarat, the western Indian state, where he corralled investors, offering land and attractive terms to set up factories. He is tempted to think a country of 1.3 billion might be run in the same way.

.. Mr. Modi’s approach could be called “strongman economics” — the idea that a dominant leader’s sweeping promise is more powerful than deep-set, complicated, economic problems

.. Mr. Modi remains popular, partly because India’s opposition is hopeless and because many Indians like his bombast. Nationalists talk of their country — which will soon be more populous than China — as an emerging superpower.

.. It is still hard, without political help, to buy land to build a factory. And in too many sectors — such as makers of steel, fighter jets and even sex toys — state-owned firms crowd out private ones. Mr. Modi has not done much to fix such problems, beyond telling state governments to try.

.. Who wants to invest if arbitrary political decisions can threaten whole industries?