Bloomberg Businessweek

India Is Running Out of Time

The world’s largest democracy faces huge pressures from its expectant but underserved youth
Queuing to vote in the Sirohi district, Rajasthan state, on April 29

Tough elections are ugly and get uglier the longer they drag on. In India, so massive that the voting process has taken nearly six weeks, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has dispensed with the relative subtlety of dog whistles. It launched into polls last month blasting Modi’s political rivals as sympathizers of archrival Pakistan and vowing to boot supposed Muslim “infiltrators” out of the country. It continues to mock opposition leader Rahul Gandhi for standing in two constituencies—in one of which, it’s darkly noted, Hindus are a minority. One BJP candidate has been charged in a terror attack that killed six Muslims.

Some Modi defenders will dismiss all this as political theater. They say reforms instituted by his government have benefited Indians regardless of creed: programs to build toilets, open bank accounts, and provide cooking-gas cylinders for the poor. They argue that Modi presents the best chance India has of reaching Chinese-style growth rates, which could lift tens of millions out

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