Home >politics >policy >Challenges for Narendra Modi’s new government

New Delhi: Narendra Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party’s landslide win in India’s election is likely to herald some major policy changes after 10 years of Congress rule.

AFP looks at the new government’s main challenges.

How to fire up economic growth?

Modi’s campaign was centred around a pledge to revive the ailing economy, with growth now running at a decade low of 4.7%.

Modi has painted himself as an efficient administrator who has introduced policies that have encouraged development and prosperity in his western state of Gujarat -- policies which could be reproduced nationally.

Modi has pointed to reviving manufacturing, attracting foreign investment, overhauling taxation and rebuilding dilapidated infrastructure as some of his priorities, although he has been vague on details.

Modi has stressed the need to create tens of millions of jobs in a country where over half the population is aged under 25 years. Some 10 million people every year pour into cities and towns to search for work.

The BJP manifesto, released during the campaign, pledges a plethora of initiatives to help create jobs, including building 100 new cities, a high-speed rail network and boosting local defence production.

Modi also faces enormous social challenges, with 400 million Indians still living in desperate poverty and 217 million of the country’s children malnourished, according to the World Bank.

What will Modi do on foreign policy?

Modi was boycotted by the West for years over religious riots that occurred on his watch in his western state of Gujarat in 2002 when he was chief minister.

He was placed on a visa blacklist by the US and European government over the riots that killed more than 1,000 people.

But Europe started lifting their boycotts in late 2012 and the outgoing US ambassador met Modi this year when it became clear that he would win the election.

During the election, Modi said relations between India and the US “should not and cannot be influenced by incidents related to individuals" in a sign of warming relations.

On China, Modi warned Beijing to shed its “expansionist mindset" during a rally in Arunachal Pradesh where the two nations fought a brief war in 1962. Modi warned not to think about “snatching" the territory from India.

His comments reinforced Modi’s reputation as a nationalist who won’t be cowed by India’s giant neighbour after accusations the ruling Congress has been too passive in recent border spats.

But Modi has also been a frequent visitor to China, seeking investment for Gujarat and voicing his admiration for its economic performance.

Modi has said ties with arch-rival Pakistan could not improve unless the country worked hard to stop militants from carrying out attacks on Indian soil.

What is his Hindu nationalist or religious agenda?

The BJP has religious issues at the core of its agenda, from protecting cows, which are considered sacred by Hindus, to the possible construction of a temple to honour the birthplace of the Hindu god Ram.

The temple issue has been explosive in the past, triggering riots in 1992 because the birthplace is a disputed site between Hindus and Muslims.

Critics claim Modi and the BJP are prejudiced against religious minorities, especially India’s 150 million Muslims, and say the new government will favour the Hindu majority at their expense.

Modi is also accused of having failed to stop anti-Muslim riots in his home state of Gujarat in 2002 that killed at least 1,000 people.

Modi has denied any wrong doing and has campaigned throughout the country which is officially secular as a centrist economic reformer.

But the BJP’s manifesto is committed to the party’s religious ideals, which pledges support to end the slaughter of cows, and to repeal special autonomous rights granted to Kashmir, the country’s only Muslim-majority state.

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