We have made it so easy to invest in India, manufacture in India, and work in India. We have decided to uproot licence and permit Raj. We are replacing red tape with red carpet. —Narendra Modi, World Economic Forum, Davos
In Davos the Prime Minister is trying to project India as “open for business” and in India his chief ministers cannot prevent goons from vandalizing cinemas just because they don’t like a movie. The rule of law for investment. Right? —Journalist Tavleen Singh, Twitter, January 23, 2018
On January 28, 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the world’s billionaires, the celebrated captains of industry, and world leaders assembled at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos. The address was a highly anticipated event—it was the first time in twenty years that an Indian prime minister was present in Davos. He had already been billed as a bold leader who did not hesitate to undertake tough measures to fully open up the Indian economy. The frequent reference was to two major economic interventions he had initiated— demonetization of high currency notes and the implementation of the goods-and-services tax—to transform India into a single unified market. While policy experts were still questioning the economic benefit of these reforms, his supporters held these measures up as examples of his strongman appeal and popularity among the people. Smitten with his well-crafted, market-friendly image and the promise of acche din (good times), a section of the Indian media had even begun describing him as the “smartest salesman India has had in a long while,”. the “best salesman India has ever had,” or simply “salesman-in-chief” of the Indian nation.. This famous sales pitch is precisely what Modi rehearsed in his Davos speech. He invited the world to come and invest in India, and he promised to replace “red tape with red carpet” to nudge and entice those who were still hesitant.
His speech, however, was largely drowned out in the cacophony of foreign and Indian media. The news item that had grabbed headlines and the attention of TV anchors instead was that of violent protests raging in northern India. The supporters of a little-known Rajput Hindu group, Karni Sena, were protesting against a Bollywood film due to be released on January 25 in cinema halls across India.