Prime Minister Narendra Modi is often accused of focusing on optics rather than on substance, but it is wrong to single him out, for he is not the only politician who equates statecraft with perception and event management; everybody else does that too. Only Modi does it with consummate skill and to terrific effect. The Tamil Nadu government’s decision to shut down the Sterlite copper plant and the Delhi state government’s desire to cap private hospitals’ profit margins underline the political class’ proclivity to present governance as a series of spectacular, populist announcements. The casualty is the image of India as an investment destination.
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