India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi completed his first 100 in office on 4 September 2014. He came into power at the back of one of the most momentous elections in India in May 2014. His landslide victory was the most resounding election victory India had seen in 30 years.

On 12 September 2014, three eminent panelists from the academia, media and private sector shared their perspectives on the key recent positive and negative socio-economic developments in India. The event, titled “India’s Socio-Economy: What’s Up? What’s Down?”, was hosted by Singapore Management University (SMU) and supported by YSA, Institute of South Asian Studies and Confederation of Indian Industry.

During his welcome address, Professor Rajendra Srivastava, Provost and Deputy President, SMU, indicated that there are people who are not pleased with recent developments in India. He stated, “Prime Minister Modi’s admirers seemed to be dismayed with his government’s performance thus far. Among others, he promised new roads, factories, high-speed trains, power lines and even 100 new cities. So far, there has been little movement on any of these gigantic tasks. Similarly, there have been no signs of the promised change at institutions sapped by graft and over-regulation that many Indians have grown to revile. He also refrained from cutting food aid, which cost an estimated one percent of gross domestic product, or tackling costly welfare programmes.” However, there are others who feel that the Modi government has a five-year term to achieve its goal of transforming India into an economic power. As such, it must be given the time to do what it has promised to do.

During the panel session, the speakers, Mr Vikram Khanna, Associate Editor, The Business Times, Associate Professor Rahul Mukherji, Head of Research and Honorary Senior Fellow, ISAS, and Dr T Chandroo, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Modern Montessori International Pte Ltd, shared their views on a range of issues on India. These included the evolution of India’s socio-economic landscape, key initiatives under the Modi government, value of education, need for Mr Modi to further engage the media, foreign policy imperatives and relationship with Pakistan. This was followed by a lively and engaging session with the participants.

Launching the publication on “India’s Socio-Economy: What’s Up! What’s Down!”, Guest-of-Honour HE Mrs Vijay Thakur Singh, India’s High Commissioner to Singapore, called upon people from all professions to come forward to invest in various sectors and explore business opportunities in India. She stated that, “To the question of what’s up? what’s down?, my answer is that everything is up.” From smart cities to industrial corridors to river cleaning and expansion in education sector, the message is loud and clear, India is full of opportunities. She laid special stress on the fact that 2014 marks the golden jubilee of the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Singapore, an occasion to boost bilateral social, economic, cultural and trade ties. There is a renewed interest from foreign investors backed by the commitment of the more than 25 million strong Indian diaspora spread worldwide, Mrs Singh said.

Edited by Mr Gurdip Singh and Mr Sameer C Mohindru, the book is a compilation of essays by some of the leading minds in the world of academics and business who have followed the India story closely through various trials and tribulations for decades.

More than 100 participants from the public and private sectors in Singapore attend the event which was followed by a networking tea reception.

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