Have you ever seen Samuel Beckett’s play “Waiting for Godot”? It is not exactly an action-filled adventure. In fact, quite the opposite: it is a tragicomedy in which two characters do nothing but… wait. “Godot” – who is made out to be some kind of saviour – never comes (sorry for the spoiler).
I sometimes feel the same about Modi’s India. He came to power one year ago, with an exceptionally strong mandate to deliver economic change to the country. Since then, he has made many tall claims about what he will do and held many good speeches which usually touched upon all the right pressure points. He captured the imagination of India’s vast, upwardly mobile population and of international investors. He got them all to listen in rapt attention. And then… (nothing)
The funny thing is that much like in the play, there is an emotional mobilization – you can call it hope – amongst the Indian and international business community, that has taken on a life of its own. It turns into a mantra that sounds increasingly like desperation: Modi must deliver change to India. India must grow. We really want to believe that. (And everything else would be a terrible tragedy!)
But there is no denying the fact that we are running out of optimism. Today everyone is still playing along. No-one wants to spoil the party. Yet, the optimism sounds increasingly hollow and there is a creeping sense that the past might repeat itself: insider business without real reform.
Dear Mr. Modi, please get started – convert the coin of optimism into real change, before it is lost.