A standoff with nuclear rival Pakistan appears to have given Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, head of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, a boost ahead of national elections set to begin in April. After a suicide bombing killed 40 soldiers in Indian controlled Kashmir, India’s air force launched a strike on an alleged terrorist training camp inside Pakistan. Although India has refused to produce evidence of the damage it says was caused by the strike, BJP and Modi supporters immediately branded it a decisive victory.
The crisis managed to turn attention away from Modi’s economic record. Modi swept 2014 elections promising to reform India’s economy, but his signature demonetization policy, intended to reduce money laundering, choke terrorist financing and boost digital payments, has been largely deemed a failure. And a small scandal erupted earlier this year when a respected financial newspaper reported that the government was suppressing jobs data that showed India’s unemployment rate at its highest level in 45 years. (KUNA)