Indian media: Modi's '100-day challenge'

Can India's new PM deliver on his promise to provide good governance? Image copyright AFP
Image caption Can India's new PM deliver on his promise to provide good governance?

A decision by India's new PM Narendra Modi to ask his ministers to set their tasks for the first 100 days in office is the top story in the country's media.

Many newspapers approve that the members of the cabinet have been instructed to focus on good governance, effective public services and speedy implementation of state programmes.

Some, however, wonder if the new administration has not set its aim too high.

Mr Modi has listed 10 priorities as a guide to his team. These include ensuring greater transparency, boosting infrastructure and investment and putting the emphasis on education, health, water, energy and roads.

"The Times of India endorses PM Narendra Modi's priorities", the paper says in a front-page commentary, adding that "converting vision into practice won't be easy, but the first few days of this government give us hope".

In another article, the same daily advises that "confidence will soar" if the government adopts a liberal policy on foreign direct investment and implements the single unified goods and services tax, known as GST. According to the paper, this would make the country more attractive to investors and "weave India into a seamless market".

"The government must create a more welcoming climate for small businesses," argues Gulzar Natarajan in The Indian Express. He points out that one of the biggest challenges for the new administration "is to reverse the declining trend in private investments".

The Business Standard also has advice for Mr Modi's team.

"Time to start selling", the financial daily says in a headline. "The market expansion over the past month has revived all the retail interest that had been missing for years. Thus, it is a propitious moment to revive the privatisation project. And disinvestment of government shares in PSUs [public sector undertakings] will be a good start," says the daily.

The Hindustan Times, however, thinks that Mr Modi's 10 priorities "appeared lacking in detail as to what the government would grasp first given the scale of the country's economic problems, including high prices, poor public finances and a waning of interest among investors".

The daily warns that "expectations from Modi remain sky high" and that his government "must deliver fast on creating jobs and building infrastructure".

'Setting sights on China'

The press is also highlighting the possibility of a "robust partnership" between Delhi and Beijing after Chinese Premier Li Keqiang called to congratulate his new Indian counterpart Narendra Modi.

Premier Li spoke with Mr Modi on Thursday and expressed his government's desire to develop active ties with India. Papers underline the fact that he is the first foreign leader to phone Mr Modi after he assumed office.

"Diplomacy drive continues, PM sets his sights on China", says the Hindustan Times.

"The China outreach is a continuation of Modi's brand of fast-track diplomacy, which started with the Saarc country heads - including Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif - attending his swearing-in ceremony on Monday", the paper comments.

"China PM Li Keqiang rings Narendra Modi with offer of 'robust partnership''", reads a big bold headline in The Indian Express.

Wedding tax

And finally, the government in the southern state of Karnataka is mulling imposing taxes on extravagant wedding ceremonies, the Deccan Chronicle reports.

Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister TB Jayachandra says people spending over 500,000 rupees ($8,483; £5,069) in marriage functions or families with a guest list of over 1,000 people may be taxed, the paper writes.

The money collected through the taxes would be used to organise marriages for the poor and inter-caste marriages.

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