GZERO Media logo

A Setback For Modi

A Setback For Modi

Over the past four years, and despite a famously long list of chronic problems, India has emerged as a standout among emerging-market powers. As China's growth slows, Russia wrestles with sanctions and lower oil prices, and Brazil struggles to overcome recession and scandal, India has powered forward.


Since he became prime minister in 2014, Narendra Modi has cut through a famously immovable bureaucracy to help hundreds of millions of the world's poorest, most isolated people gain access to essential services, invested large sums in much-needed upgrades to India's notoriously rickety infrastructure, drawn foreign investment into once-gated sectors of the economy, and made it easier for Indians and foreigners to do business.

But Modi's hold on Indian politics, which has enabled him to implement many of these positive changes, may be starting to slip. In a series of recent state-level elections, his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) suffered big losses in the "Hindu-heartland" regions thought to be key centers of its electoral support. The verdict comes as a big hit for Modi and his party as he seeks to win re-election next year, and it raises the further question of whether India can continue to upstage its peers.

Two stories from this week reflect the tough challenges ahead:

  • Independent institutions: On Monday, the leader of India's central bank (RBI) abruptly resigned following a fight with the government over its independence from political influence. The government then quickly named a career bureaucrat as his replacement. Ahead of national elections next April or May, the government wants the RBI to pump more money into the economy—by making it easier for banks to offer bigger loans, for example. While growth may go up, investor confidence in responsible management of India's economy will now go down.

  • Mounting environmental problems: A report from The Financial Times reveals that India has become "the most polluted country on Earth." According to the FT, India's air quality is "far worse than China's ever was" as "more than 40 percent of Indians are exposed to five times the safe limit of particulate matter in the air they breathe." This is exactly the sort of problem that requires strong central leadership to force local authorities to abide by stricter rules for the good of all.

Modi is still very popular, but there's a risk that a disappointing election performance next year will leave him in charge of a BJP-led government that depends on an unwieldy coalition of small regional parties. If so, it'll become much harder for him to take actions that impose politically risky costs. In the meantime, Modi may find himself more reliant on support from Hindu extremists.

Given India's growing importance, for Asia and the global economy, these are stories worth watching.

Carbon has a bad rep, but did you know it's a building block of life? As atoms evolved, carbon trapped in CO2 was freed, giving way to the creation of complex molecules that use photosynthesis to convert carbon to food. Soon after, plants, herbivores, and carnivores began populating the earth and the cycle of life began.

Learn more about how carbon created life on Earth in the second episode of Eni's Story of CO2 series.

As we enter the homestretch of the US presidential election — which is set to be the most contentious, and possibly contested, in generations — Americans are also voting on 35 seats up for grabs in a battle for the control of the Senate. The 100-member body is currently held 53-47 by the Republican Party, but many individual races are wide open, and the Democrats are confident they can flip the upper chamber of Congress.

Either way, the result will have a profound impact not only on domestic policy, but also on US foreign relations and other issues with global reach. Here are a few areas where what US senators decide reverberates well beyond American shores.

More Show less

On September 23, GZERO Media — in partnership with Microsoft and Eurasia Group — gathered global experts to discuss global recovery from the coronavirus pandemic in a livestream panel. Our panel for the discussion Crisis Response & Recovery: Reimagining while Rebuilding, included:

  • Brad Smith, President, Microsoft
  • Ian Bremmer, President and Founder, Eurasia Group & GZERO Media
  • Jeh Johnson, Partner, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP and former Secretary of Homeland Security.
  • John Frank, Vice President, UN Affairs at Microsoft
  • Susan Glasser, staff writer and Washington columnist, The New Yorker (moderator)

Special appearances by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde, and comedian/host Trevor Noah.

More Show less

Jon Lieber, who leads Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, offers insights on the Supreme Court vacancy:

Will Senate Republicans, who stopped a Supreme Court nomination in 2016, because it was too close to an election, pay a political price for the change in tactics this time around?

Not only do I think they won't pay a political price, I think in many cases, they're going to benefit. Changing the balance of power on the Supreme Court has been a career-long quest for many conservatives and many Republicans. And that's why you've seen so many of them fall in line behind the President's nomination before we even know who it is.

At this point, do Senate Democrats have any hope of stopping President Trump from filling the ninth seat on the Supreme Court?

More Show less

In a special GZERO Media livestream on global response and recovery amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Eurasia Group & GZERO Media president Ian Bremmer discussed the difference between Europe's unified approach to economic stimulus and the deeply divided and political nature of the current conversation in the US. While initial stimulus support was bipartisan, there is little chance of Democrats and Republicans coming together again ahead of the November 3 presidential election. "It's red state versus blue state. President Trump's saying that coronavirus isn't so bad if you take the blue states out. He's president of the blue states, you can't take the blue states out," Bremmer told moderator Susan Glasser of The New Yorker.

UNGA banner

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's Newsletter: Signal

Panel: How will the world recover from COVID-19?

UNGA Livestream