Bollywood uses Mumbai’s crippling traffic congestion to its advantage. Massive billboards promote the latest offerings from its entertainment factories. Constantly stuck in traffic, millions of potential ticket buyers have little choice but to stare.
Competing for eyeballs in recent weeks is an upcoming blockbuster of a different sort: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first full budget. The anticipation is such that the cable news channels have gone Bollywood in promoting their coverage. “THE COMMON MAN IS HOPING FOR AN UNCOMMON BUDGET,” NDTV declares on one billboard. So too is Davos Man. Indian officials were the toast of this year’s gathering of the international rich and powerful in the Swiss Alps. “WILL THE WORLD TAKE NOTE OR SIMPLY WATCH,” Bloomberg Television asks on its billboard, foregoing a question mark.
The budget is important because much of India’s current economic momentum is based on hope, not reality. Anticipation of what Mr. Modi will do with the historic mandate he won in May has made India’s stock market among the hottest in the world. Confidence is driving consumption. If hope dwindles, India will struggle.
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