Indian Politics and Finance

Euphoria confronts reality: the BJP's cautious first budget

(2 March 2015)  The new government of Narendra Modi announced its much-anticipated first budget last Saturday to initially positive, if muted, reviews.  Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's budget was expected to begin the herculean task of reforming the Indian economy away from its statist and populist orientation towards a more deregulated, pro-growth stance.  The budget was seen as rather cautious and piece-meal, however, as Jaitley did not reduce subsidies nor did he introduce a general sales tax which is widely seen as necessary to fund infrastructure improvements.  Markets rose only modestly on Saturday in reaction to the budget and Monday's session similarly only mildly positive suggesting a lack of enthusiasm and perhaps even a twinge of disappointment.  All of the optimism over the promise of sweeping change from the Modi government now appears to fading as reality takes over.

Perhaps we should not be surprised that PM Narendra Modi has been having a tough go of it lately.   Read more...

Indian budget disappointment: Jaitley takes cautious approach

(13 July 2014)  India's Finance Minister Arun Jaitley delivered a much-anticipated budget last week as the incoming NDA government made its first significant mark on the post-election political landscape.  The budget was met with considerable criticism from many quarters, however, as Jaitley left in place the current tax regime as well as the thorny issue of subsidy rationalization, preferring to defer it to some future date.  Most measures taken were seen as too cautious by most in the business community as many wondered if the ambitious 4.1% deficit target was realistic given the fairly lethargic economy.   Indian stocks declined on the budget news as investors reflected on commitment of the government for serious economic reforms.  Clearly, FM Jaitley and PM Modi are trying to steer a middle path that appeals both to business and the wider population.

This early stumble for the newly minted NDA administration is seen through the current affliction to the horoscope of the swearing-in of PM Narendra Modi.  The swearing-in chart is the "birth" of the government and many subsequent developments on the political scene may be seen through this chart.  The budget disappointment is likely a reflection of the near-conjunction of Rahu and Mars.  Read more...

Narendra Modi sworn-in as India's 15th PM

(28 May 2014) In a much-anticipated celebration, BJP leader Narendra Modi was sworn-in as the 15th Prime Minister of India on Monday.  Modi was swept to power in a landslide as Indians rejected Congress and the Gandhi dynasty in favour of free-market reforms, bureaucratic transparency and deregulation.  Modi now faces the daunting challenge to having to live up to expectations and fulfill the hopes and aspirations of his countrymen. How successful will he be? 

Astrology offers a window on the Modi's incoming BJP administration through the swearing-in horoscope.  The moment that Narendra Modi took the oath marked the symbolic beginning or "birth" to his tenure as PM.  The resulting chart therefore provides clues to not only the nature of his government, but also insights of specific times of triumph and setback.  I would caution, however, that the oath horoscope cannot simply be read as one would read a natal horoscope of person.  In my experience, we have to be more general in our analysis of the oath-taking chart by focusing more on planets and aspects rather  and less on house placements or house rulerships.  By way of comparison, it is useful to look at some documented swearing-in charts of US presidents just to see how these charts work. 

On paper, Ronald Reagan may have the most in common with Modi's promise to move towards free market solutions and away from more a more activist, government-run economy.  Reagan's business-friendly administration represented a sharp break with the previous government of Jimmy Carter.   Read more...

Narendra Modi scores historic victory in Indian election

(18 May 2014)  Narendra Modi scored a landslide victory in India's Lok Sabha election last week as the incumbent Congress Party suffered a devastating defeat.  The win for the pro-business BJP  promises to bring sweeping change to India which has seen its economic progress slowed by endemic corruption, bureaucratic red tape, poor infrastructure, and stubbornly high inflation. But how successful will Mr Modi be in undertaking these massive challenges?

A reliable way to gain insight into the future tenure of a sitting government is to view the horoscope of its swearing-in ceremony.  At this time, however, it is still not yet known when Narendra Modi will be sworn-in as Prime Minister, although current indications suggest it will be May 21st.  I will update my site once the date and time of his swearing-in becomes known.  Alternatively, the other tool we have is Modi's natal chart.  While his birth time remains in dispute, it is still possible to glean some indications of future trends using just his day and year of birth. 

The first year of his administration looks quite mixed with no shortage of obstacles and setbacks.   Read more...

India goes to the polls

(6 April 2014)  Voting in the world's biggest democracy begins tomorrow as India goes to the polls to elect a new government.  The BJP-led NDA alliance is well ahead in recent polls so it is seems likely that Narendra Modi will be the next Prime Minister after the final results are announced on May 16th.  There is still some doubt if the NDA will have the required 272 seats for a majority in the Lok Sabha or if other parties will have to be coaxed into joining any BJP government.

As I noted in this space last week, the astrological influences are broadly favourable to a Modi and BJP victory.  Of course, without clearly established birth times for either Modi or Congress candidate Rahul Gandhi it is more difficult to make a categorical prediction of the outcome.  Various birth times have been suggested for both candidates, but thus far none has emerged as definitive or accurate.  For this reason, we need to use whatever auxiliary means to provide supporting evidence for forecasting the outcome. 

The chart of India may be useful in this respect.  Read more...

Narendra Modi to be next Indian PM?

(30 March 2014)  If recent media polls are any indication, it looks like the BJP's Narendra Modi will be the next Prime Minister of India.  Modi has enjoyed a large double digit lead over Congress rival Rahul Gandhi for several months and with voting to begin on 7 April, it seems quite likely that the BJP will oust the Congress Party in the Lok Sahba elections.  The elections take place over a five-week period with the announcement of the final results due on 16 May.  The Indian stock market rallied strongly on the expectation of a BJP win as investors anticipate more pro-business policies from a Modi-led government.

While we do not know Modi's time of birth, we can cast his Chandra Lagna chart from his date of birth, 17 September 1950.  When the Ascendant is unknown, the Moon can be used as a substitute Ascendant to approximate the 1st house in a chart.  The Moon is in Scorpio with Mars suggesting a capable and assertive character who can act decisively.  He was born was a very strong stellium of planets in close conjunction in sidereal Virgo: Saturn, Sun, Mercury and Ketu (south lunar node).  Read more...

India's financial crisis: Mars and Saturn wreak havoc

(25 August 2013) Raghuram Rajan must be wondering what he has gotten himself into. The incoming head of the Reserve Bank of India assumes office on 4 September just as the country grapples with a deepening financial crisis. Inflation is on the rise and threatening again to break into double digit territory while the Rupee last week hit an all-time low of 65 to the Dollar. The current account deficit shows no sign of improvement and economic growth has contracted from 8-9% in previous years to a more modest 4-5%.

The crisis was sparked by a sudden outflow of foreign money after the US Federal Reserve indicated it would begin to taper its quantitative easing policy. The end to the Fed's bond buying program has caused bond yields to spike higher as investors realized Uncle Sam (or rather Ben!) would no longer be a reliable buyer of its own debt. As investors follow yield wherever they can find it, rising interest rates in the US made India markets much less attractive. Hence, we have witnessed a rush to the exits from many emerging markets like India over the past two months.

From an astrological perspective, India's current troubles do not come as a surprise. As I noted in July, India was likely to experience difficult economic conditions during this time and indeed for much of 2014 also.   Read more...

The broken BRICS and India's uncertain future

(28 July 2013)  Are the BRICs really broken?  There has been a lot of talk recently about declining growth in emerging markets especially in four largest countries collectively known as the BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China).  A recent article by Ruchir Sharma of Morgan Stanley has suggested that the BRICs time in the spotlight may now be over after shining so brightly in the 2000s. China's double digit annual growth is now a thing of the past, and Brazil is seeing widespread social unrest against a backdrop of rising inflation and economic stagnation.  Russia is riddled with corruption and remains an undiversified oil-based economy.  Like its fellow BRIC brethren, India has seen its growth rates moderate from 9 percent down to 6 percent this year as struggles with inflation and inadequate infrastructure are formidable obstacles to sustainable economic growth. 

What does the future hold for India?  Are its recent setbacks merely very normal growing pains as an economy undergoes a process of maturation?  Or is the current phase of sluggish growth a warning signal of more significant problems to come as development is blocked by poor infrastructure and a political system that is ill-equipped to deal with long-term challenges?  Read more...