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With India's economy stumbling, it's time for Modi to have a rethink

Slowing growth, tax reform complications could force prime minister's hands

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi   © Reuters

The garment makers of New Delhi, the carpet weavers of Varanasi, the village barbers in Haryana and other enterprises at the bottom of India's business food chain are in trouble. Providers of space and power are demanding that their bills be paid. Yet these vulnerable enterprises have little cash coming in. Customer orders have dried up; there is virtually no demand. Every month more of them go under.

It has been nearly a year since India launched a bold experiment with demonetization, voiding 86% of all bank notes. What was initially hailed as a bold effort to wring black money out of the economy has come to be widely considered a disaster, both in conception and execution. As if that failed experiment was not enough to deal a near-fatal blow to the weakest businesses and households, the introduction of a new goods and services tax has added to their difficulties.

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