To economic policy makers in the rest of the world, the annual presentation of India’s federal budget must be a mystifying exercise. It’s less a statement of accounts than a state of the union address, laying out government priorities for the year ahead. Media coverage is carnivalesque: This year, for some reason, one prominent channel sat its anchors and experts at a news desk suspended from a crane 20 stories high.
What must be even more confounding is how Indian leaders appear able to get away with budget math other politicians cannot, whether economically or politically. That says something important about the moment India is in right now — and raises questions about whether its leaders are making the right