Painful scenes of the Indian government’s mishandling of the Covid-19 pandemic, with 25-million infections and about 280,000 deaths and rising, have cloaked the prepandemic slowing of the economy and the more recent halting of the governing Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) electoral juggernaut.

In May 2021 the IMF revised its earlier optimistic forecasts, saying the Indian economy was expected to grow 6.9% in 2022, having previously contracted by a record 8%. This translates to real pain and suffering: Pew research institute figures show that in January 2020 about 4.3% of Indians were earning less than $2 a day, but by the beginning of 2021 this had risen to 9.7%, or 134-million people.