As Prime Minister Narendra Modi completes one year in office, his cuts in federal welfare spending on the poorest of India’s 1.25 billion people are coming in for sharp criticism, including from within his cabinet.
In a break with India’s socialist past, Modi has saved money on federal social and subsidy expenditure and pumped it into an infrastructure stimulus he hopes will trigger a spurt in economic growth.
The government says lower welfare spending will be compensated for by giving state governments a larger allocation of tax revenues to spend as they choose. But state chiefs, government officials and a cabinet minister have warned that the spending shakeup endangers the country’s most vulnerable.
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