The true test of political leadership is if you can get the people to make short term sacrifice for long term gain, and Modi seems to have managed to do it. His grand moves of demonetization and the GST ("good and simple tax" in his words) might have dragged the growth rate down from a high of 7.9% to a still impressive 5.7% but without demonetization and the GST perhaps India could not have aspired for a growth rate of 10% or more. Now it can.
But Modi does not have the luxury of time. The growth rate has to now go past at least 8% before he has to go back to the people in 2019 to renew his personal mandate.
Job creation is a major hurdle. It will happen or not in the so called informal sector. Making available credit to the chaiwalas (tea sellers) of India is what will do the trick.
On the political front Modi seems to be defying gravity. He repeated his total sweep of Uttar Pradesh. Nitish Kumar, projected by many as his most likely rival in 2019, has instead switched sides and joined him again. This would be like if John McCain were to join the Democratic Party.
Modi's challenge is to remain Prime Minister for at least 15 more years and give India sustained double digit growth rates, and then give the country a successor who will continue on that double digit path. All electoral victories however impressive will not mean much unless that economic objective is met. So far he shows all signs he will deliver.
In his very first year as PM Modi successfully concluded India's border dispute with Bangladesh. The dispute made the Israel Palestine land dispute look like a piece of cake. Just recently he got China to step back from potential war, or at least a skirmish. These are Nobel Peace Prize size political moves. A prize that he deserves, by the way. But it will be Gandhiesque if he does not get it. There is no telling he will not fall into the white blind spot. This is Time magazine Man Of The Decade if you ask me.
The thorn in his side continues to be the extreme right wing of his own organization. Hindu pride is fine. But anti-Muslim intolerance is offensive. If ever the BJP ends up in disgrace, that social weakness is going to be the reason why. It is the same God both Hindus and Muslims pray to. Five blind men are touching the same elephant.