MMS and his govt in hibernation

US think tank sees a ‘vacuum’ there


Prasanna Mohanty | April 20, 2012

If you thought the phrases like “the weakest prime minister ever”, “policy paralysis” and “United Paralysis Alliance” are the language of the political adversaries, think again. Even those closest to the prime minister, Manmohan Singh, and his government have come to the same conclusion. The language may be different but the message is equally, or even more, blunt.

In fact, Friday’s newspapers delivered a double whammy. Kaushik Basu, a brain trust of Manmohan Singh and “chief economic adviser to the prime minister”, featured on the front page confidently telling a Washington-based think tank that no major economic reform is likely to happen in India before the general elections of 2014.

Addressing a meeting at Carnegie Endowment for Internal Peace in Washington, Basu said various scams had so impacted the psyche of the bureaucrats that they didn’t want to take any risk. Betraying a sense of frustration with the current state of affairs, he said, “you would see a rush of important reforms” post-2014 because there was a sense that reforms needed to pick up. Until then, only some minor reforms might get through, he added.

But no such beating around the bush for an American think tank, US India Business Council. In a secret memo to president Barack Obama, the council said there was a “vacuum at the Centre” in India.

The council is the apex body of American corporates doing business in India. It made clear what it thinks of the Manmohan Singh government: “What is apparent is that political power is devolving to strong state leaders, and the vacuum at the Centre is allowing forces in government to move on issues that are harmful to India’s investment climate.”

Unlike Basu, the council sees a silver lining though in the recent assembly elections, which, its memo said, indicated that the people were hungry for progress. Incidentally, the Congress and its allies got a drubbing in these elections.

Both Basu and the council know what they are talking. We can take their words at face value. While Basu is part of the government’s drive to usher in reforms the council is involved in framing those very reforms. It had played a key role in the passage of the Indo-US nuclear deal in 2008 and has deep ties with the current dispensation.

So, dear readers, have no illusions and don’t blame LK Advani and others. We have it now from the authoritative sources. Wait patiently until 2014 or go watch a movie. There isn’t much of a choice really.



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