In its June 9th print edition, ‘Economist’ wrote a ‘farewell’ leader article to ‘Incredible India’. Even the most die-hard Indian patriot had to agree with it and not quibble with the substantive message.
For an even more forthright depiction of the Indian reality, it would be hard to surpass this blog post of Mr. Bibek Debroy.
Just a sample:
When the history of the Indian economy is written twenty years down the line, we will look back at the 2004 to 2014 decade as one that was just as damaging as mid-1960s to mid-1970s, if not worse, because the world has changed. As was the case during that earlier decade, contrary views are not encouraged and are marginalized. Advisers, bureaucrats and economists flow along with the tide. That’s partly because views of many people are malleable. That’s a requisite trait for survival.
In the ‘Banyan’ blog in the magazine that deals with Asia, I came across this blog post. It comes across as a ‘sympathetic’ blog post from the Indian perspective:
As a member of the jackass media, I left the meeting with the feeling that one part of the state machine, the politicians, was still not working. However another part, the bureaucracy, was trying to raise its game.
“At the top level the leadership understands these principles very well,” said Mr Basu. If so, what a shame the top politicians are so terrified of saying the same thing aloud. The failure of India’s leaders to advocate reform before its citizens is one reason why there is so little consensus in favour of it among the public today.
Now, this is what is frustrating about this country. So, the bureaucracy is trying to raise the game. The leadership understands issues very well. But, in reality, none of the sensible things will get done but counter-productive initiatives will, somehow, see the light of the day. The list is long: retrospective tax law amendments, meaningless and extortionist tax raids, more government handouts, rollback of sensible decisions, deferment of needed reforms. Political parties will oppose the same thing that they tried to do when they were in office.
It is hard to understand the dynamics of public policy-making in India, let alone make sense of it.
(p.s: I tried to compliment Mr. Surjit Bhalla – it is not too often that I find myself in agreement with him, esp. when it comes to his Op.-Eds. on Indian monetary policy – for this Op.-Ed. of his but I got a strong pushback from my friends. Mr. Bhalla wanted to visualise a situation where the UPA rebuffing Ms. Mamata Banerjee on the Presidential candidate proved to be a political and economic turning point for India, for the better. One of my friends wrote that it was, perhaps, possible for Mr. Bhalla to dream with eyes open.
Even the usually positive Swaminathan Aiyar had a different take on the Presidential candidate nomination drama. Nothing is ever straight in this country.)