Friday, December 24, 2010

Manmohan Singh's second innings

Over the past one and half years, the Manmohan Singh government's second innings has more negatively, than its first full innings. Even though it no longer has the left party questioning its wisdom in trying to apply more liberalised economic policies., and with comfortable majority in numbers, obviously the people of India expect more from its well qualified prime minister in Independant India. Mr. Singh has become a PM that history is going to treat significantly. Not a cameo display like what Deva Gowda or I.K.Gujral who were relatively were night watchmans in the Indian political system in the late 90s. Mr. Singh could possibly become the longest serving PM in independant India outside the Gandhi family. A lot is at stake now than ever for Mr.Singh. Things seems to go normal for the Congress Government until recently. The primary enemy being Inflation and the scams. It all started with the delay in Common Wealth Games venue preparation. None of the infrastructure was in place in time, inviting adverse comments from foreign media especially the BBCNEWS, one of the most respected media in the world. It is true there was a sense of irresponsibility on the Common Wealth Games committee members, and as usual the implementations delay. It just turned out to be one classic tale of how in India, things get done only in the last minute. It turned out to be a typical example of a polician who cannot deliver. Of course, i am referring to Suresh Kalmadi. What followed in the last week of September, and first week of October turned out to be what a Indian policitian CAN achieve. Now i am referring to Ms. Sheila Dixit. Finally in spite of all chaos we really did manage to pull of a successful CW games. The opening ceremony from the school children is worth a mention, and promises that India is in good hands in future. Except for the snake stories, which may have happened anywhere as well, the CWG was a satisfactory and pleasant experience for the atheletes. There was no major complaints in spite of the bad run-up days to the games. India managed to finish second in the over all medal tally. The security was tight, no surprises, and things went well as the govt hoped. Now that the games are over, still the questions remain. why did it cost more than the stipulated budget. Why didnt the atheletes village get ready in time? why was the run-up to the event lack faces. why did it involve the PM of the nation to step-in to put things in order. what happen to the money spent? why did the system fail. The government has the obligation to explain this to the people. They deserve to know why the CWG became a embarrasement rather than a event of pride. Bottom line who is corrupt, why arent they held accountable. Mr. Suresh Kalmadi needs to answer a bunch of the questions being the chairman of the organising committee. Mr. Suresh Kalmadi has been the chairman of the Olympic Committee of India ever since i could remember, and not much has happened for India in the Olympics. His track record is unimpressable. He is incompetant and its time to leave. Punish him, if found guilty. Oh.. in the slow India judiciary, he will definetely get away for sure. The CWG episode really ignited the smoke in 2G spectrum tender into a big fire. The accusation that the 2G spectrum was given to corporates for a throw away price in 2008 was always in the political discussion. The Radia tapes and the kargilgate scam where Maharashtra CM Mr. Ashok Chavan had to resign put ammunition to opposition guns, and they did come up with full swing on 2G scam. This is a right step from the Indian opposition, particularly the BJP and AIADMK and managed to get rd of Mr. Raja from the union ministry. However it took disruptions of parlimentary proceedings to make the congress act. Now Mr. Raja is out and an enquiry has began. As usual, the days will make the 2G spectrum have some fun in the mainstream media and it will vanish as anyother corruption scandal in India. It just makes some character character assasination of some political leaders has began, this time, it a minister. No one will ever be punished for the loss of the exchequer. once again, thanks to the slow pace of the Indian Judiciary. The worst possible scenario for Mr. Raja is he loses his political future. There are reasons for Mr.Raja to believe, being a union minister is probably his best shot in Delhi politics., which he has already achieved.

Multiple scams, price rise is what the Manmohan Singth has on hand to solve. The Congress government cannot risk these issues at the time of state elections next year. The Congress government's integrity is at stake.The government should come out with guns blazing to put an end to price rise, and act its house is corruption free. The recent spike in Onion prices, is one more symtom of the same problem, and the PM has to promise personally to the people of India to bring down the prices in 3 weeks. If you want to know, how important is the price of Onion and whats its cost to the political party in India? Ask anyone in BJP. In 1998 under the NDA banner, it lost vital elections because of the price of Onions. Everyone aware of the Indian polical system knows its cost. I visited India for this year recently for diwali, and found real inflation in almost all sectors. Prices have gone high everywhere. Usually, the rich and middle class get away from it with more pay checks, Its always the small guy like BPL families, pensioners get affected directly. A Nation with high inflation is bad than a nation with good growth. Growth cannot come at the cost of inflation, and the PM must know this than anyone else, being an economist. Value of house prices have shot up abnormally, while the rents still are nominal. All it says, is there is a clear real-estate bubble in India right now. It is not as big as a housing mess in what is happening in the western economies but it is still above normal levels. The Government must step-in and control the money supply. No growth is better than bad growth.

Congress has a lot at stake. The PM is most likely having his final tenure as PM, and he cannot afford to make a mistake. The idea that he is Mr.Clean in Indian politics holds true still, and its up to him to maintain that. Congress has to enact new laws to punish corrupt people. We need stricter laws sooner rather than later. Prices must be brought down, at the expense of growth. India saves 35% of their income. Price rise punishers savers. Congress should not miss an oppurtunity to fix corruption and price rise now or it may regret. Since there are no winnable opposition party in near future, that can provide alternate government in Delhi, it can buy time for now, but not for it cannot afford the anger of the Indian electorate.