September 11, 2012
it is not policy paralysis, it is fear of continuing with old corrupt ways
There has been several criticisms, most of them being quite harsh, of India's Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, in Indian and international media. Almost all the criticisms are focused on the policy paralysis in the Indian government and how Singh is an ineffective leader.
On the other hand, backed with Comptroller Audit General (CAG) reports on the scam in coal block allocations when Singh was the Coal Minister, civil society members in India are attacking Singh for being corrupt and not for policy paralysis.
In my understanding, the latter group is more accurate in their assesment.
The former, comprising mainly of editors and senior journalists in Indian and international media, have, as they usually do, distorted the truth. Manmohan Singh has not paralysed the Indian economy. He has doled out several un-deserving benefits to Indian industrialists and foreign ones as well including the foreign investors in the last 7-8 years. And he has done this at an unprecedented fast pace (people who think he is slow are actually wrong, he moves very fast in such matters with the help of his team members such as Chidambaram and Montek Singh Ahluwalia).
While he personally would not received any bribe (similar to the scenario where Narendra Modi does not keep bribes for himself) but the benefits would have got transferred in the form of donations to the Congress party (similar to Modi passing on bribe money to the coffers of RSS-Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in Nagpur and BJP-Bharatiya Janata Party in Delhi) as well as to personal accounts of senior-most Congress politicians.
Since the Nira Radia tapes came out followed by 2G spectrum scam (in which too Singh had given the green signal to a process not involving auction) a couple of years back, some more skeletons came out of the cupboard.
The policy paralysis, therefore, is not due to a lack of belief in continuing with the doling out of freebies to industrialists and investors, but due to the coming out in the open of corrupt practices of Singh and his team. They are wary of continuing with their old corrupt ways for fear of being caught in a scenario where they are being watched by CAG and civil society closely and also due to the upcoming national elections in 2014. This is precisely what many financial media editors (Indian or international) like to side-step.
In the same breath as they attack corruption (for who can openly say that corruption is ok) they also give examples of major projects hanging fire due to Singh government's policy paralysis. One of the editors recently gave the examples of Posco and Arcelor Mittal. Now, both projects have faced opposition from people on the ground (locals living in the project areas) due to forcible land acquisition and blatant dis-regard for environmental norms. These projects can not move without large amounts of bribes being offered to state and central government politicians. But the brain-washed media editors turn a blind eye to the contradiction of being anti-corruption and pro-such-projects-involving-very-high-corruption.
Manmohan Singh does not have a problem in receiving these sums for his party and other senior-most politicians. If he personally does not benefit financially, why does he do all this? In my view, he is an ideological fanatic. He believes in a form of economics where every bit of land and every bit of activity is dominated by large companies. He does not believe in small, local-level, self-sustaining ventures by the people and local entreprenuers. He is brainwashed into thinking that only large companies can make India develop. And, last but not the least, he cares two hoots for the ecology and environment which according to him must be obstacles in the path of high rate of growth.
His and financial media editors' obsession with high rate of growth is what has hurt India the most.