It was 1991, India was having a forex reserve of $ 1.2Bn. By June, 1991, she had reserves enough only to take care of another 3 weeks of imports, then. She was about a month away from making defaults on her external payment obligations. Time was running out. PM Chandra Sekhar decided to pledge 67 tons of gold for a mere $ 600 million. There was an out cry in the nation when the event came into light. Governmnet fell.
The new PM Mr. Narsimha Rao along with then Finance minister Mr. Manmohan Singh ushered series of reforms to restore the economic condition of country. The reforms done were more out of compulsion since IMF laid conditions for lending money to India. The markets were opened for foreign investments and as they say….the rest is history!
2012, today we are into a situation that is often compared with the situation we faced in 1991, though it is a lot more different than those days.
1991 crisis was mainly the consequence of Gulf war, which soared India’s Oil bills and exports dried up. Prolonged situation resulted into fiscal deficit and payment issues. The markets were closed for foreign investors then.
Today, markets are opened, though highly regulated. There is policy paralysis and lack of political will to initiate next level of reforms. It is the vote bank that matters the most. The government is waiting for Presidential elections to get over so as to start reforms. On the contrary, it should be an ongoing activity and not when situation becomes dire. Corruption has reached to a level that speakers of ruling party shamelessly justify it on news channels at prime time. There is no accountability, no transparency. Labour law reforms and Judiaciary empowerment are distant dreams.
It is a national shame that the man with highest dignity and holding most important position of the country is mocked about by the media. The ‘Underachiever’ tag is because Mr. PM had delivered things earlier. he has been an achiever throughout. But when he assumed the highest level of authority and responsibility, he acted as a mere shadow. He has the potential, the resources and the power. He could have done things differently.
The only thing that works in the favour of ruling party is weak opposition. The opposition has many internal problems to deal with, leadership issues to sort out with and stately affairs to manage with.
A country is as good as the leader. Unfortunately, Manmohan Singh could not provide the leadership the country needed. It is the political unwillingness which has created the mess. With European issues aggravating, things can go worse. I don’t doubt on the integrity of Mr. PM. But to allow wrong doing happening is as good as to support it. Nothing has been lost yet (and my mind says we have lost 8 golden years in inactivity since 2004). Yet we can sit back, sort out priorities and implement them. Execute them. Rest, the champions are there in the government to advice.
fOoD fOr ThOuGhT: Proud to an Indian, not so proud the way economic mess is created. We need to set our priorities right and implement reforms taking tough stand. And we also need to spare amendments were not required like the IIT entrance and higher education system. Lets get the basic right and start with primary schooling first.
PS: Nothing against anyone, just the economic mess and insane politicians speaking on prime time news makes me think hard. This statement becomes important for me to write since we have ‘freedom of speech’ but it is highly regulated these days!