Yet, there is no full-time Finance Minister!
To explain and reassure the common man!

Inflation to fall to a record low, to 0.44% is a sign of many bad things for the economy. Experts will tell you what all those other bad signs are and what they predict for the economy as a whole.

Industrial production fell to 0.5%.Exports fell in the last five months to a record down of 12.21 %.Budget deficit; another indicator of the health of the economy is an unacceptable level of 8%.Budget deficit targeted is 2.5 %.

This means the government may have to borrow 3.6 trillion next year. All serious numbers and they need some serious-minded leader who is also a public figure to explain and reassure the public and the common man.

The elite, the educated classes too can’t keep mum for long.
The voters in the next month election might also feel the impact in their voting choices.
The Congress can’t take the voters for granted.

Already the allies are in a dishonest mood and mode as well!
So, how the Congress led government does hopes to win over the trust of the common people which it endearingly calls as aam aadmi!

The common man is left wondering what is happening to his life and his chances in this environment.

There is no public face for this government and yet there is so much wrangling for election tickets and the leaders are all by definition, the ones who can manage tickets for themselves and their dynastic ambitions!

Is this all to politics and elections?
What the rationale for the incumbent Prime Minister to lead such a team? Is he in charge of some portfolios? He has to honestly advise Sonia Gandhi to have someone appointed as the full-time Finance Minister.
It is sheer cruelty and mental torture for Mr.Pranab Mukerjee to carry on in this fashion. Is Mr.Mukerjee so meek and submissive, all for the sake of some future hope of getting the plum job at the South Block?

No, this is neither politics nor decency.
A country of India’s size and an economy that is rated as the second biggest in terms of people and area, next to China and has such a vital space in the world economic forums is left to have a minister who is doubling as both foreign minister and the finance minister. Whose wisdom is this, this solution to the country’s many problems?

Can one individual honestly do justice to his portfolio?

The world economy is widely predicted to go through one more year of deeper recession, if any. So, there is every indication and reason to hope for a very vigorous approach to meet the economic challenges. There is a perceptible decline in production in all vital sectors, perceptible reduction in key industries; we saw the latest statistics to show that we can’t take the complacent attitude that marks the establishment.

Are there no qualified men and women in the country to take up the responsibility to run the economy, to pull back the critical sectors back to some working normalcy? There is any number.

There is a very serious drawback in the attitude of Mrs.Sonia Gandhi. She is either calculative or she is simply incompetent. Her failure to live up to the expectations of the vast sections of the Indian people is shown in the way she gives directions to the unfortunate lot that surround   the Prime Minister and other hapless ministers.
One can be sure they are all blaming their bad luck, they can’t neither perform nor they are allowed to perform.

The devil is somewhere; the allies are all started giving the headache to Mrs.Gandhi. They must have found out her limitations and that is why they had dared to ignore her claims to lead the country, she is plainly feeling unsure of her own future. That is one reason or that must the one reason why she is unwilling to fill up the portfolios and even where some portfolios are by people, they are simply not up to the mark. Sports and Law are two examples. Why these two portfolios are filled by the people who are there. They haven’t done much nor do they seem to care for. For they knew they enjoy the prtonage.That is all.

Why burden other poor chaps, the juniors in the foreign ministry who double up as the minister for information and broadcasting. Why not appoint someone in charge?
So too the many other ministries.

Some ministries like the surface transport are now a big scandal. No targets are reached it seems. Nor likely in the near future.

How long and how far we would be only submissive to this sort of a government that holds the hapless sections, farmers, labour and the ones in all the industries that are hit by the recession?

Why there is no stimulus package for some of these industries hit by the recession?
Why not someone with a public face explains and reassures the public about the next step in tackling the recession blues?

It is a great pity that in India we are all so narrow-minded.

The Opposition party, namely, the BJP led by the redoubtable L.K.Advani, has some of the bright faces; Yashwant Sinha and Jaswant Singh have been both foreign ministers as well as finance ministers. Surely, they must be knowing lots of the intricacies in these two key ministries.

It is their public duty to give the Indian public their own inputs as to what can be done in these difficult circumstances.

They are the ones who are also likely to get back to such key portfolios once the BJP is in a position to form the next government. Even otherwise, they are both seniors and also wisemen and have a more moderate face.

So, they should step out into the public realm and speak to the people as what is being done by the government and what imp [act the likely policies in operation would have on the economy.

Even otherwise, there are many others both inside the parties as well as outside.
They all owe a duty to the people to speak out.

What is the point of having so many economists in the government? They are all tied to the official line. The official line is simply burden the incumbent ministers who are over-burdened already and they can’t really do much.

Yes, there is always this glib talk. Talk of ensuring food security.
That is a fine sentiment, provided you really ensure also security to the farming profession.
Is there now food security?

Yes, there is. The godowns are overflowing with excess grain stocks. The food security issues crops up every now and then, no, every year almost!

In 2005, there was a poor wheat harvest. A similar dismal year the year before as well.
The wheat stocks dipped just above 2 million tones on April 1, 2006, as against 4 mt and 15.6 mt on the same date of the preceding three years.

Once the private traders entered the scene and sought buying up the entire stock so to say, the government found out there is a crisis ahead. Panic reactions are the government’s policy drive often you know, in food management. So, the government then imported 7.2 mt on government account during 2006-07 and 2007-08 to a ban also, on wheat and non-basmati rice shipping, that is exports. And also another mechanism, futures trading was also banned.

By the middle of 2008, there was almost complete control of the farm sector economy, all grains, rice and wheat, also pulses, milk powder and maize and edible oils were banned or subjected to stringent licensing.

Yes, this is food management in a nutshell, for you, the hapless farmers!
We had a visitor recently to our office. He is a Malaysian citizen and engaged in commodities trade, of course into agricommodities primarily and yet he is well-versed in all commodity trading.

What he said?
He said that the commodities trading is a highly speculative one and almost like jungle warfare! No rules or regulations, no words are kept and no words of commitment kept either.

So, this visitor-friend told us: you enter this sector almost dominated by the traditional trader’s communities, uneducated and the trade instinct comes to them naturally from generation to generation and whatever the government intends to do, intend to do to help the farmers, is made unworkable by speculative trade strategies. The friend said, almost in a brutal tone: You can be killed in a minute, the trader can just pull down the price and drive you out of the market!”It is as simple as that!

The point here is that for the farmers, the real benefits from whatever the policies of the government, are very difficult to reach for the simple reason, the quantity of food production (all food items) is one thing. What the quantity really comes into the government godown is determined by the procurement policy, of course the minimum support price is the starting point and then the government has to compete with the private trade, both the big MNC corporate traders to the local traders and then, after the procurement, the government has to also permit the private traders who are traditional exporters of commodities like rice and wheat and cotton and also allow the importers to remain in the trade, the government has to allow selective or otherwise imports. Now, raw sugar is imported. Pulses and edible oils too.

So,the really the highly organised and highly speculative futures trading, the commodities trading and local traders, the millers and others, the various intermediaries, the brokers all join together to spoil the party so to say ,for the down to earth grass roots farmers to get any real incomes!

So, now you will get an idea.
Food security is not one of producing such and such quantity of food grains.
It is one of managing the food availability, through the PDS. Even the state governments can play havoc with the PDS by the free rice and free such and such essential commodities.

So, from various agencies to private trade all have to play their part and as the recent column noted what happens to the Indian food security ideal is what the cricket-crazy food minister does.

What time he allots and what thoughts that goes into his mind?
It is, that is, the food security is always what the government does by its “knee-jerk” actions and reactions!

So, the conclusion: food security is not just a simple issue. It is not one issue. It is a multi issue. One of production, stocking, managing the export and import trade in these items and managing the PDS.

So, food security needn’t be just self-sufficiency in food. It is a question of the various aspects of the world food production scenario, the weather condition and the climate change etc.

A credible personality as the Prime Minister!
Appoint Nandan Nilekani as the head of the Indian Planning Commission!
Appoint Narayanamurthy as Ambassador to the USA!

The G-20 meet in London marked the new US President Barack Obama emerging on the international stage and meeting with the world’s most powerful and in a way the most influential countries and their leaders. The meet also brought face to face for the first time the US and Russian presidents and also brought Obama face to face with the Chinese President Hu Jinto.

For us, Indians, the satisfaction is that Manmohan Singh travelled to London, just after his heart surgery and yet he took the trouble to be present and make India relevant in the world affairs.

How far the Indian Prime Minister impressed the international leaders is difficult to say.
The Indian media is so patchy and so pro-establishment that you don’t get the real feel about the event and the respective players, as you get from the British and the US media.
By all events, the Indian Prime Minister. Given his known proclivities, it must have been a tame affair.

For we know well that the Indian PM is not given to any   clear articulations or any clear stand on any known issues.

India needs a leader who can play a more activist and a more credible world statesmanship role.

A charismatic leader for India is the need of the hour. Charismatic leader is not one just with an attractive personality in the physical attributes alone. Though such attributes do matter.

It is not just about mere image and dressing up. Charisma is a moral attribute, an inner strength of the personality of the leader, one who is born to lead, born with an innate sense of moral leadership.

Yes, in a democracy you don’t often have much choice but driven by certain not always ideal choices. But then, in an ironic and curious way, democracy is also the best form of choice, one who is elected by the people, elected by the Parliamentary party, one who is able to inspire and create that moral aura is the person best suited to lead great country like India.

Barack Obama himself is an example of this democratically elected President of the world’s greatest power.

So, India too can get inspired by this example.

Now, there is a curious set of cynical and highly incompetent combination of adverse circumstances prevailing in the Indian polity where we see a scramble for the top job! How ironical! Simply because Dr.Manmohan Singh has now come to symbolise the worst fears. He sets a bad example, an untenable position, he seems to realise that he doesn’t owe any debt to the great legacy of the Indian National Congress which was, in its long history, noted for its vibrant internal democracy. There were occasions when even the great Gandhi’s own candidates were defeated by the other veteran leaders!

So, let us, Indians wake up and do some internal inner searchings and let us all try to change the current moral deficit and do the needed corrections before it is too long.
The younger generation won’t certainly take these sorts of bad leadership at many levels, at the party and government levels, lying too long.

Let us also revamp the current practices of governance.

We have take on board, so to say, men and women of achievements, like, say Nandan Nilekani, N.R.Narayanamurthy, Kiron Mazumdar and Captain Gopinath, to advise the Planning Commission, to advise the Prime Minister in redrawing the policies and development strategies. Please throw out the retired bureaucrats wholesale and give governance a new impetus.

Send out men of achievements as ambassadors to the USA and UK so that India’s new strengths and achievements get recognised and noticed.

The West, the governments and the Western media are not friendly towards India, India’s new rising prowess. So, we need a more intelligent and informed lobbying and image building. See how the Chinese is conducting its propaganda. Indian media is being flooded with the Chinese propaganda material. Where is such counter propaganda in the Chinese press or in the Western press either?

India is in the midst of the once-in- five-year general elections to the Lok Sabha that would give a new government in Delhi.

Indian politics today has turned out to be a multi-level political fight from among the parties at the state level, among the regional parties that are so splintered into various castes and interest groups and also among the parties at the national level among the two major national parties, namely, the Congress and the BJP.

As the parties are too many, as many as something like 200 and over parties are in the election field and there are many more caste groups and others who might not be political parties in the genuine sense but they have the potential to split the votes at the many levels.

The coalition politics as practiced so far has also lost its rationale to the extent that any party, however small, is now aspiring to provide the Prime Ministerial candidate!
Dr.Manmohan Singh, the incumbent occupant of the Prime Ministerial chair has somewhat become a comic figure that no one takes him seriously. Not certainly, any of the Opposition parties. In fact, the major Opposition party, the BJP, has turned the anomalous position of the Prime Minister in the party and in the government, as a weak nominee by Sonia Gandhi, he was nominated precisely because he is a weak person and also not elected to the Lok Sabha nor he was elected even for the tokenism sake, by the Parliamentary party of the Congress nor by the coalition partners.

The leader of the Opposition L.K.Advani has made it his election propaganda theme that the incumbent Prime Minister is the weakest person among all the Prime Ministers who had held office since Independence. This, in any other country, would have led to the Prime Minister or his party reacting and angry protests. But not in India. The Congress party by its silence only goes to reinforce the view that the party wants a weak Prime Minister so that even the less qualified Sonia Gandhi controls the affairs of the country from behind the scene.

Things have reached to such a pass that neither the party President nor the Prime Minister nor for that matter any of the high Constitutional office holders like the President or the Vice-President goes out, they don’t ravel in India nor they do abroad. The Indian Prime Minister ,even now in the latest visit to London was not even invited by the head of the UK, the Queen nor he was invited for any formal dinner or meeting by the British Prime Minister. All we have seen in India is that the PM appears on the door steps of 10, Downing Street, the official address of the UK Prime Minister and the two leaders pose for the camera and that is all.

The Prime Minister even otherwise, doesn’t seem to be  showing any energy or interest of even interested in any protocol or convention when such matters like an important international summit meeting. The PM didn’t even show interest in explaining to his country men what is the Indian agenda for the London G-20 summit. While we have to note that other leaders, in this case both Mr.Barack Obama and Mr.Nicolas
Sarkozy have written articles in the leading international newspapers about what they hoped to achieve in the G-20 meeting. Our Prime Minister even for the form sake must have given out his own considered thoughts on such an important international gathering of the world powerful nations.

This the Indian Prime Minister didn’t do. Nor he has educated the Indian public about the importance of the G-20 meet through any press conference. The PM is neither a great debator, he had never shown interest in participating in Parliament nor he is willing to face the press nor he is capable of articulating his views on such an important topic like the international financial crisis and the meltdown and the need for new initiatives.
What is all the use of the Prime Minister for having served on various national and international bodies like the IMF, if he doesn’t have a particular point of view on which the world leaders might be interested to know?

This is a great pity.

India has a Prime Minister who is almost as good as a lame duck Prime Minister at this point of time, nor is he sure of leading the government soon after the elections nor he is taken seriously by his own country men and his party about his own prospects to continue in the post.

Also, we see a pathetic situation where the Indian Prime Minister who only just two months ago underwent a major second bypass surgery and who needs rest and recuperation and yet he jumps at the first opportunity to travel to London, all for the sake of a photo opportunity and that might help him to have some more mileage in his fight with his opponents, in particular, with the leader of the Opposition.
And we have to see that in the world of today, more so after the new President Obama has taken over the reigns of power at the White House, the USA is caught with a major economic recession.

As the world is constituted the USA needs the help of other countries, in particular, the USA is dependent upon the Chinese investments, next comes Japan and thus the USA is more dependent upon China than India when it comes to real crisis as the current meltdown.

China has invested heavily in the US treasury bonds and also now in a position to lend more and also lend to the IMF to augment its funds to lend to needy countries in tackling the current crisis.

Also, it is significant to note that the US President is giving more importance and he had met on the first day in London, the leaders of China and Russia and India comes only later and that too when India desperately needs US goodwill and help in a host of issues of lesser significance, as seen from the summit platform. India wants to talk to the new US President, given Singh’s past relationship with George Bush and his own gaffes(like telling the then US President: Indian people love you so much etc),it is a small consolation for the Indians to see their Prime Minister to repair his relations  with the new incumbent at the White House. Pakistan, Nuclear deal and the rest of the issues are on a lower priority when we consider what would be weighing on the minds of the world leaders.

Indian Prime Minister must be ideally one who has an all India personality or at least an all India appeal, he must have stature and standing and he must have views that matter and that have some resonance and appeal to the wider sections of the people, the elites and the various interest groups.

Unfortunately, we are not able to stand up and applaud the Indian Prime Minister. He seems to me a tragic figure, lonely, without friends and followers and accompanied by only the low profile bureaucrats and the routine journalist contingent.

Is this all for a Prime Minister and his appeal to the world community?

I despair and feel dejected at the prospect of the Indian Prime Minister just coming back as he went out. Without noticed by his country men and he boarded the plane for what great purpose? And he is back as he went out, arrived without anybody getting excited by the whole exercise of departures and arrivals of the head of a government. His departures and arrivals are not done with a bang but a whimper!

Is this all to the Indian government and its claims to our attention? And that too in the midst of an important election that had already polarised the country into multiple splits of votes without the country getting any focus on any of the major issues, both domestic as well as on the foreign front?

Photo Courtesy : www.clintonglobalinitiative.org/nitawriter.wordpress.com

The debate over strong and weak Prime Ministers!

There is a furious debate in the Indian media, more on the more powerful and impactful TV news channels than in the drab and dull print media. It is all about how the now on the defensive-Congress led coalition facing up to the determined challenge posed by the formidable Opposition Prime Ministerial candidate L.K.Advani who heads the BJP coalition.

Yes, the stakes are high for both the Congress and the BJP, as the current election scenario is entirely a changed one. There is the any number of combinations in the Opposition ranks in the so-called Third or even the Fourth front.

The regional allies, the once and even now powerful allies, all of course driven by the caste and personality based egos, Lalu Prasad Yadav, Mulayam  Singh Yadva and Paswan, the three formidable caste leaders who pose a threat to the Sonia led Congress which strictly is not a cohesive coalition at all but just a convenient grouping centering around the vague notion that once a ruling group would somehow remain and likely to become another ruling group, whoever joins or leaves at whatever point of arrivals and departures, so to say.

Yes, we can see the otherwise very competent Sharad Pawar, they split Congress leader from Maharashtra talking and doing things that might look very confusing to the ordinary outsider eyes but a very big opportunist politician whom no one takes very seriously and more so no one trusts him than himself about his own so-called strategy to become the next Prime Minister.
What a shame for a man who rose in the ranks of the Congress but now for all practical purposes a deserter, if we can use such a term for this otherwise India’s richest politician who has so much money floating around him in so many avatars!

The others, Lalu Yadav have become now a great headache for Sonia Gandhi. Poor woman! She trusted him so much and so long but now the senior man turned a maverick, he talks everyday a new thing, now his trump card seems to be his secrets about how the Congress was party to the demolition of the Babri Masjid. So, the Congress is caught on the wrong foot. So, Lalu can’t be relied at all when it comes to selecting the new Prime Minister. Certainly, he would ditch Sonia and Manmohan wont matter in the matter at all. So too the other two cow-belt leaders: Mulayam, no one knows for sure in which direction he is heading. He seems to be friendless now, the CPI(M),the most talkative party now, its General Secretary seems to have so many tricks up his sleeve. Karat might join with Mulayam only when there are numbers from the Amar Singh stable, Amar Singh is the one who is capable of buying up the numbers with the power of money. Oh, now money flows in the Indian election process like the water in the India’s rivers. Everyday, the police seizes the currency bags from the speeding cars and vans all across the states in Karnataka and AP and not yet in TN.

The going average rate of payment per capita as on date in Karnataka and TN at any rate is Rs.2,000  voters! The flow of liquor is no less steady. Every day newspapers report the exact seizures. Yes, after all how long one can hide the funds, the size is so huge that one can’t hold it in secret for long. Now, every candidate, both in the North and in the South files along with their nomination papers their assets. The average Indian candidate in the elections is now a crorepati. Also, the candidates are become bolder and more honest with their accumulated wealth. They try at least to explain with their electorate that they earned the wealth in politics. To that extent, the Indian electoral process is becoming more open and more transparent.

The next Prime Minister?
Yes, the next Prime Minister is the hot topic now.

Surely, Sonia Gandhi seems to be banking upon  the poor or helpless (or more cunning than all of us?)Dr.Manmohan Singh. Singh was heavily dependent upon his carefully cultivated image as the most honest man, more transparent and more efficient. Now, the myths are falling one after another.

The latest TV news channels debate this topic more often and more stridently. The other day, Karan Thapar, perhaps the most sought after anchor, in his very highly rated Devil’s Advocate show got together some of India’s very  senior media hands, Inder Malhotra, Chandan Mitra, and Satyavradh Chaturvedi, the AICC hand and one or two others. The topic was how strong or weak is the Prime Minister Dr.Singh. And consequent upon this question was Singh’s credentials for his claims. The anchor posed the question how strong is Dr.Singh. The experts said that one’s strong or weak personality springs from his innate moral strengths. Said Chandan Mitra, the promoter and editor of the newspaper, Pioneer that Dr.Singh signed a sworn affidavit to say that he is a habitual resident of Assam to get elected to the Rajya Sabha. This, the PM, has done for four  consecutive terms  since 1991. While, said Mitra, with biting sarcasm, everyone knows, the whole country knows that Dr.Singh is not a native of Assam but of far off Punjab. In fact, even I don’t know, Dr.Singh was my contemporary at Oxford in my time, where Singh was born and what was his native place or his place of birth or upbringing.

Yes, Dr.Singh managed to become the Prime Minister of India without getting elected directly  to the Lok Sabha, the House of the People as it was the custom and tradition.

This is a serious blot on the character of the man who claims to be an honest man, a man of great integrity and moral stature.

So, when Advani charges  the Prime Minister as the country’s most weakest Prime Minister since Independence, it hurts the Congress party’s prospects as the most democratic-minded party and the most open party for all sorts of people, all sections, sects and religions and segments.

Is the BJP is a position to win the elections?

You can’t dismiss the BJP right now lightly. The once might Congress-led alliance is now  gone. All the powerful regional parties, from the most secular to the most casteists, from the Samajwadi, RJP to the DMK and the ADMK and even the parties like Telugu Desam and others are all calculating the prospects for themselves in the post-poll scenario.

If the numbers favour them, then even the CPI(M) join hands once again with the Congress. If the numbers favour themselves, then any party might join hands with any other party to make a claim for Prime Ministerial job. There are so many in the line. From the old horse. Deve Gowda to Mulyama Singh Yadav to Paswan to even Mayawati and Jayalalitha and even Naidu. Who knows the Left might thrust upon the nation some utterly unworthy candidates, they are not averse to do this, see what they have done for the choice of candidates for the high Constitutional offices.

So, there is utter cynicism to despair to some faint hope that after all a great country like India might throw up some worthy personality.

As for L.K.Advani making it this time, there is some hope that he could still make it, the last chance for the war veteran. And mind you, the BJP as a party is highly motivated and has some of the most talented Indians in its ranks.

So, when it comes to make a dispassionate judgement, there is every chance that this time the Congress only has a very fant chance to make the government. While the chances for the  BJP and the non-BJP and non-Congress forces to make up a coalition government the chances are fifty-fifty!

There is very little news in the Indian media, both print and TV news channels, about the G-20 meet and the participation of the Indian Prime Minister as one of the countries of the G-20.The developed countries have a great role, as next to the USA, it is the European countries, UK, France and Germany, and then among the countries from the East, it is Japan in the developed category and then China and India as the two big developing countries.

But even among the developing countries, India has a role only so far as we are able to impact or get impacted by the global economic crisis and that too as we are affected by our falling economic growth, as because of the American imports are in the decline, as our exports to the USA are under great strain and our outsourcing business is under pressure because of Barrack Obama’s “Buy American” policy of almost banning outsourcing.
The current world reality is that among the developing countries, America is relying more on China’s support and help, rather than needing India’s help, as there seems to be none at all as on date.

The US economy’s troubles we need not elaborate here and yet we can have some idea if we know some statistics. USA lost 2 million jobs in the past three months and the number of job openings is down 33% from a year ago. There are multiple crises, joblessness to homelessness to mortgage failures to outrageous bonus paid out of the government bailout money that had enraged the entire country and the President, given his image as an “ultra cool persona” lost his cool obviously and he said he was “angry”. So the popular upsurge against such outrages had caused a great nation-wide populist anger and populist pressures to behave. Both the government and the very many institutions, notably, the trouble created banks and insurance companies.

So, the American President comes to the G-20 meet, not as a confident and cool man but as one who has been mildly reminded as ineffectual and also very confused. Many of his nominations for high profile jobs in his “ministry” as well as in the treasury had fallen through owing bad judgments and poor scrutiny and other casues.

So, the new and young and shall we say the inexperienced US President comes to London and when he meets the other nations’ leaders, the only expectation is what would be the outcome after meeting such leaders like UK PM and other European leaders who are a bit disappointed by the new President’s approach to the various world issues like Iran, Iraq and more significantly to Russia.

The economic crisis in USA can’t be solved by the US alone. It requires the help of many countries, in particularly, the help of China which has not only the biggest investor in US treasury bonds, China is also now capable of investing in the IMF which is emerging as the key institution in solving the world’s new economic crisis which is the biggest crisis since the first world war, it is said.

The Obama administration has made the fortifying the IMF as one of the primary goals of the G-20 meet.

Why?

IMF is what is called the lender of the last resort and this role now seems to have become very critical in restoring the health of many nations’s economies. But then the IMF needs funds. The US Treasury Secretary says, the man who once worked at the IMF  and he must be knowing what he is speaking about, he says that the IMF needs to be injected with more funds, as much as 500 billion dollars in order to enable the institution to do its job effectively. Japan and EU have each pledged 100 billion dollars, the US signaled that it would match the same sum, though it is said its money would take a longer time to come! Congressional approval needs for the US to do it.

China with its mammoth foreign exchange reserves, is the next obvious donor, it is noted by one and all!

Where does India come in?

Nowhere, it is obvious. Because neither the Indian Prime Minister nor his battery of officials around him and also travelling with him, dont seem to think it is important to inform or educate the opinion at home or abroad. It is a great pity.

India has a Prime Minister who is not only weak, after a major surgey, he is also weak in the perception of a wide section of opinion, both at home and abroad. His image is also poor in other respects.

Not long ago, he was seen befriending Obama’s predecessor by “stooping to conquer” and addressing the then US President as saying in his face” the Indian people love you, Mr. President”. Such a remark didn’t go down well with his own countrymen and who saw in such an expression that the entire Indian country’s image was tarnished, as seen as a weak nation with a weak Prime Minister who didn’t observe proper protocol on such occasions but also didn’t adopt correct balance as it is the meeting between two sovereign nations but also as one of statesmanship that would impact and colour the relationships in the longer term as well.

So, what would the Indian Prime Minister would be talking with the new US President this time?

How would India establish its relationship with the new US administration? What would be the opening remarks on such momentous occasion?

No one thought of asking such questions either before the departure of the Indian Prime Minister or even after the Prime Minister decided to make his first foreign journey after his long recovery from his medical problems.

This has also added to the discomfiture to the party he is supposed to lead in the crucial general elections and where he is projected as the next Prime Ministerial candidate and yet he is viciously attacked by the Opposition as weak and unsure candidate given the Congress party’s own dilemma. Sonia Gandhi, the party president, is also unsure how the election outcome would work itself out. Nor is she sure of retaining Dr.Manmohan Singh’s candidature for the Prime Ministerial job. There doesn’t seem to be a clear idea as to what is the thinking inside the Congress party. Though the party is a national organisation, it is just a fiction that it is a nation-wide party.

It is almost wiped out or at best a very insignificant presence in the major states like UP and Bihar and the rest of the so-called cow-belt of the Hindi heartland where the opposition BJP is a strong contender for votes.

Nor the Congress party is a really genuine democratically-constituted party. It is as it is now constituted ,is a party of new style careerists, those careerists who have migrated to the party as it is a cosy conclave of power seekers and power brokers where the old style dedicated Congress workers or party leaders who came from traditional Congress families. It is a party of upstarts, those who found the political careers as ministers and party functionaries, a highly profitable job hops, more lawyers, more retired government servants, even such high Constitutional office holders like former judges of Supreme Court and Central Election Commission and such other office holders, including the incumbent Prime Minister are all now Congress party leaders and office holders and wielder of power.

With the result, the image of the Congress party, in spite of it being the ruling party, is not taken seriously buy its own current allies who are still in the ruling coalition and  yet they are contesting against the  very same Congress party that had given them power and status as powerful ministers!

So, what credibility and image the Indian Prime Minister would be carrying with him when he travels abroad and meet the world leaders. Practically very little if at all!

Nor is the Prime Minister on any sure ground when it comes to high economic policy making. Nor, when it comes to making any new foreign policy moves.

The Indian foreign policy establishment is also very weak and very cursorily constituted.
There is no full-time foreign minister and he is also burdened with additional charge as the finance minister too!

What a rationale the Indian government makers are following?
The very same US President is widely ,though in subdued  tone, is criticised for not filling up some of the very crucial slots in the US Treasury, a powerful economic engine for managing the US economy.

So, what is there for India to walk to the US President and present him with the Indian counterparts? There is neither full-time Indian finance minister nor a full-time Indian foreign minister! What sort of competence you can attach to Sonia Gandhi who is seen as the power behind the Indian Prime Minister?

The world would only laugh at the Indians sense of political judgment and political immaturity. It is political immaturity and political incompetence at the worst kind we have in India at present.

And now, what sort of talk we make on the solution of the Indian economic problems?
The Prime Minister convened a high power meet in Delhi, before his departure. It consisted of the Indian corporate world. Fine. But then, observers must have noticed, it didn’t contain a single face that represented the new economy!

No new achievers and shakers and movers! No Narayanamurthy or a Kiran Mazumdar or a Captain Gopinath, all who had created a new image for Indian corporate success stories. That showed the old mindset, the old world of bureaucracy and the old style almost feudal mindset of the very Indian corporate world and that, in our considered opinion, doesn’t give a correct picture of the Indian successes nor about the current Indian concerns like the steep fall in number of employees, in the IT sector and where the human resources are heavily concentrated and where urgent protective policies are called for.

The economic stimulus packages are called for sector-wise and it is the US-India linkages are needed to be reworked and re-established.

The US President seems to be a bit innocent or unconcerned or not prepared either by his policy advisers about the future course of the IT and the outsourcing industry in the already highly globalised world.

The US industry can’t hope to recover or pull back from its current crisis, without reducing its costs. It is in the area of reducing costs and making a virtue of cost advantages, the Indian IT prowess comes into top priority for the US economy recovery path.

Yes, India may not be able to match the Chinese ability to lend to IMF and effect quick or immediate recovery. But then, there can’t be any sustainable recovery without cost savings.

It is here the Indian IT industry would truly emerge as a world class world saving economic recovery tool. One wonders whether the Indian Prime Minister consulted widely and had a wider perspective about the recovery of the global economy and India’s precious role in that.

So, there are so many dimensions to the current economic recession and also for the economic recovery plan.

One also wonders how far the economic advisers of the PM, all dyed in the wool routine workers in the already thick and rule-bound circuit of the Delhi environment and a very insensitive machine at that would be viewing the economic crisis and the way out of it. Even as the election process is on the Indian government thinks fit to award the pay packages to its 4 lakh and odd PSU employees!

What is the wisdom here?

One wonders and hopes for the Prime Minister to return from London with some glory!

Photo Courtesy : Corbis News