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.
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