When Sonia Gandhi mysteriously heeded her “inner voice” in 2004 and passed on the baton to Oxbridge-educated Manmohan Singh, the country it was believed was in safe hands. And when Singh chose Harvard-educated P. Chidambaram as his finance minister, who in turn picked Rhodes scholar Montek Singh Ahluwalia as deputy chairman of the Planning Commission, it was universally decreed that a “dream team” was in place to guide the country’s economic fortunes.
After all, Manmohan Singh was seen to have been the man who put India on the fast-track in 1991 under the tutelage of P.V. Narasimha Rao. After all, Chidambaram was seen to have produced a “dream budget” in 1997. And true enough, there has been an 9 per cent growth in the country’s GDP year after year since the United Progressive Alliance took charge four years ago. But on the day the inflation rate has shot up to a 13-year high of 11.05 per cent, it’s time to ask: has the dream team failed India?
Admittedly, a host of international factors are at play. But looking at the galloping inflation, has India’s GDP growth been in spite of the financial wizardry of the “Singh Parivar”? Have Chidambaram & Co failed to check petrol, diesel and cooking gas prices, and thus prices of food and commodities? Has the stock market, which has plunged several thousand points from the high of 21,000, seen through the game? Are programmes like farm loan waiver and national rural employment guarantee scheme proof?
Will the dream team’s failures cost the Congress and UPA the election? And is that why we are seeing this last-minute brinkmanship on the Indo-US nuclear deal?
Photograph: courtesy Hindu Business Line
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