Blah on the one hand and blah on the other

An octopus, it is said, can make a great economist. Reason: it can say “on the other hand” seven times more than their more than two-handed counterparts. Especially when the annual tamasha called Union budget is around.

For weeks and months, pundits, policy wonks, television talking heads and other interested parties fulminate on what needs to be done and what is to come. Numbers with a lot of zeroes are thrown around. In the end, after every “show”, it is just a lot of on the one hand and on the other hand.

Pranab Mukherjee‘s budget is no exception.

The Congress’s surprising victory in the general elections, which allowed it to form a government without the support of the Left parties, and the President’s address to the opening session of the new Lok Sabha, had lead many cheerleaders (fully clothed) to presume that the reform rath would roll out.

In reality, yesterday’s budget was a page straight out of the Kuala Lumpur Police Department manual with not a squeak to pep up the markets. Yet, there is so much thunder and lightening in the papers and television, it is difficult to understand whether it was good, bad or abominable.

But at least we heard some nice lines:

1. Swaminathan Anklesaria Aiyar: “The only constituencies this budget addresses are the constituency of the aam admi and the constituency of 10, Janpath.”

2. Ashok Wadhwa: “The 2,000-point jump in the Sensex when the Congress voted back to power is as undeserved as the 800-point fall after the budget.”

3. Bibek Debroy: “If con is the antithesis of pro, then Congress is the antithesis of progress.”

4. Sandeep A.: “If this is the budget of a newly sworn-in government with a majority of its own and without left support, imagine the same budget in its fifth year with an election to face.”

What’s the best line you heard? And the worst?