Himalaya Watch

People, issues. Debates, perspectives. Details, nuances. A crisp view from the top.

Visit the new professional website of Jiwan Kshetry

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Singh's Legacy: India liberalizes one step further

The latest act of the Indian government led by Dr. Manmohan Singh to allow FDI in retail sector has caused a huge uproar in India and this may be a beginning of new tussle between the government and opposition. Beyond the race for votebank politics, however, the long term implications of the new policy may be very ominous.

In 1991, the then finance minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Sing, under PM P. V . Narasimha Rao spearheaded a campaign to liberalize the Indian economy. Those reforms carried out over the period of 1991-1996 resulted in the eventual end of the Licence Raj system, helping to open the Indian economy to greater international trade and investment.
Over the tumultuous period between 1996 and 2004, India saw as many as four different governments with particular instability over the first four years although the pace of reform, having already gained momentum, continued.
It was after the surprising victory of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) in 2004 with Dr. Singh as PM that the environment became more conducive for a renewed push at further liberalizing the economy. But there was one more hurdle: the Left alliance holding a significant constituency of the UPA I which was vociferous on opposing any such moves.
Finally in 2009 came the thumping victory of the UPA II from which the leftists had separated following their objection to civilian nuclear deal with the US. With resurgent congress and impeccable performance of the alliance, there were now no hindrances to what Dr. Singh wished to do according to his vision.
But over the past year, the UPA in India has seen pretty bad days and the period has become far more humiliating and disgraceful for the once-revered PM of the country. After exposure of one scandal after another of mammoth scale, it has become very hard for the alliance to hold the ground. With humiliating defeat of one of the allies of Congress in the southern state of Tamil Nadu in the backdrop of infamous 2G scam and subsequent defeat of the Congress candidates in bypolls in the aftermath of a debilitating agitation against corruption by social activist Anna Hazare, the troubles for Congress, UPA as well as for Dr Singh personally seem to only grow with time.
Even in this shaky background, the SIngh government surprised many by taking a bold cabinet decision to allow Foreign Direct Investment in retail sales, a highly sensitive and controversial issue impacting the lives of millions of retail traders throughout the country. Despite the argument of the supporters of the move that there is no need to panic as the market is so big that everyone can accomodate, that may hold true for the short term.
And while the concerns of many in the opposition may be their compulsion to appease the votebank through popular rhetoric, there are other genuine concerns that the government or the PM have not bothered to address. In a country of billion plus population with as many as 37% of people under poverty line, the move to force millions of poorly organized and ill-equipped retail sellers to compete with the highly capable and mighty MNCs may be equivalent to asking them to gradually withdraw from the field so that the MNCs can increase their share in the market eventually controlling whole of it.
While the fiery rhetoric of the opposition leaders like "I'll set Walmart Store afire" are sporadic and meant at definite political gains, the justifications given by the government ministers in the issue are also patchy at best. The claims that the entry of highly efficient corporations would improve supply chain contributing to reduce the inflation seem to have merit but that speaks nothing about how the problem of potential loss of livelihoods of millions of people will be dealt with.
With even one of the important allies in the UPA joining the opposition on the issue, this may prove a hard pill to swallow for the government and the PM. But going by the trend, the legend of liberalization of India is all set to defend his latest act and to proceed as he has always done, despite all kinds of objections and obstructions. The full implications of the step in the long term, however, still remain to be seen.

Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/blog/14066#ixzz1euMLNBv9

No comments:

विजय कुमारको खुशी पढेपछि

जीवन, खुशी अहंकार

जीवनमा अफ्ठ्यारा घुम्तीहरुमा हिंडिरहँदा मैले कुनै क्षणमा पलायनलाई एउटा विकल्पको रुपमा कल्पना गरेको थिएँ, त्यसलाई यथार्थमा बदल्ने आँट गरिनँ, त्यो बेग्लै कुरा हो त्यसबेला लाग्थ्योः मेरा समग्र दुखहरुको कारण मेरो वरपरको वातावरण हो, यसबाट साहसपूर्वक बाहिरिएँ भने नयाँ दुख आउलान् तर तत्क्षणका दुरुह दुखहरु गायब भएर जानेछन् कति गलत थिएँ !

Read more from Dashain Issue

Debating partition of India: culpability and consequences

Read the whole story here

Why I write...

I do not know why I often tend to view people rather grimly: they usually are not as benevolent, well-intentioned and capable or strong as they appear to be. This assumption is founded on my own self-assessment, though I don’t have a clue as to whether it is justifiable to generalize an observation made in one individual. This being the fact, my views of writers as ‘capable’ people are not that encouraging: I tend to see them as people who intend to create really great and world-changing writings but most of the times end up producing parochial pieces. Also, given the fact that the society where we grow and learn is full of dishonesty, treachery, deceit and above else, mundanity, it is rather unrealistic to expect an entirely reinvigorating work of writing from every other person who scribbles words in paper.

On life's challenges

Somebody has said: “I was born intelligent but education ruined me”. I was born a mere child, as everyone is, and grew up as an ordinary teenager eventually landing up in youth and then adulthood. The extent to which formal education helped me to learn about the world may be debatable but it definitely did not ruin me. There were, however, things that nearly ruined me. There came moments when I contemplated some difficult choices. And there came and passed periods when I underwent through an apparently everlasting spell of agony. There came bends in life from which it was very tempting to move straight ahead instead of following the zigzag course.

Read more