Vantage point

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Manmohan's Address to the Nation

Yesterday our new PM finally made his first comprehensive address to the nation. Here is my take on it.

First the negatives

- There was an indirect assurance about the Women's Reservation Bill for 33% seats in Parliament. This is an ominous sign in my opinion. Reservations, especially in election people's representatives can only undermine democracy.

The positives

- The biggest positive is that he has spoken about reforming the government machinery itself. The biggest roadblock in India's path towards progress is the ramshackle government machinery, intoxicated by power, fattened by lack of accountability, and slowed down by unnecessary red tape. If Manmohan initiates the process of government reform, it will do as much good for the nation, as did economic reform.

- He has rightly identified that the main problem that the "kisaan" i.e farmer in our country faces is that of too many restrictions on trading. Manmohan has rubbished the Left's stupid take on agriculture, by doing this. An excerpt -
The Indian farmer has also suffered from too many controls and restrictions. There are still far too many internal barriers to trade that must go. We must also re-examine those aspects of our policies that prevent a creative interaction between farmers and agro-industries. I would like to see the creation of a ‘‘single market’’ across the country for both manufactured and agricultural produce with encouragement of agro-industry linkages.
If Manmohan pulls this off, he will go a long way towards removing the spectre of state-control from a very large portion of the country's economy.

- He said that social justice can not be achieved at the cost of fiscal discipline. let us hope he actually acts on this.

In general, there are very few negatives in this speech. It is a very balanced speech which does not attack anyone, and will not offend anyone except for the Left (which is fine, since even something like the sun rising only from the east everyday, can offend the Left).

Let us see if Manmohan can walk the talk.