India Uncut

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Saturday, February 05, 2005

The politics of reform

The easy phase of India's liberalisation is over, writes Shekhar Gupta in the Indian Express. He says:
The reform that may look inadequate, or compromised, from an economist’s or a pink paper’s perspective can look very different from a political viewpoint. Much of the low-hanging fruit on the reform tree has already been plucked. What comes now is the tough part, fundamental tax reform, setting up new regulators, consolidation of oil and aviation and banking PSUs, and you cannot do it by stealth. Also, our sizeable community of reform sceptics is now more vigilant and, more significant, within the establishment. So all reform today will be hard politics.

Manmohan Singh's government, he writes, has done an excellent job of moving ahead with this difficult phase of reform given its political compulsions of taking the left along. For example:
Telecom was the first test, and you have to give credit to the Manmohan Singh government for managing it quite brilliantly. He stayed the course without rushing things, got the Left to say several times at UPA coordination meetings that they had no problem with FDI in infrastructure, and then clinched the argument because telecom was, after all, infrastructure.

I know there are sceptics who feel that the left will prevent any significant progress in terms of reform, but, as I have stated before, I have a lot of faith in Manmohan Singh. He started this process, and we couldn't have a better man at the helm taking it forward.
amit varma, 5:03 PM| write to me | permalink | homepage

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