Friday, February 18, 2011

Politics above reform

Montek Ahluwalia shrugged off any discussion of corruption in India, "In India, we follow the fashions of the West, with a 10-year lag: there they had Enron and Worldcom; now it is our turn."

Moral equivalence is the shortest cut to moral decay. Aside from that there is the small matter of a (convenient) blurring of the difference between corruption at the senior-most levels of government, and corporate fraud. When those who are supposed to guard us against crime become criminals, we are plunging into the abyss.

In compensation, we have the suave, glib words of a committed technocrat, and I use the term 'committed' in the most pejorative sense of the term.

Montek had the answer to everything, "We know what we have to do: we have to price energy right, by removing subsidies; we have to price water; we have to figure out urbanisation; we need FDI in retail; we have to reform agriculture....However, we have no plan to get from point A to point B. We will take measures when there is a political opportunity to do so."

Which a senior businessman of my acquaintance translated thus, "Hum gaddi nahin chhodengey", meaning that we will reform only when it doesn't rock our barge of political complacency. Barges, of all craft, are most subject to drift. 

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