ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Threat of Surcease

Threat of Surcease THE government has taken, over the past month, two major decisions in the economic arena. It has opted out of availing of the residue of the World Bank loan for the Sardar Sarovar project. It has also decided to desist, for the'present, from making a beeline for the International Monetary Fund's Extended Financing Facility. Other compelling factors must have been at the root of both decisions; certainly it was an instance of sour grapes in the case of the Narmada project, the environmentalists wielding a considerable influence on the new American administration having already sealed its fate. There is however fair ground for the hypothesis that these could also be taken as indicators of the government's tacit acknowledgement of the reality that the grand design of reforms initiated twenty-one months ago is not working. A reappraisal of policies is obviously called for. Cynics will of course have their own reading of the situation: the Left MPs must be dissuaded from voting for any cut motions on the budget, some sop has therefore to be held out toward their direction; the reforms path will be resumed once the government gets over this little local difficulty. On the other hand, despite the made-to-order pyrotechnics at Surajkund, there must be a considerable accumulation of grumblings and misgivings even within the Congress party in regard to the drift currently afflicting the economy. Not that Pavlovian reflexes on the part of those globalisers who can be best described as belonging to the Seventh-Day-Adventists school have totally died down, nor have admirers of the finance minister's 'miracle' budget disappeared altogether from the scene. But they have increasingly tended to fall back on oral eroticism. One claim posted on behalf of the finance minister is that he has snatched victory from the jaws of defeat by his proclamation that India has emerged as 'a major powerhouse in the world economy'. The emphasis is not on whether the country has in fact majored as.a 'powerhouse' in the world economic system, but on what the finance minister has asserted, as if assertion is the same as achievement.

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