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

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Reforms under a Cloud

THE Congress Party's debacle in the assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka has reopened the debate on the economic reforms which earlier the government at any rate had been inclined to treat as closed. The doubts and sense of unease of sections within the ruling party itself are coming into the open. The protagonists of the reforms have been put on the defensive, but their response to the situation, as is evident from the statements of the prime minister himself, is to concentrate on the 'packaging' of the reforms so as to give them the appearance of being pro-poor, especially in view of the coming round of assembly elections in some of the major states early next year. They do not want to face the fact that if the economic reforms have to gain popular acceptance they have to squarely address the basic issues confronting the majority of the people, namely, poverty, unemployment and underemployment, appalling conditions of housing, sanitation and health and so on. Popular perception of the government's economic policies can hardly be expected to change unless they are seen to be genuinely geared to controlling inflation, creating employment, generating dynamism in the rural economy, reducing rural-urban as well as regional disparities and improving health standards and educational and skill levels.

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