- Current Account Deficit nearly 4%… (or more than 4 now)
- High Fiscal Deficit
- High Inflation
- Policy Paralysis…
- Eurozone brouhaha
I could go on and on several real and imagined parameters… but the above should be good enough to underline that we are currently passing through rather tough times. The newspapers are, on a daily basis, full of doomsday predictions, blaming ruling alliance and so on and so forth! Policy paralysis has almost become the buzzword! And it is precisely these thoughts running through my mind – especially the tough times bit – that reminded me of an age-old idiom “Every black cloud has a silver lining“.
I dont want – or intend – to sermonize; so let me get straight to the point: there is a clearly definable silver line that has now appeared for the ruling party. From the UPA-II point of view, the important points are:
- Indian Economy in trouble
- Public up in arms against just about every move the government makes
- All time low confidence levels in government
- World Economy teetering
- Political equations in a fluid state
- Mulayam Factor
- BJP in disarray as well
It is an environment that is fraught with challenges, dangers for anyone in the seat. And that means, it will take a very brave person indeed to take the risk of sitting on the seat in such times – and run the inadvertant risk of sharing the blame…
The second point is the fluidity in the overall political scenario and the Mulayam factor, which gives a bit of breathing space for the UPA government. The 3rd factor is the problems in the opposition. Put all these together, and the result is a very high degree of certainty that UPA-II might just last the full term. And that brings me to the silver lining!
The silver lining in quite simply the freedom it can afford the powers that be to take some badly needed structural corrections in the systems – as no one is in a situation to take advantage of it. Secondly, even if the opposition sort their house, the chances are very high indeed that they will let UPA-II handle this mess, and wait for 2014! That being the case, the reforms – if they are pushed through – can just turn things around. They have just taken one courageous decision in petrol – they can do more, if only they show the will and the attitude. They have been placed in a unique position – one which affords them the leeway to take tough calls. Yes, it is a 2-edged sword, no doubt, the risk is there that some partner might jerk the rug – but the opportunity is there. and the chances are the allies will scream and shout, but actually do nothing. I agree that Petrol is perhaps the simplest of the decisions to take, as vested interests are not stoked – or identified party positions are not challenged; vote banks are not threatened too much. So everyone makes a hue and cry, but does nothing!
The other steps might not be so simple… but the UPA-II is now undeniably in a position to take some calls… now if only it does do precisely that!