Saturday, September 22, 2012

Eighth Wonder: Manmohan Singh addresses the nation

The prime minister took the nation by surprise by addressing it on Doordarshan. Earlier he had said that his silence was meant to protect dignity of the questions (whatever it had meant). So dignity of the questions was ripped apart in a brief 15-minute talk.

"I would be failing in my duty if I do not carry the reforms forward like was done in the year 1991." It is great that he has realised his duty. If only he had realised it earlier, scams might not have devastated the country.

"The world is not kind to those who do not tackle their own problems." That is why he allowed his ministers to feather their own nests.

"Much of the diesel is used by big cars and SUVs owned by the rich and by factories and businesses. Should government run large fiscal deficits to subsidise them?" Very interesting 'eureka' moment! Why did it take so long for the illustrious economist to realise this?

"The decision on LPG was based on a study that almost half of our people , who need our help the most, actually use only 6 cylinders or less." Which study? The so-called finding is very cleverly worded. More than 40% of our people do not use LPG.  This 40% is included in "almost half of our people".

"Taxes on petrol were reduced for the crores of middle class people who drive (sic) scooters and motor cycles." But the net prices are retained. If the concern is real, tax-reduction would have been higher.

"In a growing economy, there is enough space for the big and small to grow. The fear that FDI in multi-brand retail would hit small traders is unwarranted." Nice to hear. Is retail a win-win game where every small trader can grow his business even if a big fish enters the fray? Walmart's retail sales in America is in excess of $1 billion every day. Such a big player may enter India and yet the economist-prime minister thinks this development will not affect small traders? We cannot have a more optimistic CEO for the nation.

The prime minister is confident that FDI in multi-brand retail will reduce prices for consumers and increase realisation for the farmers' produce. He stopped short of saying how much different ministers will gain.

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