From Facebook 23 May 2013
Friday June 15, 1973, my father’s diary records he gave a dinner-party at our then-Paris residence for “MGK” (MG Kaul, ICS, his good buddy and the one-time boss of Dr Manmohan Singh), “KB Lall”, “Amb” (D.N.Chatterjee), “Dr Manmohan Singh”, “RamaKrishnan”, and “Shroff”…. It may have been the next day, Saturday, that my father returned from the office with Manmohan Singh to advise me about economics, before I embarked on my undergraduate studies at the London School of Economics a few months later… Dr Singh (then in his early 40s) and I (then 18) spent about 40 minutes together alone in what became a heated debate about the influence of the USSR on Indian economic planning, he arguing in favour and me arguing, rather vehemently, against… At its end he said he would be sending a letter to me addressed to his friend Amartya Sen, then Professor at the London School of Economics, introducing me; the letter was, as I recall, ambiguous at best, harsh at worst, and I had not wished to carry it by hand but my father insisted I do… I rather wish I had kept a copy but there were no xerox machines around back then… Of course my Cambridge doctoral thesis some years later came to take a very different perspective on India than the economics of Manmohan Singh and Amartya Sen…
From Facebook, 23 May2013
“Go, go, go, said the bird: human kind
Cannot bear very much reality….”
Certainly Indian politics, and the Government party in particular, cannot bear very much reality…
From Facebook, 12 May 2013
The saddest thing about Manmohan Singh qua statesman was simply that he quietly loved and rewarded well the sycophancy around him, and believed the myths and propaganda and general fiction created by his flatterers about his own purported achievements as an economic policy-maker since 1991. Politically, his role as nominal leader of the country and his party is now fatally wounded with the forced resignations on grounds of corruption or impropriety of two of his most sycophantic proteges (both of whom were most keen to be photographed with him as he walked to or fro, and one of whom invariably held his own hands together like a schoolgirl while walking alongside him as a superfluous mark of submissiveness)… The best thing his party can do now for itself is to get him to not be a nominee, again, for a Rajya Sabha seat from Assam (yes Assam, a state well-known for its Punjabi culture) and to get Sonia Gandhi herself to be PM to lead it into the 2014 elections… Sonia in 2013 is politically not the same as Sonia in 2004…
I should say, again, as I have said before that there is nothing personal in my critical assessment of Dr Singh’s economics and politics. To the contrary, he has been in decades past a friend or at least a colleague of my father’s, and in the autumn of 1973 visited our then-home in Paris at the request of my father to advise me, then aged 18, before I embarked on my undergraduate studies at the London School of Economics. My assessments in recent years like “The Politics of Dr Singh” or “Assessing Manmohan” etc need to be seen along with my “Assessing Vajpayee: Hindutva True and False”, “The Hypocrisy of the CPI-M”, “Against Quackery”, “Our Dismal Politics”, “Political Paralysis” etc. (Also “Mistaken Macroeconomics”, June 2009). Nothing personal is intended in any of these; the purpose at hand has been to contribute to a full and vigorous discussion of the public interest in India….
From Facebook 1 May 2013
from C.G. Somiah’s *The Honest Always Stands Alone* (Niyogi Books): “In the next meeting of the Planning Commission, the soft-spoken Dr Singh deliberated at length on the negative economic indicators prevalent in the country, which could not be ignored for providing relief in any future plan. The Prime Minister was not impressed and made some hurtful derogatory remarks about Dr Singh’s presentation. He then turned to the other members for comments but none of them had the courage to speak up. He finally turned to me and said sarcastically, ‘Let us hear what the Secretary has to say about the approach to the plan.’……A few days later the Prime Minister shared his thoughts with journalists, calling us a ‘bunch of jokers’ who were bereft of any modern ideas of development. When this news made headlines in the newspapers, Dr Singh, emerging out of an urgent meeting with the other members, called me to his office. He looked distraught and terribly upset with the Prime Minister’s remarks. He told me that he was tendering his resignation as he seems to have lost the confidence of the Prime Minister. I sat with him for nearly an hour and told him not to take the extreme step and blamed the Prime Minister’s ignorance for this behaviour. I further advised that since the Prime Minister was young and inexperienced, it was our duty to educate him rather than abandon him…. “
– Manmohan traipsed off to join Nyerere’s “South South” project in 1987 and was not physically in India when I on 18 Sep 1990 gave Rajiv the results of the perestroika-for -India project that I had led at the Univ of Hawaii since 1986… Manmohan’s name was not mentioned again until 22March 1991 when MK Rasgotra challenged the proposals that I had written for Rajiv (in Rajiv’s absence) wanting to know what Manmohan Singh would make of them…
“The next day, Friday March 22, I worked from dawn to get the penultimate draft to Krishna Rao before noon as planned the night before. Rasgotra arrived shortly, and the three of us worked until evening to finish the job. I left for an hour to print out copies for a meeting of the entire group, where the draft we were going to submit would come to be decided. When I got back I found Rasgotra had launched an extended and quite unexpected attack on what had been written on economic policy. Would someone like Manmohan Singh, Rasgotra wanted to know, agree with all this talk we were putting in about liberalization and industrial efficiency? I replied I did not know what Manmohan Singh’s response would be but I knew he had been in Africa heading something called the South-South Commission for Julius Nyrere of Tanzania. I said what was needed was a clear forceful statement designed to restore India’s credit-worthiness, and the confidence of international markets. I said that the sort of thing we should aim for was to make clear, e.g. to the IMF’s man in Delhi when that person read the manifesto, that the Congress Party at least knew its economics and was planning to make bold new steps in the direction of progress. I had argued the night before with Rasgotra that on foreign policy we should “go bilateral” with good strong ties with individual countries, and drop all the multilateral hogwash. But I did not wish to enter into a fight on foreign policy which he was writing, so long as the economic policy was left the way we said. Krishnamurty, Khusro and Pitroda came to my defence saying the draft we had done greatly improved on the March 18 draft. For a bare half hour or so with all of us present, the draft was agreed upon. Later that night at Andhra Bhavan, I gave Krishna Rao the final copy of the draft manifesto which he was going to give Narasimha Rao the next day, and sent a copy to Krishnamurty who was liaising with Pranab Mukherjee. Pitroda got a copy on a floppy disc the next day for Solanki.”
Ragini Bhuyan asked me “You mentioned that Milton Friedman in 1955 had proposed a convertible currency for India on the lines of the Canadian currency. Why was this suppressed by the GoI?”
“The ideology of India’s economists was one of Sovietesque pseudo-socialism and that has remained the ideology of many. Discussing Milton’s memorandum at the time would have exploded that, which is what I ended up doing decades later. Rajiv Gandhi agreed with me. Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh apparently do not.”
From Facebook 5 February 2013:
Subroto Roy reads “The sense of importance is familiar territory for someone who is remembered as one of the posterboys of economic reforms of 1991. Together with boss and mentor Manmohan Singh, then the country’s finance minister, Ahluwalia and a team of bureaucrats plotted and executed the dismantling of the licence permit raj and the liberalisation of the Indian economy. Immortalised by their trademark light blue turbans, the senior Singh dreamt up the big changes while Ahluwalia and the other officials worked out the policy nuts and bolts and explained them to the world”
“the senior Singh dreamt up the big changes”?
Nope. He did not. ** He was out of the loop** and had nothing to do with originating the 1991 reform when I gave Rajiv Gandhi the results of the UH-Manoa perestroika-for-India project that I had led since 1986… The pink business newspapers, the comprador media, and other vested interests have created a fiction, now exposed…
Do you see Manmohan Singh or Montek Ahluwalia in the photograph? Probably not as they were not there. They, after all, represented the system we were trying to reform!
From Facebook 21 January 2013
Subroto Roy reads Rahul Gandhi to have said yesterday
“And it’s an honour that Manmohan Singhji is sitting here because he spearheaded another revolution. In 1991, he unleashed the voice of thousands in the field of entrepreneurship and changed this country forever”
Manmohan Singh had nothing to do with originating the 1991 economic reform. To the contrary, he represented the system we were seeking to reform! He has not claimed to have done anything himself but he has allowed others to do so on his behalf. It is a flattering fiction, though an explicable one as it allows facades to be created in the media behind which real economic and political forces may work as normal, specifically, Russian and European weapons’ merchants.
From Facebook 17 Dec 2012
Facebook March 26 2011
Mr Chidambaram knows better than that!
by Subroto Roy
I remain amused by the powers-that-be in Delhi continuing to attempt to deny me credit for the origins of the 1991 economic reform based on the UH-Manoa perestroika-for-India project I had led 1986-1992, and the results of which I brought with me to my first meeting with Rajiv Gandhi on September 18 1990.
After almost a decade of relentless pressure from me for the truth to be told, Rajiv’s widow on December 28 2009 finally admitted her late husband “left his personal imprint on the (Congress) party’s manifesto of 1991″.
Now yesterday, March 25 2011, Mr Chidambaram has admitted “The Congress manifesto prepared for the general elections in 1991 did talk about an agenda of reforms but with the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, there was no certainty that these would have remained on the agenda”.
Well, Mr Chidambaram, you know better than that! Did you not yourself say in Tokyo in April 1993 that the reform “was not miraculous” but based on “rewriting of the Congress manifesto while in Opposition. We were ready when we came back to power in 1991″? (And as for those two former World Bank types with you on the podium yesterday, one was out of the country and cannot possibly claim to have been part of anything, though he had begged me to come to Hawaii and I had said sorry, no; the other, well, perhaps the less said about his capacity for self-delusion the better for India (though his shift from Sovietism to Americanism and his power to waffle endlessly on TV etc is a true bureaucratic marvel). The third man on the podium with you was someone I had tried hard to get to come to Hawaii, upon recommendation of Sukhamoy Chakravarty; but he could not make it; he though has inevitably lost his way for some years now with his wish to stay in Delhi much longer than he should ever have done.)
The simple truth is very simple: the positive change in direction of the Congress Party’s economic and other thinking occurred due to the Congress President’s meeting with me on September 18 1990, where I gave him the perestroika-for-India project results and advised him to look to the future and write a fresh and modern manifesto. He agreed with his actions the following week, and subsequently, viz., Rajiv Gandhi and the Origins of India’s 1991 Economic Reform. Later, after his assassination, against which I had warned, the process came to be taken over by the greedy and the mendacious (specifically, organised big business lobbies, big bureaucrats and politicians, Soviet sleeper agents etc). So the truth got lost and has had to be reconstructed slowly.
(And puleaaase, baba, Manmohan Singh or any of his acolytes had nothing to do with it! Not in the loop! After all, if they had had the creativity and economic knowledge and intellectual honesty and courage, during all their years and decades in the Government of India and sundry international bureaucracies, to do what we did, they would and should have done it! But there is just no evidence that they did, sorry baba! Time almost to say Uff!)
My colleague Ted James who with me led the Hawaii projects said of it in January 2010 a few months before he tragically died: “Seldom are significant reforms imposed successfully by international bureaucracies. Most often they are the result of indigenous actors motivated by domestic imperatives. I believe this was the case in India in 1991. It may have been fortuitous that Dr. Roy gained an audience with a receptive Rajiv Gandhi in 1990 but it was not luck that he was prepared with a well-thought out program; this arose from years of careful thought and debate on the matter.”
Why all this is important is not because I want a national award and due recognition etc, which I won’t of course mind getting, but because Dr Singh, Mr Chidambaram et al (as well as all the BJP and CPI-M etc people in Delhi too) have rather ruined the fisc, the currency and the exchanges…. It may be hopeless….
From Facebook December 20 2010
Subroto Roy is glad to hear today, for the first time, Dr Manmohan Singh explicitly praise Rajiv Gandhi for chalking out the roadmap of the 1991 economic reform, as Rajiv did thanks to his encounter with the UH-Manoa project I had led since 1986. At last year’s Congress Party meet, Sonia Gandhi for the first time on Dec 28 2009 said Rajiv “left his personal imprint on the (Congress) party’s manifesto of 1991″. Better late than never.
From Facebook Sep 20 2010
Subroto Roy notes the 20th anniversary just passed over the weekend of Rajiv Gandhi’s encounter with the UH-Manoa peresteroika-for-India project that I had led. On Sep 18 1990, when Rajiv and I first met, Dr Manmohan Singh was not physically in India, ending his final assignment before retirement with Julius Nyerere of Tanzania. Of the others whom Rajiv appointed along with myself as advisers a week later on Sep 25 1990, at least one has recently proved to be mendacious in print — stating Manmohan Singh and not I was in the group that got created on Sep 25 following my single meeting with Rajiv on Sep 18! — and I had to expose the mendacity; he has not sued me for calling him a liar because, of course, truth is a first and full defence against a charge of defamation!
National policy should not float on self-delusion and flattery and myth and mendacity — or grave problems like Kashmir and macroeconomic inflation are the inevitable result.
I have met Mrs Sonia Gandhi once in December 1991 when I gave her a tape of her husband’s conversations with me during the Gulf War; she later in 2001 was kind enough to write acknowledging receipt of an earlier draft of this story.
From Facebook June 26 2010:
Subroto Roy reads yet another of New Delhi’s economic bluff-masters say in today’s pink business newspaper: “The architect of reforms in 1991 was… Manmohan Singh”. Manmohan is on record himself that he had nothing to do with it, & all the bluff-masters know for a fact but cannot admit it happened due to my encounter with Rajiv Gandhi beginning Sep 18 1990 when I gave him the results of the UH Manoa project I had led since 1986.
(Subroto Roy notes that this particular bluff-master is yet another who calls himself a Dr but cannot recall or state where his PhD is from or what if anything his dissertation was about. The stench of intellectual fraud from purported economists in New Delhi continues to keep me as nauseated as a pregnant Johanna Van Beethoven.)
Subroto Roy has great sympathy for the people who were made to officially disappear by Stalin – and suggests that even today old Stalinist habits die hard in countries where there has been no liberal revolution against them.
Subroto Roy is amused to read in the pink business papers this morning more self-serving fabrication emerge out of New Delhi’s vapid formerly Stalinist bureaucrats about what happened in 1990-91. And says he must dig out those old Stalinist photos which rubbed out Trotsky from standing beside Lenin! Hey Trotsky, I need some advice, man! Please channel…
Subroto Roy finally declares, on the basis of what Dr Manmohan Singh’s chief aide Chief Acolyte said yesterday as quoted in the pink business papers today, that there has been a systematic attempt at a Stalinist falsification of history in New Delhi as to what happened between September 18 1990 and March 23 1991 with respect to the prospective economic policy-making of the Congress Government following the 1991 election. The falsification has failed and is destined to fail further.
Subroto Roy needs to channel Trotsky: “Leon Trotsky was a close friend of Lenin, and shared his idealistic ideas about the communist state. In the following photographs he canbe seen together with Lenin. The next set of images are nearly identical,however Trotsky is removed from both photographs. The historical reason for this alteration is that Stalin eventually began to see Trotsky as a threat and labeled him an “enemy of the people”. After he was deported from the Soviet Union in 1929, Trotsky criticized Stalin’s leadership, arguing that the dictatorship Stalin exercised was based on his own interests, rather than those of the people. This contributed substantially to Trotsky’s removal from photographs and history.”
Sonia’s Lying Courtier (with Postscript) November 25, 2007
Two Sundays ago in an English-language Indian newspaper, an elderly man in his 80s, advertised as being “the Gandhi family’s favourite technocrat” published some deliberate falsehoods about events in Delhi 17 years ago surrounding Rajiv Gandhi’s last months. I wrote at once to the man, let me call him Mr C, asking him to correct the falsehoods since, after all, it was possible he had stated them inadvertently or thoughtlessly or through faulty memory. He did not do so. I then wrote to a friend of his, a Congress Party MP from his State, who should be expected to know the truth, and I suggested to him that he intercede with his friend to make the corrections, since I did not wish, if at all possible, to be compelled to call an elderly man a liar in public.
That did not happen either and hence I am, with sadness and regret, compelled to call Mr C a liar.
The newspaper article reported that Mr C’s “relationship with Rajiv (Gandhi) would become closer when (Rajiv) was out of power” and that Mr C “was part of a group that brainstormed with Rajiv every day on a different subject”. Mr C has reportedly said Rajiv’s “learning period came after he left his job” as PM, and “the others (in the group)” were Mr A, Mr B, Mr D, Mr E “*and Manmohan Singh*” (italics added).
In reality, Mr C was a retired pro-USSR bureaucrat aged in his late 60s in September 1990 when Rajiv Gandhi was Leader of the Opposition and Congress President. Manmohan Singh was an about-to-retire bureaucrat who in September 1990 was not physically present in India, having been working for Julius Nyerere of Tanzania for several years.
On 18 September 1990, upon recommendation of Siddhartha Shankar Ray, Rajiv Gandhi met me at 10 Janpath, where I handed him a copy of the unpublished results of an academic “perestroika-for-India” project I had led at the University if Hawaii since 1986. The story of that encounter has been told first on July 31-August 2 1991 in The Statesman, then in the October 2001 issue of Freedom First, then in January 6-8 2006, September 23-24 2007 in The Statesman, and most recently in The Statesman Festival Volume 2007. The last of these speaks most fully yet of my warnings against Rajiv’s vulnerability to assassination; this document in unpublished form was sent by me to Rajiv’s friend, Mr Suman Dubey in July 2005, who forwarded it with my permission to the family of Rajiv Gandhi.
It was at the 18 September 1990 meeting that I suggested to Rajiv that he should plan to have a modern election manifesto written. The next day, 19 September, I was asked by Rajiv’s assistant V George to stay in Delhi for a few days as Mr Gandhi wished me to meet some people. I was not told whom I was to meet but that there would be a meeting on Monday, 24th September. On Saturday, the Monday meeting was postponed to Tuesday 25th September because one of the persons had not been able to get a flight into Delhi. I pressed to know what was going on, and was told I would meet Mr A, Mr B, Mr C and Mr D. It turned out later Mr A was the person who could not fly in from Hyderabad.
The group (excluding Mr B who failed to turn up because his servant had failed to give him the right message) met Rajiv at 10 Janpath in the afternoon of 25th September. We were asked by Rajiv to draft technical aspects of a modern manifesto for an election that was to be expected in April 1991. The documents I had given Rajiv a week earlier were distributed to the group. The full story of what transpired has been told in my previous publications.
Mr C was ingratiating towards me after that first meeting with Rajiv and insisted on giving me a ride in his car which he told me was the very first Maruti ever manufactured. He flattered me needlessly by saying that my PhD (in economics from Cambridge University) was real whereas his own doctoral degree had been from a dubious management institute of the USSR. (Handling out such doctoral degrees was apparently a standard Soviet way of gaining influence.) Mr C has not stated in public how his claim to the title of “Dr” arises.
Following that 25 September 1990 meeting, Mr C did absolutely nothing for several months towards the purpose Rajiv had set us, stating he was very busy with private business in his home-state where he flew to immediately. Mr D went abroad and was later hit by severe illness. Mr B, Mr A and I met for luncheon at New Delhi’s Andhra Bhavan where the former explained how he had missed the initial meeting. Then Mr B said he was very busy with his house-construction, and Mr A said he was very busy with finishing a book for his publishers on Indian defence, and both begged off, like Mr C and Mr D, from any of the work that Rajiv had explicitly set our group. My work and meeting with Rajiv in October 1990 has been reported previously.
Mr C has not merely suppressed my name from the group in what he has published in the newspaper article two Sundays ago, he has stated he met Rajiv as part of such a group “every day on a different subject”, another falsehood. The next meeting of the group with Rajiv was in fact only in December 1990, when the Chandrashekhar Government was discussed. I was called by telephone in the USA by Rajiv’s assistant V George but I was unable to attend, and was briefed later about it by Mr A.
When new elections were finally announced in March 1991, Mr C brought in Mr E into the group in my absence (so he told me), perhaps in the hope I would remain absent. But I returned to Delhi and between March 18 1991 and March 22 1991, our group, including Mr E (who did have a genuine PhD), produced an agreed-upon document. That document was handed over by us together in a group to Rajiv Gandhi at 10 Janpath the next day, and also went to the official political manifesto committee of Narasimha Rao, Pranab Mukherjee and M. Solanki.
Our group, as appointed by Rajiv on 25 September 1990, came to an end with the submission of the desired document to Rajiv on 23 March 1991.
As for Manmohan Singh, contrary to Mr C’s falsehood, Manmohan Singh has himself truthfully said he was with the Nyerere project until November 1990, then joined Chandrashekhar’s PMO in December 1990 which he left in March 1991, that he had no meeting with Rajiv Gandhi prior to Rajiv’s assassination but rather did not in fact enter Indian politics at all until invited by Narasimha Rao several weeks later to be Finance Minister. In other words, Manmohan Singh himself is on record stating facts that demonstrate Mr C’s falsehood.
The economic policy sections of the document submitted to Rajiv on 23 March 1991 had been drafted largely by myself with support of Mr E and Mr D and Mr C as well. It was done over the objections of Mr B, who had challenged me by asking what Manmohan Singh would think of it. I had replied I had no idea what Manmohan Singh would think of it, saying I knew he had been out of the country on the Nyerere project for some years.
Mr C has deliberately excluded my name from the group and deliberately added Manmohan Singh’s instead. What explains this attempted falsification of facts – reminiscent of totalitarian practices in communist countries? Manmohan Singh was not involved by his own admission, and as Finance Minister told me so directly when he and I were introduced in Washington DC in September 1993 by Siddhartha Shankar Ray, then Indian Ambassador to the USA.
A possible explanation for Mr C’s mendacity is as follows: I have been recently publishing the fact that I repeatedly pleaded warnings that I (even as a layman on security issues) perceived Rajiv Gandhi to have been insecure and vulnerable to assassination. Mr C, Mr B and Mr A were among the main recipients of my warnings and my advice as to what we as a group, appointed by Rajiv, should have done towards protecting Rajiv better. They did nothing — though each of them was a senior man then aged in his late 60s at the time and fully familiar with Delhi’s workings while I was a 35 year old newcomer. After Rajiv was assassinated, I was disgusted with what I had seen of the Congress Party and Delhi, and did not return except to meet Rajiv’s widow once in December 1991 to give her a copy of a tape in which her late husband’s voice was recorded in conversations with me during the Gulf War.
Mr C has inveigled himself into Sonia Gandhi’s coterie – while Manmohan Singh went from being mentioned in our group by Mr B to becoming Narasimha Rao’s Finance Minister and Sonia Gandhi’s Prime Minister. If Rajiv had not been assassinated, Sonia Gandhi would have been merely a happy grandmother today and not India’s purported ruler. India would also have likely not have been the macroeconomic and political mess that the mendacious people around Sonia Gandhi like Mr C have now led it towards.
POSTSCRIPT: The Congress MP was kind enough to write in shortly afterwards; he confirmed he “recognize(d) that Rajivji did indeed consult you in 1990-1991 about the future direction of economic policy.” A truth is told and, furthermore, the set of genuine Rajivists in the present Congress Party is identified as non-null.
Subroto Roy… reads Manmohan Singh’s Media-Flatterer-in-Chief (as opposed to the Chief Acolyte) claim in the pink business newspaper today that a young Dr Singh in 1974-5 had “crafted” a “strategy” to reduce India’s “hyperinflation” and purportedly won Indira Gandhi’s praise & confidence. Sheer nonsense I am afraid. There was no “hyperinflation” at the time in India, only a massive readjustment of relative prices caused by the first oil shock & a lot of “repressed inflation” typical of controlled economies. People like LK Jha & PN Dhar (if memory serves rightly) were the key economic decision-makers, not Dr Singh. The “strategy” was one of “forced saving” and price-controls (i.e., almost no “strategy” at all). And the data show it did not work! Look up *Indian Economic Journal*, Special No in Monetary Economics Oct-Dec 1975, especially the keynote address by my great professor, Frank Hahn, titled “Money and General Equilibrium”, republished in *Money, Growth and Stability* (MIT 1984)…