From Facebook 14 August 2013
I see a very strange thing happening in Indian politics…
The Sonia-Manmohan Congress continues to be effectively silent in response to national event after national event, whether Uttarakhand or the PRC’s bullying or the Pakistanis and their friends testing Indian resolve…leave aside corruption, inflation, etc… Is this because of incompetence and institutional sclerosis in their decision-making processes? Probably. Except the Congress would like to say and would like people to believe it is because the mystical secrets of Indian governance are only known to their High Command and emerge only when the Oracle speaks… .
At the same time, the BJP is trying almost to do a George Soros sort of “Orange” campaign, designed and run by the spin doctors and modern political PR firms — probably with a few layabout rightwing US Republicans helping and the Overseas BJP playing a major role in the whole design from America and Britain. The BJP are starting to fall in line behind Narendra Modi but only under condition that Modi is not allowed to be himself, i.e. Modi must not be the “uncouth rabble-rouser” he has been in my words, but instead come across as a Churchillian, or rather Sardar Patelian, figure of masculine nationalism.
Both MK Gandhi and Sardar Patel have been nicely purloined by Modi, and the Sonia-Manmohan Congress — being run, after all by Sonia who had had no wish for the princely husband she met at a Cambridge restaurant when she had been a language-student in the town, let aside herself, to be in Indian politics, and Manmohan, whose disdain is now obvious for Parliament and politics and everything besides his personal bureaucratic career — has been clueless how to stop the theft of their political legacy.
The BJP wants to take everything of the Congress except Nehru, Indira (except in the 1971 war) and family. Of course they have a problem with me because they cannot teach me anything about Hinduism — *nothing* — either in theory or in practice (my father incidentally in 1947, helped save the Hindu Sindhis of Karachi, probably including LK Advani himself, and the man my father was reporting to was none other than Shyama Prasad Mookerjee, who was a family friend and a mentor of my father’s and also the Minister in charge of my father’s department) — and yet a few of them here and there want to mendaciously claim they were the original promoters of liberal economics in India, not myself and Rajiv Gandhi in 1990-1991. It won’t work. (For their information, I was invited by the Overseas BJP to give a Deendayal Upadhaya Memorial Lecture in Washington — back in 1984!, when of course I was clueless about Indian politics)…
The Rajiv Gandhi I knew had been enthused by me in 1990-1991 carrying the UH-Manoa perestroika-for-India project that I had led since 1986, and he had loved my advice to him on 18 Sep 1990 that he needed to modernise the party by preparing a coherent agenda (as other successful reformers had done) while still in Opposition waiting for elections — and to base the agenda on commitments to improving the judiciary and rule of law, stopping the debauching of money, and focusing on the provision of public goods instead.
**Rajiv I am sure wanted a *modern* and *modern-minded* Congress — not one which depended on him let aside his family, but one which *reduced* that dependence and let him and his family alone.**
Almost a quarter century later, the Sonia-Manmohan Congress (thanks I believe to a sleeper agent here or there) not only preserved but worsened the status-quo while we have the BJP hiding its past and trying to make itself over as some sort of modern conservative party. What worried the sleeper agent(s) and the vested bureaucratic and business interests was that they could see change coming but wanted to be able to control it themselves to their advantage, which they then of course proceeded to do over the next two decades. The foreign weapons’ contracts and other big-ticket imports India ends up buying needlessly had to be preserved.
Both sides now, Congress and BJP, as well as everyone else in Indian politics need to remember Blake: “Truth can never be told so as to be understood and not be believed.”
I am asked “So where are we going? What should we be doing Mr. Roy?” and say this
2. I would explain the *utterly dismal* state of public finances clearly — across all State budgets, across the Union budget etc, and the risk of monetary collapse…
3. I would propose Parliament decree there be no elections in 2014, or whether there are or whether there are not, then a National Government arise, presided over by the President, with a fair and reasonable distribution of portfolios, for a period of, say, three or even five years, along with a “Financial Emergency” (whether that is declared formally or not).
4. During this time, the following is done:
A. There are *system-wide* improvements in public finance and accounting using modern information technology to comprehend government liabilities and expenditures and raise their productivity,
B. There are institutional changes in public decision-making like separating banking and central banking from the Treasury while making the planning function serve the Treasury function rather than pretend to be above it.
C. State legislatures come to be reliably informed about the state of their own States.
The aim would be to bring some semblance of integrity to the national currency, both domestically and externally. The road described is long and arduous but at its end both corruption and inflation will have been reduced to minimal levels, and the rupee would have acquired integrity enough to become a hard currency of the world in the sense the average resident of, say, rural Madhya Pradesh or Mizoram may freely convert rupees and hold or trade foreign currencies or precious metals as he/she pleases.
5. At the end of the National Government period, once the public finances are cleaned up permanently across the country and the debauching of money is stopped, there are new elections and a normal democratic process is resumed.
It is perhaps a bit like saying we have to change all the machinery in a moving train while it is moving in order to prevent ending up in a crash; better to stop, pause, calmly and scientifically do some critical essential maintenance, and then, when the machinery is working again, get going more surely. Here is an example:
This is the way India’s complex state and Union public finance are *supposed* to look — but they don’t…and won’t, until and unless I, all alone, happen to make them… For some 16 years, from when I first became Professor at IIT Kgp in September 1996, I have had zero support — no secretary, no research funding, nothing, except a little volunteer work here and there, to try to start to get things into shape… a project proposal I put to the World Bank in Washington in 1997 — got stolen by World Bank officials! —-
The above is a sketch of how to go about doing the accounts with India’s state level public finances (and the states have something like 60 million people on average…)… Here is analysis at a more detailed level… and it can get more detailed still…(But the Government and its apologists would not know or want to know where to begin…)
From Facebook 14 August 2013
From Facebook 26 July 2013
From Facebook 26 July 2013
Subroto Roy finds a young Indian gassing about Hayek at last, and sends him Hayek’s 1981 letter to a different young Indian…
From Facebook 25 July 2013
I have been very critical of Amartya Sen in recent days but am completely in agreement with him about the unsuitability of Modi whom I have called an “uncouth rabble-rouser”, predicting he will lead the BJP to certain defeat (a small sad minority in the next Parliament)…
The BJP man who gassed about stripping Amartya of the Bharat Ratna seems to have his brain lost somewhere in his innards… What the BJP have done by falling in line behind Modi is allow the Congress a walkover despite their dreadful (Amartya Senian) economics…
From Facebook 25 July 2013
“I’m not going to vote for Modi, I have no particular affection for him, but I have no particular affection for Rahul Gandhi either”, says Jagdish Bhagwati. I am glad to hear this as Jagdish, having become a US citizen in the mid 1990s as I recall, can’t legally vote in Indian elections anyway as far as I know…
From Facebook 24 July 2013
“… What India’s polity needs is to acquire a common understanding of just how dismal the state-level and Union-level fiscal and hence monetary situations are, and to proceed accordingly, in a scientifically honest spirit, in the manner I outlined in my 3 December 2012 Delhi lecture….”
From Facebook 24 July 2013
On Some Puzzlement at Amartya Sen’s Disclaimer of Academic and Political Paternity of the “Food Security Bill” and Claims to Paternity of “Asian Economic Development” and “Human Capital”….
I am terribly sorry, besides being utterly puzzled, to find Amartya Sen **disclaiming** paternity of the whole so-called “Food Security Bill”:
“Questioner: You are being called the creator of the Food Security Bill.
Amartya Sen: Yes, I don’t know why. That is indeed a paternity suit I’m currently fighting. People are accusing me of being the father”
which he and his acolyte and their friends **did** father while claiming paternity of areas of research he did not, e.g.
1) “Asian Economic Development” [“unlike the process of development in Japan, China, Korea and other countries, which pursued **what Jean Drèze and I have called “Asian economic development” in our book**..."] — neither he nor his acolyte fathered this in 2013, it was in fact a vast area of economic research — in the 1980s!
2) “Human capital” theory… Do you see any reference to T.W. Schultz’s 1960 American Economic Association Presidential Address or his 1979 Bank of Sweden Prize address in this 1997 survey titled *Human Capital and Human Capability” by Professor Amartya Sen in *World Development* Vol. 25, No. 12, pp. 1959-1961, 1997, the year before his 1998 Bank of Sweden Prize? I do not. If one did not know better, one might have thought from it there was nothing done in economics (worth talking about) on the subject of “human capital” from the time of Adam Smith and David Hume until Amartya Sen…
From Facebook 22 July 2013
I find the current spat between Jagdish Bhagwati of Columbia and Amartya Sen of Harvard (leave aside their respective acolytes who would not be known but for their mentors) over India’s political economy to be rather dismal, unproductive and yes, unacademic, even possibly academically dishonest.
Both were in their mid 50s and, along with TN Srinivasan at Yale, the three senior-most Indians in US academic economics when I and Ted James, in our early 30s, initiated and led the University of Hawaii perestroika-for-India project in the mid 1980s. (Bhagwati stopped being an Indian and became a US national in the following decade, I was told.) We invited both to Hawaii but deliberately did so very late in the day knowing they would decline, which is what they did; we did not want either to come in and be the “star” who ended up hogging the microphone or the limelight especially as neither was known for work in the areas we were interested in, namely, India’s macroeconomic and foreign trade framework and fiscal and monetary policies.
Bhagwati, after his excellent work with Padma Desai on India in 1966, co-authored a fine 1975 work with TN Srinivasan *Foreign Trade Regimes and Economic Development: India* and that was what made us want to invite TN as one of our main economic authors, charged with writing the excellent chapter that he did titled “Planning and Foreign Trade Reconsidered”. The other main economics author we hoped for was Sukhamoy Chakravarty from New Delhi, but despite my pleading he would not come due to ill health; he recommended C. Rangarajan, telling me Rangarajan had been the main author with him of the critical 1985 RBI report on monetary policy, Rangarajan said he could not come and recommended Amaresh Bagchi, promising to write jointly with him, so Amaresh came and authored a chapter on monetary policy and public finance. Along with Milton Friedman’s suppressed 1955 memorandum which I was publishing for the first time in 1989, TN and Amaresh authored the main economics’ chapters we wanted.
Amartya Sen and I go back, momentarily, to Hindustan Park in 1964 when there was a faint connection as family friends from World War II, and then he later knew me cursorily when I was an undergraduate at LSE and he was already a famous professor — and I greatly enjoyed his excellent lectures at the LSE on his fine book *On Economic Inequality*, and a few years later he wrote in tangential support of me at Cambridge for which he was thanked in the preface to my 1989 *Philosophy of Economics*, and also wrote me nice handwritten letters, some pages of which remain with me, in which I recall him expressing his scepticism of what I had simply called ‘price theory’, namely the Marshallian and/or Walrasian theory of value. We met briefly in 1978, and then again in 2006 when I was asked to talk to him in our philosophical conversation which came to be published nicely. In 2006, I told him of my whole 1990-1991 Rajiv Gandhi experience in initiating what became the 1991 reform on the basis of my giving Rajiv the results of the Hawaii project, and Amartya was kind enough to say that he knew I had been arguing all this “very early on”, referring presumably to the 1984 London Times editorial.
As for Bhagwati, he received a copy of the proofs of the 1984 work just before it was published and was kind enough to write I had “done an excellent job of setting out the problems afflicting our economic policies, unfortunately government-made problems!” We never met except accidentally for a long conversation on the sofas in the foyer of the IMF in Washington when I was a consultant there in 1993 and he had come to see someone; he was surprisingly knowledgeable about my personal 1990 matter in the Supreme Court of India which astonished me until he told me his brother the Supreme Court judge had mentioned the case to him!
Why I find the current Bhagwati-Sen spat rather pathetic is because it seems based on ignorance of Indian macroeconomic facts and the best of Indian monetary and fiscal analysis whether at Union or provincial levels.
I have been harsh with Amartya for saying “unlike the process of development in Japan, China, Korea and other countries, which pursued what Jean Drèze and I have called “Asian economic development” in our book, India has not had enough focus on public spending on school education and basic healthcare, which these other countries have had…” — saying he seems ignorant of all the work in the 1980s on “Asian Economic Development” and have added “Is he reinventing the wheel again with “Asian Economic Development” being claimed to be invented by him and his acolyte? Oh please! Just as he reinvented “human capital” theory decades after TW Schultz’s 1960 American Economic Association Presidential Address and 1979 Bank of Sweden Prize…?”
I have to be equally harsh with Bhagwati if he has been extolling a so-called ‘Gujarat Model’ over a so-called ‘Kerala Model’ — it is all misleading nonsense, there is no such thing, Gujarat and Kerala are both states of India using the same debauched currency and contributing in no discernibly different way to that process of debauching the currency. Can Ahmedabad city or Trivandrum city raise any municipal bonds in any world capital markets freely? Of course they cannot (though I think the former might have tried or at least gassed about it once). That is the question where Bhagwati and his acolyte needed to start but of course they did not — although he has known fully of my work and his acolyte even went about praising Milton’s 1955 memorandum at one point, perhaps wishing that he and not I had in fact published it. (As for Milton himself, he met the Chief Economist of the Tatas about April 1989 at Hoover I think, and the latter told me after the meeting that Milton had said “the only Indian economist he knew was Suby Roy”.)
Why all this has any significance at all is because the Indian press are making out the Bhagwati-Sen spat to reflect a BJP-Congress or Narendra Modi-Rahul Gandhi spat. Perhaps it does, but if so that makes it even more pathetic.
What India’s polity needs is to acquire a common understanding of just how dismal the state-level and Union-level fiscal and hence monetary situations are, and to proceed accordingly, in a scientifically honest spirit, in the manner I outlined in my 3 December 2012 Delhi lecture.
From Facebook 18 July 2013
What is Amartya Sen on about? He says
“First, unlike the process of development in Japan, China, Korea and other countries, which pursued what Jean Drèze and I have called “Asian economic development” in our book, India has not had enough focus on public spending on school education and basic healthcare, which these other countries have had….”
Sen and his acolyte called it “Asian Economic Development” in 2013?
Where have they been? My Hawaii colleagues, especially Ted James, and many many many others including especially Gerald M. Meier were publishing about all that every month — in the mid 1980s!
Everyone knows all that stuff from *a long time ago*! Where was Amartya Sen in the mid 1980s when all that was happening? (His acolyte was still a student perhaps).
Is he reinventing the wheel again with “Asian Economic Development” being claimed to be invented by him and his acolyte? Oh please!
Just as he reinvented “human capital” theory decades after TW Schultz’s 1960 American Economic Association Presidential Address and
1978 1979 Bank of Sweden Prize…?
Yes, it is true we did not invite Amartya, then at Harvard, to the UH Manoa India-Pakistan projects in 1989… (or rather we did invite him so late that we knew he would decline)…
From Facebook 18 July 2013
Subroto Roy reads “In his explanation for the Taliban’s actions, Adnan Rasheed references a British politician from the 1800s – Thomas Babington Macaulay. Macaulay was famous for wanting to impose an English education system on colonial India, to replace local languages like Hindi, Arabic and Persian and create what he described as a “class of interpreters…Indian in colour, English in tastes,” who would help impose British colonial rule on India”…
Hey, the Pakistan Taliban and India’s RSS/VHP have this in common: both hate “Macaulay’s children”! (And no, liberal secular Indian nationalists, or at least this one, are not Macaulayites)…
What Macaulay said to the House of Commons in 1833 was this: “It may be that the public mind of India may expand under our system till it has outgrown that system; that by good government we may educate our subjects into a capacity for better government; that having become instructed in European knowledge, they may, in some future stage, demand European institutions. Whether such a day will ever come I know not. But never will I attempt to avert or retard it. Whenever it comes, it will be the proudest day in English history.”…
To which I said in 1984: “Less than a hundred years later, in 1930-31, the Indian National Congress – to the considerable chagrin of the British Government – resolved to bring about an independent India in which every citizen would have the right to free speech, to profess and practise his faith freely, and to move and practise his profession anywhere in the country. There would be universal adult suffrage and no-one would be unjustly deprived of his liberty or have his property entered, sequestered or confiscated. In particular, all citizens in the future republic would be `equal before the law, irrespective of religion, caste, creed or sex’, and no disability would attach`to any citizen by reason of his or her religion, caste, creed or sex, in regard to public employment, office of power or honour, and in the exercise of any trade or calling’….”
From Facebook 17 July 2013
The totalitarianism of Indian politics, whether BJP or Congress or any of the political warlord/warlady strongman/stronglady parties..:
“Delhi BJP Vice President Aamir Raza Hussain has resigned from his post after his statement against Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi anguished the party leadership. In a letter to Delhi BJP President Vijay Goel, Husain said that he should not have made comments which could cause hurt to a senior leader of the party while holding an important post. Husain had yesterday told a newschannel that Muslims would prefer senior party leader L K Advani or Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj over Modi as the Prime Ministerial candidate. His intention was not to cause anguish against any leader and he has tendered his resignation from the post, Delhi BJP said in a statement….”
As for the “Left”, there is plenty of “inner party” criticism — as long as there is no change in the entrenched leadership.
From Facebook 10 July 2013
Reflections on the BJP, India, the Congress, 1990-1991 etc (Part I)
Had the BJP been a normal political party seeking to actually win power by winning the Median Voter in an Indian general election, Yashwant Sinha would have been the kind of person they would have promoted to lead them in 2014. He is well enough educated, with an MA in political science from Patna University, he had a good enough career in the IAS before he resigned and entered politics, and he has had more than average experience of senior cabinet posts in the Union Government. He crossed over from Chandrashekhar but would be seen by all as a secularist or at least as much of a secularist as may be found today in the BJP. Had the BJP been a normal political party, Yashwant Sinha would have been the kind of person they would have made leader.
But they have not and did not. They have gone with someone I have called, and consider to be, “an uncouth rabble-rouser” – though of course we should now expect, once Narendra Modi is official leader of the BJP, he is not going to be allowed to be himself, Modi is not going to be allowed to be the uncouth rabble-rouser of his speeches but will have to strictly obey the party’s ultra-modern spin doctors and speech-writers, as the BJP, with the backing of the snazzy jet-setting immigrants to the USA and UK who make up the “Overseas BJP”, tries to create a brand and image where Modi, far from being allowed to be Modi, instead becomes a unifying symbol to be portrayed to the outside world while behind the scenes there is endless internal conflict (i.e. a BJP version of the Congress’s Sonia).
Modi, I have said, will never lead India and the BJP has shot itself in the foot by choosing such a strategy – of seeking to galvanize its own cadre rather than trying to win the Median Voter of the Indian electorate! (Might I guess the “Overseas BJP” inventing this strategy are from the Republican Right in the USA? Since Obama beat Romney, they now need to try to use their theories in the Old Country.) Mr Advani, with his experience, sensed that Modi would lead the party he had built to an irrelevant small minority in Parliament, and he has not changed his mind while he watches how things pan out; Yashwant Sinha is right behind him, and doubtless, with his own prime ministerial ambitions compelled by his party to be frozen, would like a senior Cabinet position in any new BJP-led Government.
I have also said it remains to be seen whether Modi ends up being in fact a kind of Stalking-Horse candidate, who, when the mood makes it obvious he cannot lead India, offers instead to stand aside for Advani to be PM and says he will be happy with Home or Defence. Yashwant Sinha then might aspire for Finance and be happy enough to settle for it in the circumstances. All this comes to mind reading Yashwant Sinha’s criticism of Manmohan Singh in yesterday’s *Economic Times* and today’s *Business Standard* promoting his own purported credentials as a macroeconomic policy-maker and seeking to position himself as the BJP’s only coherent Finance man.
… to be continued…
From Facebook 9 July 2013
That the Sonia-Manmohan Government is clueless about economics and is subject at any given moment entirely to the pressure of this or that interest group is apparent from, not merely their ideas about depriving peasants of their land paying them paper money for it and distributing jobs and cereals to them instead, but from the idea that “captains of industry”, namely, Big Business and their friends Big Labour, have anything but commercial self-interest in mind when gassing about “growth”…
The news this morning says
“With economic growth remaining sluggish and rupee depreciating, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will have an interaction with the captains of industry later this month to discuss ways to boost industrial output and contain current account deficit (CAD).Singh will meet the leaders of the industry on July 29 to review the state of economy and work out steps to push growth. The discussions will cover measures to correct CAD and revive industrial growth, a PMO statement said Monday. The issue of depreciation of the rupee and its impact on trade and industry will also be discussed. The meeting assumes significance as the government has been concerned over the sluggish growth, high CAD and depreciating rupee.CAD last fiscal was 4.8 per cent and government intends to bring it down to 4.2 per cent this financial year. The slide in the value of rupee is another concern in the government. The rupee today fell to an all-time low of 61.19 against dollar.Singh will also discuss with the captains of the industry ways to accelerate skill development, besides development of Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC), Chennai-Bangalore Industrial Corridor (CBIC) and Amritsar-Delhi-Kolkata Industrial Corridor (ADKIC).Singh will meet the leaders of the industry a month after setting an investment target of Rs 1.15 lakh crore in PPP (public private partnership) projects across infrastructure sectors in rail, port and power in the next six months to pep up the investor.The meeting takes place at a difficult time with growth slumping to five percent, the lowest in a decade. Sluggish investments and industrial growth have been big drags on Asia’s third largest economy.Manufacturing sector expanded by a meagre 2.6 percent in the financial year 2012-13, according to the Central Statistics Office data.The Indian rupee has weakened by almost 10 percent this year and hit a record low of 61.21 against the dollar Monday.The current account deficit has hit a record 4.8 percent of gross domestic product in the fiscal year that ended March 31….”
Can the July 29 meeting not be predicted clearly? Importers will cry about rupee depreciation, so the Government will promise to look into it, at which Exporters will cry about possible rupee appreciation and ask for export subsidies and get them… and as for “reviving growth” there will be a lot of gas about “single window clearance”, “public private partnership” (i.e., legitimate looting), wicked environmentalists holding back industry, etc etc etc… It is all nonsense and will merely result in further subsidies and concessions from the impoverished Indian exchequer to the Fat Cats of Indian industry (dressed in their Armani as they might be these days…).
Here is what I said in October 2006:
“It is as fallacious to think private investment from foreign or domestic businessmen will support public “infrastructure” creation as it is to think foreign exchange reserves are like tax revenues in being available for Government expenditure on “infrastructure”. Such fallacies are intellectual products of either those who know no economics at all or those who have forgotten whatever little they might have been once mistaught in their youth. What serious economics does say is that Government should generally have nothing to do with any kind of private business, and instead should focus on properly providing public goods and services, encourage competition in all avenues of economic activity and prevent or regulate monopoly, and see to it all firms pay taxes they are due to pay.
That is it. It is as bad for Government to be pampering organised foreign or domestic business or organised labour with innumerable subsidies, as has been happening in India for decades, as it is to make enterprise difficult with red tape and hurdles. Businessmen are grown ups and should be allowed to freely risk their capital and make their profits or their losses without public intervention.
An economics-based policy would have single-mindedly sought to improve the financial condition of every governmental entity in the country, with the aim of improving the provision of public goods and services to all 1,000 million Indians. If and when budgets of all governmental entities become sound, foreign creditors would automatically line up before them with loans to sell, and ambitious development goals can be accomplished. As long as public budgets (and public accounts) remain in an outrageous shambles, nothing can be in fact achieved and only propaganda, corruption and paper-money creation results instead. Whatever economic growth does occur is due to new enterprise and normal technological progress, and is mostly despite and not because of New Delhi’s bureaucrats…”
From Facebook 6 July 2013
Will Manmohan Singh resign his Rajya Sabha seat if he and Sonia lead the Congress into defeat in 2014? Or will he remain there quietly until 2018 waiting for a Bharat Ratna perhaps? Or will he perhaps push off to some kind of foreign academic or UN assignment that can be found for him by his friends at his age?
The peculiar thing the Congress has caused is that they have a PM who has no personal political stake in the longevity, or really the performance, of the Government. Yet there is always rationality, always an explanation!
What explains the Congress clinging to Rajiv Gandhi’s family for unity after Rajiv’s assassination?
Sonia had had no wish to be in Indian politics, in fact she had no wish that Rajiv himself be in Indian politics. I am pretty sure Rajiv would *not* have wished to see her or their children in Indian politics: what, from my personal experience with him, he wished instead to see was the Congress party becoming a modern and modern-minded party, institutionally able to stand up on its own without help from his family. What explains the Congress clinging to Rajiv Gandhi’s family for unity after Rajiv’s assassination? And also Sonia agreeing to play the role?
There is an explanation! And it is related to the explanation of why Manmohan Singh was put forward to Sonia — who did not know him otherwise (if anyone recalls, Manmohan as Finance Minister in the middle of 1991 donated some stupendous sum like Rs 100 cr of government money to the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, which Sonia, in her mourning, rightly rejected as I recall…)…
Let me hasten to add that I do not think the BJP will win if I say the Congress may lose: I have already said Narendra Modi will never lead India and the BJP has shot itself in the foot again even before they start.
Whom do I think will rule India in 2014 at the rate things are going?
Why, the President of India of course… (and in his favour I will say he is a nationalist, a secularist, and an intelligent and well-experienced man, still open to learning…)
From Facebook 5 July 2013
The Sonia-Manmohan policy (endorsed by Amartya Sen and initiated by his friends) misnamed the “Food Security Bill” which has been today pushed through as an Ordnance, is hopelessly bad economics, probably without precedent in known economic history. The Sonia Congress seems to have well and truly regressed to an attempted Indira “populist” mode of the 1970s — which may not surprise, given that a Sanjay stalwart is now placed as Sonia’s Gatekeeper. But what should also not surprise is if the whole thing backfires badly on the Congress: India’s voters have become matured and enlightened and well-informed in the new information age, and are hardly the malleable masses of past decades: if they sense the whole thing amounts to a vast political gimmick or worse that causes massive dislocations and more inflation, Congress’s policy-credibility will be merely further shot through (which is a pity since the Opposition are only worse)…
From Facebook 5 July 2013
Was Ishrat Jahan a terrorist? Almost certainly not. Was she in the company of terrorists sent by Pakistan’s LeT? Probably. Did she know she was? Probably not. Were they recruiting her for a suicide bombing of a politician? Possibly. Did she know this? Probably not. Did the police kill the gang, including her, without adequate justification. Probably. Was there a political go-ahead at provincial and national levels? Possibly. Ishrat Jehan was caught in the cross-fire between Pakistan and India, “collateral damage” is the dreadul modern term…. It is a credit to India that the truth has been emerging at all, even after nine years…
From Facebook 29 June 2013
“Dehradun: Uttarakhand Assembly Speaker Govind Singh Kunjwal has said that he fears that more than 10,000 people may have died in the flash floods and landslides that have ravaged the state since June 16…”!
— It is inexplicable if not outrageous that an educated man like Manmohan Singh, as Prime Minister of India, did not immediately instruct the military to send in foot columns of crack mountain troops, supplied by mules, to make their way into the mountains to find and sustain thousands of stranded starving civilians regardless of weather conditions. There is hardly any terrain that a well-led force cannot get through on foot. Whatever helicopter support they had in the beginning should have been used to locate all major groups of stranded civilians, and land small armed forces there to organise them, maintain law and order, and prepare them for survival and evacuation… Everybody knows helicopters cannot function in bad weather, and could not be relied on for mass evacuations in bad weather.
Instead of clear-headed civilian leadership, Government and Opposition politicians merely put on a pathetic show and declared they were throwing (debauched) money at the event after the fact. The military has seemed to me somewhat complacent and unimaginative, not wanting to get their nice uniforms muddied too much. Two cheers for the Army Chief who said yesterday ‘he had asked his commanders to launch relief operations in “very, very difficult conditions” in a proactive manner, without waiting for any requisition from authorities’ — yes, finally, a clear statement of what was needed but far too many days late: when had he issued that order? Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should have ordered this himself on Day One. Did he? What did he in fact do?
Of course yes, Dr Singh and his acolytes have indeed been busy with decision-making! Business being business, the Big Business Lobbies cannot be stopped from controlling the Government of India’s agenda even during the Uttarakhand Emergency!
“The government on Saturday decided to set up 51 new low-cost airports with an aim to give boost to civil aviation sector and increase air connectivity to Tier-II and Tier-III cities….The state-owned airport operator, Airports Authority of India (AAI), would set up the low-cost airports in 51 cities in Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra.Apart from the low-cost airports, the government has decided grant new international airport status to Bhubaneswar and Imphal at a cost of Rs.20,000 crore. Also, construction of eight greenfield airports this year would be awarded under public-private-participation (PPP) mode for Navi Mumbai, Juhu in Mumbai, Goa, Kannur, Rajguru Nagar Chakan at Pune, Sriperumbudur, Bellary and Raigarh, a statement from Prime Minister’s Office said.Also, the government was mulling operation and maintenance of airports at Chennai, Kolkata, Lucknow, Guwahati, Jaipur and Ahmedabad through PPP contracts.In a bid to ramp up investor sentiment, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday set an investment target of Rs.1.15 lakh crore in PPP (public private partnership) projects across infrastructure sectors in civil aviation, rail, port and power in the next six months.The decisions were taken at a meeting Prime Minister held here to finalise infrastructure projects for 2013-14 which was attended by Finance Minister P Chidambaram, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Ministers of Power, Coal, Railways, Roads, Shipping and Civil Aviation….”
Speaking of airports, these are presumably to service aircraft and not, e.g. railways, trucks or other surface transport vehicles used by India’s masses; are all these new aircraft to the imported? Bought from Boeing? Airbus? The Russians? What will be the net forex burden? Are existing airlines and airports in India doing well? NOT!
From Facebook 29 June 2013
Two cheers for the Indian Army Chief who said yesterday ‘he had asked his commanders to launch relief operations in “very, very difficult conditions” in a proactive manner, without waiting for any requisition from authorities’ — yes, finally, a clear statement of what was needed but far too many days late. When had he issued that order? Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should have ordered this himself on Day One. Did he? What did he in fact do? It would have meant foot columns of crack mountain troops, supplied by mules, making their way into the mountains to find and sustain thousands of stranded starving civilians regardless of weather conditions. Everybody knows helicopters cannot function in bad weather. Yet there is hardly any terrain that a well-led force cannot get through on foot. Instead of clear-headed civilian leadership, Government and Opposition politicians merely put on a pathetic show and declared they were throwing (debauched) money at the event after the fact.
From Facebook 28 June 2013
The Army says “Army has so far evacuated more than 33,000 people since 17 June. 25,000 of them by foot alone while 8000 were moved out by helicopter. 13 Army Aviation aircraft conducted 600 sorties to evacuate 2715 people and ferry 24 tons of food, fuel, medicines, blankets and relief material to the people…”
This needs candid assessment. 25,000 people evacuated by foot? By whom? From where to where? When?
I am glad to see Special Forces have been used if only slightly — to build a helipad (a good use), to retrieve bodies of rescue personnel (a not so good use)…
From Facebook 28 June 2013
“Fears mount over 3000 still missing” says one headline,
“Air ops near end, Harsil fully evacuated of pilgrims” says another…
Exactly the problem that I diagnosed some days ago! Namely, the immediate response of the Indian military on 15/16/17th June should have been to mobilise a few thousand highly trained mountain troops and send them in *on foot* with mule-trains to locate all stranded and starving civilians in the mountains, cutting through the jungle and making their own paths if need be, heavy rain and fog or not. There is very little terrain that an equipped well-led military force cannot get through, regardless of weather conditions…
*We did this as **schoolboys** back in 1970!*…
Whatever helicopter support they had in the beginning should have been used to locate all major groups of stranded civilians, and land small armed forces there to organise them, maintain law and order, and prepare them for survival and evacuation…
Instead the foot-columns and the mules stayed at the barracks, the helicopters flew as and when the weather permitted, even causing one or two to crash… The military seems to have been a little complacent and greatly unimaginative, not wanting to get their nice uniforms all muddied, and expecting non-existent orders from incompetent political leadership…
From Facebook 27 June 2013
The unopened water-bottles are not the only thing wrong with this picture…. But wait, it also has a lesson in political science, namely, that what the Congress (and by imitation other parties in India) follows is the Principle of Proximity….i.e., how close can one inveigle one’s way in as a courtier…
In my case, I have declined to do any such jostling and my proximity to Rahul Gandhi’s late great father in 1990-1991 occurred due to the late great Siddhartha Shankar Ray thinking very highly of the perestroika-for-India project I had led in America in the 1980s,
and also of my 1984 work before that… Rajiv at our last meeting on 23 March 1991 said to me as I was leaving with our advisory group that he wished to see me on his own and would be arranging a meeting… but that never happened.
From Facebook 27 June 2013
Presidency College Calcutta Economics Department was *never* a “cradle of economics” though it is called that today in a morning newspaper and many Presidency alumni have doubtless nurtured that self-delusion. People passing through the St Stephen’s College Delhi Economics BA or MA have had similar delusions and fantasies. Ho hum… each to his own… Here is my 29 May 2000 proposal made as Professor at an “Institution of National Importance” for a “36 Lecture Introductory Economics Course for Advanced Undergraduate Students in India”. Also, my “One-Semester Microeconomics (Theory of Value) Course for Graduate Engineers Planning to Become MBAs” which I myself taught for more than a half dozen years. Do Presidency or St Stephen’s have a comparable syllabus or the faculty to teach either? I would be most pleasantly surprised if they did.
From Facebook 26 June 2013
The 2013 Uttarakhand disaster and the 2008 Mumbai massacres equally reveal the incompetence of the Manmohan-Sonia Government’s political and military responses to national emergencies — **not** that the fascists, communists et al of the Opposition would have been any better, probably worse… All that everyone in New Delhi’s Governing Class knows how to do is throw (debauched) money at things after the fact… Is it the **12th** “Five Year Plan” the country is supposed to be on?? Over which Manmohan, Vajpayee, et al have presided in the name of purported progress? Pathetic.
From Facebook 26 June 2013
The Chindits did not need let aside have any helicopters; just mules and men and grit and determination. Gopal Tandan may remember that in 1970 we, a schoolboy party of a dozen or so led by David Gibbs along with a dozen or so sherpas, cut through mountainous jungle and made our own paths for miles in heavy rainfall or fog carrying backpacks, crossing roaring rivers too. Our legs would be filled with leeches by evening — a completely panicky thought, until you learn to use salt on them and have them drop away. I do not think bad weather itself would prevent trained well-equipped mountain soldiers of the Indian military to have sent columns on foot into the mountains, along with mules, to rescue thousands upon thousands of stranded starving civilians; execrable political leadership and unimaginative military advice from pampered comfortable peace-time generals would be sufficient though. There is very little terrain that an equipped well-led military force cannot get through.
From Facebook 25 June 2013
I do not agree that the public evidence yet shows the Indian military have been heroically rescuing masses of people in the Uttarakhand disaster. They seem to have been doing, at best, a barely competent job. There seems to have been a woeful lack of high quality political leadership and high quality military advice too. The first helicopter priority should have been not even transporting people back in dribs and drabs of a half dozen or so per ride from here and there but rather to have located all the major groups of civilians and have landed with each of them small teams of military personnel (armed to maintain general law and order and to organise them for survival) with some supplies, so logistic contact could have been made for more systematic larger evacuations. I do not see that to have been done. And then there is the business of the helicopters! Initially some 40 light helicopters which did not seem very military in appearance seem to have been on the job. Then they added an MI-26 after several days, and also started to fly around the new expensive US-made transporters, the latter perhaps just for show. And now the excuse is made — could they not expect this? — Oh the weather has turned bad again, all the choppers have to be grounded! What can we do even if 5,000 or 10,000 remain stranded and starving? This is nonsense. The Indian Army has numerous well-trained Mountain Divisions. It has a long history of *mules* being used for transportation in all weather conditions!
Remember the Chindits?! “The 77th Indian Infantry Brigade, otherwise known as the Chindits, was gradually formed in the area around Jhansi in the summer of 1942. Wingate took charge of the training of the troops in the jungles of central India during the rainy season….The standard brigade and battalion structures were abandoned. The force was instead formed into eight columns…The heavy weapons, radios, reserve ammunition and rations and other stores were carried on mules, which would also provide an emergency source of food once their loads had been depleted. With 57 mule handlers, each British column numbered 306 men (the Gurkha columns were slightly stronger, with 369 men). Each man carried more than 72 pounds (33 kg) of equipment, which was proportionally more than the mules carrying the support weapons and other stores….”
Just as I do not see the Indian military to have deployed forward teams with known groups of stranded civilians, I do not see it to have deployed immediately its many many many lowly mules to help reach them and rescue them…. It is more comfortable to stay at a local base perhaps waiting for helicopters to fly again, and also waiting for non-existent orders from some purported leader.
From Facebook 23 June 2013
Subroto Roy reads in the news “As rescue and relief operations in Uttarakhand gather pace, the Indian Air Force has deployed an Mi-26 – the largest helicopter in the world – to augment operations. The chopper, which is usually used to transport goods and troops, is now being used to maintain supply of aviation fuel, critical for other smaller choppers that are already in service to help evacuate thousands stranded across the state. The Army and Air Force have deployed over 40 helicopters for rescue efforts, but a shortage of fuel is turning into a concern. Bringing in new supplies is also very tough since landslides have destroyed several important roads. The Mi-26 will carry fuel to Gauchar in Chamoli district – a landing ground that has been activated by the Air Force – where other choppers can refuel. It will also transport heavy equipment required in repair and construction of roads that is being carried out by the Border Roads Organisation. The giant chopper will also support the construction of temporary helipads to enable smaller helicopters in the evacuating process of those stranded in various parts of the state”
and says This sounds to me a somewhat delayed response, several days into the crisis. Manmohan Singh’s Cabinet should have explicitly announced going onto a war-footing immediately, ordering all available government helicopters to be used and requisitioning private ones. For politicians to be donating money, or asking the public to do so, is a ridiculous hypocritical substitute.
From Facebook 22 June 2013
Subroto Roy reads from Reuters “India has launched a wide-ranging surveillance programme that will give its security agencies and even income tax officials the ability to tap directly into e-mails and phone calls without oversight by courts or parliament…The government started to quietly roll the system out state by state in April this year, according to government officials. Eventually it will be able to target any of India’s 900 million landline and mobile phone subscribers and 120 million Internet users….The new system will allow the government to listen to and tape phone conversations, read e-mails and text messages, monitor posts on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn and track searches on Google of selected targets, according to interviews with two other officials involved in setting up the new surveillance programme, human rights activists and cyber experts…. Security agencies will no longer need to seek a court order for surveillance or depend, as they do now, on Internet or telephone service providers to give them the data, the government officials said. Government intercept data servers are being built on the premises of private telecommunications firms. These will allow the government to tap into communications at will without telling the service providers, according to the officials and public documents. The top bureaucrat in the federal interior ministry and his state-level deputies will have the power to approve requests for surveillance of specific phone numbers, e-mails or social media accounts, the government officials said…. The senior telecommunications ministry official dismissed suggestions that India’s system could be open to abuse. “The home secretary has to have some substantial intelligence input to approve any kind of call tapping or call monitoring. He is not going to randomly decide to tape anybody’s phone calls,” he said. “If at all the government reads your e-mails, or taps your phone, that will be done for a good reason. It is not invading your privacy, it is protecting you and your country,” he said. The government has arrested people in the past for critical social media posts although there have been no prosecutions….”
and says Yes, I have to admit my attempts since the late 1970s and described in my 1981 Cambridge PhD thesis to advance the cause of individual liberty against a semi-tyrannical state apparatus in India have, probably, failed. Communist sleeper-agents and ideologues and fellow-travellers, opportunistic bureaucrats, fascistic rabble-rousers have prevailed and will prevail in the polity…
From Facebook 21 June 2013
Is there a connection between the ghastly 1999 mob-murder of Graham Staines and his young sons, the 2002 Gujarat riots, the 2012 Delhi gang-rape, the 2007 Nandigram killings, the 2013 Kamduni rape-murder, the 2013 Uttarakhand floods and landslides, etc etc in India (leave aside corruption and general inflation caused by the debauching of money)?
Of course there is: They are all outcomes of appalling governance over decades on end whether by the BJP, the Congress, the Communists or whomever….
I find it pretty pathetic Manmohan Singh has appealed for money to be sent to his PM Relief’s Fund for the Uttarakhand disaster when not only does he know he has presided over endless deficit-finance for decades and his Government can print what it wants in a real emergency and use the Contingency Fund of the budget, he read back in *1986* my 1984 argument sent to him by my late father, which said, e.g. “… if there happen to be millions of cases queuing outside the courts waiting to be heard, or if crime is rampant and police protection ineffective, that may constitute prima facie evidence that too few public resources have been devoted to civil order and justice. Or, if heavy rainfall annually causes landslides in the hills and floods in the plains, devastating crops and leaving innumerable citizens destitute, that also might prompt us to ask whether sufficient public resources have gone towards precautions against such havoc. And so on….”
As for Sonia Gandhi asking MPs to donate a month’s salary for flood relief, who is the political genius making this stuff up for her? Her husband in his 1990-1991 encounter with me, when I gave him the results of the UH-Manoa perestroika-for-India project, was incomparably more serious about governance and change.
From Facebook 21 June 2013
Politics and governance cannot be built, or at least cannot be built with any permanence, on mendacity and propaganda — as the BJP is trying to do with Modi’s execrable behaviour in the 2002 riots. Not that the Congress is a lot better, with its mendacity and self-delusion about its own party’s history in 1990-1991.
From Facebook 19 June 2013
Narendra Modi meets the “Planning Commission” chief and says he is pleased his state is getting more than it asked for; the NCP says it finds Rahul Gandhi agreeable as a Congress PM choice…
to me, these signal not merely that Modi is utterly clueless about economics but that the real game is merely for the throne of Delhi, namely,
who gets to control
the endless debauching of the currency,
the weapons’ contracts with the Russians, Europeans, Americans,
the free foreign trips,
the capital stock, small as it is, of the Indian polity…
There is no pretence of any discussion of India’s national interest, let aside of the application of reason to it…
From Facebook 17 June 2013
Predicting the political future in India: The BJP has shot itself in the foot again, this time, to mix metaphors, on the hare-brained idea that winning India’s Median Voter is to be done by having a notorious extremist leading them; the man seems to me a poorly educated uncouth rabble-rouser, utterly unable to articulate a realistic national vision let aside a winning political strategy for anyone except himself; of course there may yet be a Big Surprise: namely he is actually used as a kind of Stalking Horse candidate, to be sidelined later in the day to allow a “moderate” face to take over… Let us see… Either way, there is no BJP-led Government in India in 2014… The Congress has been doing what it knows best which is acquiring or planning more power for itself; as I have observed since 2004, the quiet (and devious) power behind the throne remains one of Sanjay Gandhi’s notorious friends, and Sonia and her son have been pulled unambiguously in the coarse ignorant wasteful and backward direction of Indira and Sanjay **and further and further away from what I know for a fact Sonia’s husband and Rahul’s father had wanted to see in his last months**! The usual crowd of foreign weapons’ merchants and domestic Big Business and Big Labour will get their way, riding on the endless debauching of the currency that has been presided over for decades by Manmohan (and Pranab). The regional political warlords and warladies will win their due shares, and there will be a hung Parliament — which will probably end up being led by a Congress minority government with outside support… India through 2019 will not have anything like sound public finances leading towards a currency of integrity. Pari passu, the great masses of the poor and illiterate and powerless will remain the same, probably get worse as the businessman-friends of the government take over their land paying them with a debauched paper money. And of course with the systematic destruction or ruination of traditional rural employment and food markets, there might even be spots of famine here and there (caused, let us remind, by those who have been weeping so loudly about such things from far distances). But no one should see or hear or talk about any of this, and it will be conveniently drowned out by Bollywood music and cricket commentary… Such is my assessment as things stand today…
From Facebook 5 June 2013
From Facebook 2 June 2013
Subroto Roy asked Does it matter if a thread (on Kashmir) is abandoned? and is told “No.. No..Dr.Roy Its just that the legal and moral questions need debate” and says
From Facebook 1 June 2013
From Facebook 29 May 2013
29 May 1984, a year short of thirty years today… *The Times*, London’s leading newspaper at the time, wrote its lead editorial about my critique of Nehru-Indira economic policy… Where was Manmohan Singh? At the Planning Commission perhaps on his way to the RBI; he acknowledged in 1986 receiving from my father a copy of my critique…
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)…