For a newspaper that has called for a “muscular approach” to fighting terrorism, the “sacking” of home minister Shivraj Patil is a welcome sign of a UPA government that is belatedly coming to terms with India’s new reality—of widespread anger and helplessness. That finance minister P. Chidambaram is taking over will be seen as putting an able, action-oriented administrator into a crisis management role.
But thanks to Messrs Manmohan Singh and Chidambaram’s mismanagement of public finances from India’s recently ended economic boom, the economy has floundered, with the government unable to respond firmly to the cascading global crisis. That Chidambaram has been mostly rhetorical— some of his remarks were rather ill-timed—has been quite clear in the liquidity crisis.
So, as India stares down a twin barrel of national crises—economy and security—let’s remember that what we now need the most are deep, perhaps painful, structural reforms in both these areas.
Unfortunately, neither a much diminished Singh nor a micromanaging Chidambaram has yet shown us they really have the stomach for implementing— not just talking—reforms