Seen through the lens of pragmatism instead of a prism of ideological purity, the budget has a logic of its own
The most interesting passage in finance minister Arun Jaitley’s budget speech on Saturday came at the very end. Summing up what the budget had—and, presumably, had not—done, Jaitley said: “People who urge us to undertake big bang reforms, also say that the Indian economy is a giant super tanker, or an elephant. An elephant…moves slowly but surely." Critics of the Narendra Modi government may well read this—if they read superficially—as an admission that the budget, after all, didn’t deliver whatever sort of big bang they may have been looking for. Yet, read more carefully, and what one will see is a nuanced commentary on the Indian political economy— and even of Indian civilization, writ large —which has been characterized by gradual evolution rather than radical breaks and sudden changes in direction.