Budget 2013: To prosperity or perdition?

Feb 28 2013, 08:48 IST
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Will the Budget aim at the ‘impossible dream’ of establishing the foundations?. (Reuters) Will the Budget aim at the ‘impossible dream’ of establishing the foundations?. (Reuters)
SummaryWill the Budget aim at the ‘impossible dream’ of establishing the foundations?

consequence, how much harm or good even the slightest inflection of his eyebrows, leave alone his utterances and actions, can do at home and abroad. Any FM who is ignorant in that respect is a clear and present danger to India.

Since he resumed an office he should never have left (typically, those responsible for shifting him will never hold themselves to account for the damage they have done as they should be, because the cost of such malfeasance has been enormous) the FM has pursued an exhausting schedule of single-handedly trying to revive faith in India—i.e. resuscitating the belief of those abroad for whom the India story has soured. More importantly, he has been resurrecting the faith that India has so obviously lost in itself (certainly in its government and political system) with growth imploding from 9% to 5%; resulting also in India’s increasingly fragile social fabric threatening to unravel—not just at the seams but at its heart.

The price India has paid for not having an FM who understood what he needed to between 2009 and 2012 has been a heavy one. Blaming the pathetic global economy for India’s growth implosion is an excuse no one believes. Neither should they, because it is patently false. The wounds India suffered were self-inflicted. The consequences of the damage done in that span, in the cavalier, almost callous, way in which investors (domestic and foreign) were treated, is now palpable as those same investors indicate that reviving the India story won’t work any more. The FM now has to deliver the goods in advance.

Without being micro-prescriptive, one can only hope that, in addition to the minutiae and mind-numbing detail of this twist and that turn in tax or relief for each activity, now so commonplace, the Budget will provide a lodestar and compass for the future—a future on which cross-party political consensus needs urgently to evolve if India is to extricate itself permanently from the mess it finds itself in.

It would also be nice if this was the last year in which an anachronistically silly relic of colonial times—the Railway Budget—is presented. The only thing that it achieves is to permit a minor minister to preen. It should have been binned 50 years ago!

The author is chairman, Oxford International Associates Ltd

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