India next Thursday, but so long as the rupee remains under attack he will find it hard to lower interest rates to encourage growth.
With inflation moving back above 5 per cent, the upper limit of the central bank's perceived comfort zone, its hands are even more tightly tied.
"With RBI set to sustain, even extend, recent monetary tightening, we now expect the palpable downside risks facing the Indian economy to largely crystallise over the next 6-9 months," said BNP Paribas.
The French bank has cut India's growth forecast to 3.7 per cent for this fiscal year, which would be the lowest since 1991/92.
That is nowhere near good enough for a country with India's demographics. It has a population of 1.2 billion and a per capita income of around $1,000.
Chidambaram warned on Tuesday that the economy needs to be averaging 8 per cent growth to generate jobs for the increasing numbers of youth joining the workforce, but it is about far more than jobs.
With nearly 270 million people living in poverty, India is a vastly different kind of economy.
On Tuesday, parliament approved a Food Security Bill that critics fear will push up a fiscal deficit that at nearly at 5 per cent of GDP is among the highest among major economies.
With enough foreign exchange reserves to cover six months of imports and relatively low levels of sovereign foreign debt, India's situation is less acute than it was in 1991 balance of payments crisis.
But, once lionised as the finance minister whose liberalisation of the economy rescued it from that crisis, Prime Minister Singh is now widely criticised for having feet of clay during his nine years at the helm.
His government has loosened rules for foreign investors, but it has failed to introduce the tax and labour reforms that Singh has long advocated.
Instead, policy flip-flops, high-profile tax disputes and numerous regulatory hurdles have stymied investments to a point where many firms find it easier to invest overseas than at home.
"India's fundamentals have deteriorated steadily under the missteps of Singh, his aides and the central bank," Morgan Stanley said in a research note on Wednesday.
Singh and Chidambaram over the past year cut budget busting fuel subsidies, sped up the clearances for infrastructure projects and relaxed rules for foreign investments into a swathe of industries. But most analysts view their actions so far as too little, too late.
Dismal earnings from India's heavily indebted corporates suggest consumer