Wednesday, June 06, 2012

deja vu all over again: a 1999 wapo report on cluelessness of the neta-babu nexus HT arvind

jun 6th, 2012 CE

another decade, another blunder.

the real problem in india: complete lack of leadership. there is hardly anybody in power who has the nation's interests at heart: they are into grand larceny.

By Kenneth J. Cooper, Washington Post

Sunday, May 30, 1999; Page B02


Eight years ago, when India abandoned socialism and stepped into the

world economy, hope sprang alive in New Delhi's corridors of power and

in the boardrooms of multinational corporations that this Asian giant was

about to become a global economic player, despite the desperate poverty

that has shaped its international image.


Here was a huge country--nearly 1 billion people--capable of throwing its

weight around, if it finally exercised the economic muscle that had wasted

away behind protectionist barriers for decades. India had one of the

world's largest contingents of skilled technicians, a consumer class about as

big as the population of the United States, an industrial base that made

everything from carpets to satellites, and an agricultural sector that ranked

as a leading producer of basic foodstuffs such as wheat and milk.


That was all true then, and remains so, but few India hands have retained

their optimism that the nation's potential for rapid growth is going to be

realized any time soon, even if the next century does turn out to be "the

Asian century" as was widely predicted here--at least before last summer's

Asian economic downturn. (As growth in India's economy and exports has

slipped since 1997, politicians have taken comfort that the declines have

not been as steep as in Southeast Asia.) Many Western executives whose

companies rushed in the early 1990s to establish offices in India have

scaled back their operations--and their hopes--in the past few years.


I understand why they are doing so. My experience covering a succession

of five governments in New Delhi has convinced me that instead of

claiming a significant place in the global economic order, India is holding

itself back.

... deleted

"They ain't ready," concluded an American diplomat who arrived in New

Delhi during the giddy days of economic optimism and left as it was

waning. That diplomat predicted a generation, maybe two, would pass

before India's leaders get the nation's economic act together.

Even that strained measure of optimism springs from faith in what should

be the pride of India, an entrenched democracy that is not only the world's

largest but also the oldest in a developing country. My gut tells me that if

Indian politicians debate it long enough, as they most surely will, they'll get

it right. But as they say in India, "That will take some time."