Sunday, November 27, 2011

Charge of the old guard

From BYLINE- Sunday Guardian (November 27)

If it had been only another item on the continuing agenda of economic reform, the decision to permit foreign direct investment in retail would have been taken at least two years ago. Dr Manmohan Singh's government has been in its favour from the moment it was sworn in seven and a half years ago, but was thwarted by the Left, without whose support it could not have maintained a majority in the Lok Sabha during its first term. That is understandable. No sensible government risks its survival for the benefit of a multinational's bottom line. But 2009's general elections changed the arithmetic of the Lok Sabha dramatically, and with it the algebra of policy manoeuvres. However, the Left's decimation did not alter a basic fact: that opposition to retail FDI cuts across partisan lines. The government has majority support in a compliant Cabinet, but not in the less obedient Lok Sabha. The coalition that governs India is now split, although not broken.

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