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Threes years on, Manmohan Singh's second term looks grim

PM aims to combat charge of 'policy paralysis' with words, not actions
India upa three yearsEnlarge
Rahul Gandhi, the All India Congress Committee General Secretary, meets victims of a ferry boat tragedy in Assam earlier this month. As the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance marks the third year of its second term Monday, a new survey shows voters would prefer the Gandhi family scion to step up and run for prime minister in 2014. (AFP/Getty Images)

India's Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government completes the third year of its second term Monday, with little to show for it in terms of new legislation and an economy on the skids.

But as various Indian news outlets report, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and company are planning a public relations blitz of sorts Tuesday to combat charges that "policy paralysis" have derailed the India story for global investors.

(Attention policy makers: There is a reason that's what folks call you. There are other posts available for spin doctors, advertizers, public address announcers and vee-jays.)

Here's FirstPost.com:

"The UPA will organise a celebratory dinner for its leaders on Tuesday to mark the third anniversary and will be coming out with a report card highlighting the steps taken in various sectors during the last one year to dispel impressions of a policy paralysis, which came to the fore with chief economic advisor Kaushik Basu’s statement in New York recently that no major reforms may be possible before 2014."

So what will the impact be?

"There is unlikely to be much jubilation though given its poor track record in terms of governance. Some would even say it is lucky to be still there in power. There is definitely a crisis of confidence – both politically as well as economically."

Here's the Hindustan Times:

"In its Report to the People, the government is expected to detail various initiatives, particularly to tackle corruption and efforts to sustain economic growth despite the global scenario.

"Among the achievements, the government is likely to highlight the successes on internal security front, foreign relations and passage of bills intended to combat corruption and improvement in service delivery mechanisms."

(Note that the anti-corruption bill is still in contention, with the anti-corruption protesters of Anna Hazare's "Team Anna" still objecting to the government's bill as too weak.)

Here's the Times of India:

"With the economy and slowing growth being an obvious cause for concern, the document will argue that the investment climate is better than it might appear in the light of threatened downgrades by international credit agencies. Foreign direct investment in infrastructure has not dried up although the government is seeking a substantial increase.

"Arguing that India remains an attractive investment destination, the report will look at FDI inflows to claim that the India story is far from over. While admitting the economic situation was challenging, the government is expected to counter the perception that even Indian business is looking abroad."

But let's look at the results of the HT-Cfore survey of potential voters released in Sunday's paper.

  • More than half of young Indians (in the 18-35 age group) are optimistic or very optimistic about their future and a similar number says their standard of living is at least the same or better than in 2009 when the UPA-II government returned to power.
  • If elections were held now, more young Indians would vote for the [Bharatiya Janata Party led National Democratic Alliance] than the UPA
  • 72 percent of Indians say it's time to elect a younger PM
  • But only 27 percent say Congress scion Rahul Gandhi is their first choice.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/india/manmohan-singh-second-term-grim

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