What’s the major difference in purchasing your grocery items from a Big Bazaar outlet and ‘Guptaji ki dukaan’?
According to one of my friends, the former signifies ‘modern’ India, which doesn’t like to stand in a miniscule shop, and wait for the humble shopkeeper to weigh the food items, while he greets you with a familiar smile and “unnecessary” quintessential chats.
While the ‘Guptaji ki dukaan’ makes you feel like a middle class common man, the forth coming Wal-Mart would make you feel elite. Is it?
Apart from these consequences of FDI in multi brand retail, the government’s new reformist avatar has much deeper hues and the reforms introduced carry multilayered meanings.
Just days after our dear Prime Minister was humiliated by a Washington Post article which described him as a “tragic figure”, our “silent” PM, sitting pretty over a box of scams (as lambasted by some media reports) suddenly stood upright with a bang announcing big-ticket reforms in one go – as if conveying a silent yet strong riposte - “Enough is Enough”- to all those shouting at him.
The Washington Post’s scathing report was not a one off instance of how the PM’s image has taken a beating. It came after The Independent called him Sonia’s poodle and the Time magazine dubbed him as an ‘underachiever’. Having been lambasted by the opposition and allies alike at home, the anti-PM echoes were reverberating overseas too.
So was The Washington Post’s remark the last straw that ignited the spark and the tinderbox of reforms?
There is a very good thing about failure as they say that once you have hit rock-bottom, there is only one way left to proceed and that is upwards! The same seems to hold true in case of the UPA and our PM.
Ever since late 2010, when the 2G mess came to the light, UPA-2 has been loitering through its tenure, struggling to govern with each day bringing with it a flurry of furores over new skeletons tumbling out of its corrupt cupboard.
As if CWG and 2G weren’t enough, a layer of ‘coal’ got smeared over the previous burden of scams, making it tougher for the UPA to carry on without losing its credibility.
The monsoon session had been whitewashed, and there were filthy splashes of coal on PM’s starched white kurta.
And then came the reforms! The headlines changed overnight!
Politically insecure UPA-2 didn’t hesitate to take tough decisions in a row! Starting on Thursday, (which according to Hindu traditions is supposed to be a good day to initiate new ventures) the government announced unpopular measures - 5 Rs/litre diesel price hike and cap on LPG cylinders. Seeking to soften the effect on Friday, the government took a historic decision, clearing 51% FDI in retail and 49% in civil aviation, opening the sluice gates of reforms!
Though the anti-government chorus is set to raise the decibel levels, it seems that this time round, the UPA has already thought about it and more importantly, it doesn’t seem to care!
Didn’t you listen to our PM roaring in his Singham (Tiger) incarnation – We have to bite the bullet, if we have to go down, let us go down fighting.
While the debate about pros and cons of the FDI is still taking shape and only time will tell whether Wal-Marts turn out to be the well-wishers for Indian industry and citizens, but one thing is sure - The government has risen above its insecurities and fears, it has left behind its dependence on allies and one thing it doesn’t want to lose forever is credibility!
While the diesel price hike is sure to give us all a burning sensation somewhere in our hearts and wallets, and the cap on LPG cylinders too, is going to compel us to wear our thinking caps on how to lessen daily consumption; there is one thing I am going to be proud of – the new image of the PM, roaring and unflinching, ready to give the much needed reforms a push and prepared to take on the resulting repercussions head on.
Dear reforms, hope you would remain honest and save my economy from getting deformed! And you would remain Big-Bang and not end in a whimpering U-turn!