Bloomberg Opinion columnist Andy Mukherjee triggered a weekend storm with his loss of hope in India, as expressed here.
He has lost hope in India due to what he considers the “inept” authoritarian handling of the pandemic, arbitrariness of policy, decay of institutions, presence of zombie business houses, and the power of a few firms. He worries about a post-pandemic demand gap. He sees walls closing in: “[The] opportunity set for India is shrinking….”
His piece documents the stagnation of post-Independence India, its 1991 rebirth with reforms credited to Manmohan Singh (not Narasimha Rao), omitting to mention the International Monetary Fund gun held to our head, and how those reforms gradually lost focus and force, resulting in rampant corruption. But nowhere does he mention clearly the extent of the corruption, that had become a gouging under the United Progressive Alliance-2 regime. Mukherjee moves to the rising star of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and hopes of a muscular reform push under his leadership. And then he makes a surprising leap to connect the botched demonetization exercise with the “unquestioning devotion” of citizens, and links it to the start of allegedly whimsical decision-making, including India’s six-week lockdown. The rest of Mukherjee’s argument is mostly about how Modi has been able to mesmerize Indians so that they are willing to take any pain that he inflicts but remain steadfast in their faith.