PM Manmohan Singh
7 July 2012. Prime Minister of India, Dr Manmohan Singh, says that there was no corruption explosion under his watch. He said this on an interview in the Hindustan Times. He said that Indian economy is healthier than what the media portrayed it to be. Singh took over the finance ministry after Pranab Mukherjee decided to run for presidency. Sing held this portfolio for the first time in 1991 and during that time opened up the economy after decades of semi-socialist planning. This step did move India miles ahead in the economic front and in far better lifestyles. After taking over the finance portfolio last month the PM urged the officials to revive the “animal spirit” of the economy and reverse the climate of pessimism that has set in over the recent years. Rating agencies have warned that they will downgrade India’s debt to junk level if the fiscal and current account deficits continue at the present level. The economy grew by 5.3% during the first quarter of this year recording the lowest quarterly expansion over the past 9 years. Inflation remains stubborn and the rupee lost more than a quarter of its value against US dollar over the past 12 months. The inflation remains stubbornly strong. These are the reasons for the pessimism expressed by the media and the public. While acknowledging that the country was passing through “challenging” times the PM insisted that “The India growth story is intact.” He promised to bring “complete clarity” on all tax measures and stressed the importance of reassuring foreign investors at a time of decreasing capital inflows that have exacerbated India’s current account deficit. “We want the world to know that India treats everyone fairly and reasonably and there will be no arbitrariness in tax matters,” he said. His remarks fuelled speculation that the government would back away from aggressively taxing past financial transactions involving firms like British telecoms giant Vodafone. The ruling coalition has been embroiled in a series of corruption scandals in the recent past and most notable among them was A.Raja’s spectrum scandal in magnitude. But Sing defended his administration saying “Never before in the history of India have so many steps been taken in such a short time to bring in transparency into the functioning government, make government accountable to the people for its actions and bring in measures to control corruption.” He cited legislation like the Right To Information Act and the Whistleblowers Bill as examples and said that his administration had made important strides in improving official accountability that would benefit future generations. While he is not expected to continue after 2014 elections, his personal reputation did take a beating because of some major corruption scandals and policy drift. Despite all these setbacks he remains to be admired for his personal integrity and the bold moves he had made in the economic front.