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A Week in the Life of India, Part II

Will India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh steer his country through necessary economic reforms?

May 26, 2004

Will India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh steer his country through necessary economic reforms?

After Sonia Gandhi declined the post of India's prime minister, she handed the reins to Manmohan Singh. Many welcome her choice. Mr. Singh is a PhD economist and launched India's economic reforms as finance minister in the early 1990s. He is also the first non-Hindu to hold this office. Our second Read My Lips feature on India's election explores the choices ahead for India.

Ms. Gandhi, following your election victory, will you stand as India's new Prime Minister?

"I would follow my inner voice. Today it tells me I must humbly decline this post."
(Sonia Gandhi, President of the Indian National Congress Party, May 2004)

Will the defeated party collaborate with Mr. Singh and the National Congress Party?

"The BJP have shown absolutely no grace in defeat. This augurs badly for parliamentary cooperation in the coming years."
(Mani Shankar, member of parliament for the Indian National Congress Party, May 2004)

Is Ms. Gandhi's coalition likely to stop selling off state-owned companies?

"We are not against disinvestment if it is in the national interest."
(India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, May 2004)

Mr. Singh, what is your economic strategy?

"We will carry forward India’s economic and social development so that we can make the 21st century an Indian century."
(Manmohan Singh, May 2004)

What about foreign investors?

"Our fiscal and other policies will seek to create a favorable climate for enterprise — both Indian and foreign."
(Manmohan Singh, May 2004)

What impact will the new coalition have on India's booming economy?

"India Inc. is a success story and increasingly independent of India’s politics. A new modern India is emerging — and nobody can stop that.”
(Hemendra Kothari, chairman of DSP Merrill Lynch, May 2004)

In what way will the new government change economic reform policies?

“Nobody today is against reform. The question is how do you package reform so it is not seen as merely an elitist exercise. It needs to be seen to benefit the masses.”
(Manmohan Singh, May 2004)

What is one strategy to do this?

“If money is spent on rural India, it will boost rural income — and that should lead to higher demand in these areas.”
(Anand Radhakrishnan, fund manager, May 2004)

What can Pakistan expect from India's new government?

“We have to find a way to stop talking of war with Pakistan. This is stopping us realizing our economic potential.”
(Manmohan Singh, May 2004)

How experienced is India's new foreign minister?

“I myself served as ambassador to Pakistan and have some personal knowledge of the complexities and subtleties of India-Pakistan relations.”
(India’s Foreign Minister Natwar Singh, May 2004)

Read Part I of A Week in the Life of India