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Chidambaram confident of presenting budget 2013

Last updated on: October 24, 2012 00:43 IST

Finance minister P Chidambaram assured a select gathering in New Delhi on Tuesday that Union Budget of 2013 will be presented on schedule. He expressed hope, that just like in 2004, it will not be passed without debating.

He responded to a question that that there are apprehensions around Union Budget 2013 due to wobbly political alliance and unpredictability of the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj party. Chidambaram said, "There will be a budget. It will be read. I don't know whether it will be debated (in Parliament) or not. I can't say anything about it."

Chidambaram was speaking at the launch of 'Accidental India', a book written by Shankkar Aiyar. It's published by David Devidar's publication outfit Aleph.

The new book written in a racy language recounts the history of India's political economy. It tries to establish that how the change in economy arrived only when the huge crisis developed.

Aiyar says, "It is the reconstruction of 55 years of India's political economy."

He added, "The Indian government has remained in a state of inertia unless external factors have impacted it."

"Every revolution in India -- whether it's the White revolution or the Green revolution -- is driven by some crisis or other," he said.

He argues that the United States, in 1965 had suspended all aid and food shipments to India during the India-Pakistan war, the food situation in India got worse. Only then Green revolution got accelerated.

Aiyar's thesis is that theGreen Revolution fathered by C Subramaniam in 1964, the Milk Revolution by Dr Vargeese Kurien's Milk in 1970, the Mid-day meal scheme that started in 1982, the software revolution of 1990, the Right to Information Act of 2005 and Liberalisation Policy that ended the License Raj in 1992 were result of  huge crisis when enormously courageous men lead the nation and brought about the change.

Aiyar, in his well-researched and dramatically written prose shares with readers lots of insight of making of the radical changes in policies.

However, Chidambaram being Chidambaram, almost negated the theme of the book very courteously.

He said that there is a lot that one can disagree with the book. "Liberalisation ( 1992) was not an accident," he insisted.

He said that the writing on the wall was clear much before the 1992 liberalisation that former Prime Minister P V Narsimha Rao and the Finance Minister Manmohan Singh brought in. He said that Rao's predecessor, Chandrshekhar tried to bring in changes in economic policies and other issues but," The system didn't respond."

He also disputed Aiyar's assumption that the leaders who preceded Rao were not liberal. While surprising the audience, he tried to counter Aiyar by giving a new theory.

Chidambaram pointed out, interestingly, that except Life Insurance of India there was no other sector that was nationalized during regime of  Prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

He said even during the rule of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, changes in tax structures and abolition of industrial licenses were made. Then, taking the thunder rout of Rao-Manmohan Singh's legacy of liberalization, he said that Rajiv Gandhi was a truly liberal leader.

He said that the Bofors scandal curtailed his tenure, otherwise he would have done more.

He disagreed with Aiyar's assumption that government of India commits more mistakes than do the right things. He said, "In our system, it is not easy to take a decision. Every wrong option has a lobby in India!"

He alleged that there is 'perpetual pessimism' in some critics. He quoted the example of how US President Barrack Obama and his competitor talked about even 'killing' the enemy of their country, while his plan to co-ordinate the counter-terrorism operation through the National Technical Research Organisation was opposed in Parliament.

He hoped that National Investment Board, his new plan to attract and speed up investment clearance, will not be opposed.

He said he is telling people in the government to just go ahead and do the reform because 'in India no reforms are undone by the new government. The chance of reforms getting undone is almost nil.'
Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi