Will Chidambaram Make India the Promised Land for American Business?
There are ways to test the worth of things. But the means of real tests are always harsh and bruising, like the touchstone on which you rub your gold nugget to see if it is genuine. For Harvard, the proof of the pudding is when its alumni get roasted in the harshest ovens of real life business and come out shining.
Palaniyappan Chidambaram, an alumnus of Harvard, is about to prove his worth with another stint as India's Finance Minister. But in his case, his nemesis and his biggest distracter is also an ex professor of Harvard, Dr Subramanian Swamy.
The problem is that, to gain the confidence of foreign investors, Chidambaram has to find ways to arrest and reverse the powerful negative trend in India's growth which has ended up in a yawning gap in the nation's fiscal balance and high inflation, left behind by his predecessor and the new Indian President Pranab Mukherjee. Perhaps this was also the main reason behind the decision of the UPA leadership to project Pranab Mukherjee as the presidential candidate.
Moreover, since his last stint, despite the confidence of the political leadership he enjoys and repeatedly publicly proclaimed by the Prime Minister, Chidambaram is confronted with a variety of allegations from electoral tinkering to corruption.
While being the country's Finance Minister, Chidambaram has also to fight off extreme political attacks and damaging allegations of corruption, pending legal scrutiny in the courts, which Dr Swamy and the main opposition BJP are spearheading, making his task really daunting for any politician.
To be fair to Chidambaram, he has already been credited with some convincing reforms to India's archaic investment framework during his stint as the Finance Minister during the previous government of the United Progressive alliance of Sonia Gandhi.
Though Chidambaram had to leave the position in the Finance Ministry with an unfinished agenda in the wake of the 9/11 Mumbai Terror attack to take over the Home Ministry, at the behest of the party leadership, unfortunately, no one gives him the credit for stabilizing the country's governance and internal security with swift and decisive actions. Like everywhere else, good acts in politics have no rewards in India.Continued on the next page