Speaking Truth to Power - My Alternative View
Author: P Chidambaram
Price: Rs 595
India went through a gigantic transformation between 1991 and 1999 when Dr Manmohan Singh as the finance minister of the country brought in winds of change in the economy and opened it up. Global investments coming to India, the country opening its markets for investments and consumption changed lives of millions of Indians. One leader who was part of policy design and implementation during this phase was former Finance Minister and former Home Minister of India P Chidambaram.
With all this experience and insight, P Chidambaram now analyses what happened in the Indian economy in the last 14 to 16 months in his new book Speaking Truth to The Power.
Former President of India Pranab Mukherjee who writes the foreword to this book has described a lot about what demonetisation did to the country and praises Chidambaram a lot for his acumen.
Chidambaram says he has “written and written for 156 weeks”. And what he has written is substantiated with lots of data. Being a former finance minister who presented so many budgets of the country in the Lok Sabha, Chidambaram reflects the situation very vividly and in detail.
The examples he has given of how exports declined from $236 billion in 2014 to $216 in 2015 and then to $213 in 2016 before picking up a bit, throw light on what really happened to India’s vital export sector in the past two-four years.
One very interesting aspect of this book is Chidambaram adding the socio economic factors and giving hard-hitting examples of how the change in regime has hit a lot of people, especially in the rural areas of the country. He gives examples of how looking backwards and going traditional is affecting the social fabric.
The story of ‘a male student being rusticated from a school because he was seen giving a hug to a female student’ and many similar stories of moral policing throw light on what is happening in the socio political space in the country in the present dispensation.
One has to accept that P Chidambaram was a minister in the UPA rule for several years, continues to be a Congress leader and a prominent face of the opposition in the country, so his views and arguments will have a slight slant and tilt against the BJP and NDA government. But he has also tried to balance his arguments well by saying a few positive things about people like Dr Arvind Subramanian, the chief economic advisor to Modi government. He has also backed most of the arguments with solid data.
So as Pranab Mukherjee says, for the readers interested in issues beyond the realm of just figures, Chidambaram’s policy suggestions are worth reflecting on. We would say it’s an apt account of the economy’s downward spiral.