Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who as India’s finance minister in 1991 ushered in reforms that liberalised the economy, has been termed by Time magazine as an “underachiever” and criticised for not acting decisively when the economy is slowing.
The magazine features 79-year-old Manmohan Singh on the cover of its Asia edition dated July 16, with the blurb: “The Underachiever. India needs a reboot. Is Prime Minister Manmohan Singh up to the job?”
The cover story, titled “A Man in Shadow”, says the prime minister appears “unwilling to stick his neck out” on reforms that will put the country back on the growth path.
The Asia edition, which will be out next week, goes on to say: “Investors at home and abroad are beginning to get cold feet. Voters too are losing confidence, as rising inflation and a litany of scandals chip away at the government’s credibility.”
The magazine says that Singh, who has been accused of “policy paralysis” by the opposition, “seems unable to control his ministers and — his new, temporary portfolio at the finance ministry notwithstanding — unwilling to stick his neck out on reforms that will continue the process of liberalisation he helped start.”
The prime minister has taken over the finance portfolio with Pranab Mukherjee quitting to fight the presidential race.
The magazine said at a time when India cannot afford a slowdown in economic growth, “laws that could help create growth and jobs are stuck in Parliament, sparking concerns that politicians have lost the plot in their focus on shorter-term, populist measures that will win votes.”
India’s economic growth slumped to nine-year low of 5.3 per cent in the quarter ended March 31, 2012. The gross domestic product (GDP) growth fell to 6.5 per cent in 2011-12 as compared to 8.4 per cent the previous year.
“India is stalling. To turn it around, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh must emerge from his private and political gloom,” the magazine adds.
The Prime Minister's Office was quick to rebut the inferences.
An angry official said: 'Time is suffering from a time lag. Most of the media in India and abroad is welcoming Dr Manmohan Singh taking over the reins of the Indian economy, which is reflected in their reporting the whole week.' Time's stinging article, however, begins with the question: 'Is PM Manmohan Singh up to the job?'