Economic stability, security, social integration on new Indian government agenda
www.chinaview.cn 2009-05-23 15:49:47   Print

    NEW DELHI, May 23 (Xinhua)-- Economic stability in times of global recession, ensuring internal security as well as that of South Asia, and social integration are on top of the agenda of Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, which was sworn in Friday for another five-year term.

    Political analysts say that while Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, a seasoned economist who has aptly scripted the architecture of India's economy decades ago, will be able to help the country steer clear through the times of global economic turbulence, the country's next Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, the former External Affairs Minister, will be there to assist him to achieve the goal.

    "The Prime Minister would continue the economic policies and various flagship programs which have been carried out in the past five years. Mukherjee, the second most senior leader, is likely to get the finance portfolio when the ministerial berths will be allocated in a couple of days," said S.K. Srivastava, a Delhi-based economic analyst.

    Mukherjee is also seen as a stable hand and able political operator, with a history of pushing economic reforms, including signing up to a WTO agreement giving developing nations more access to global trade in 1994 when he was the Commerce Minister.

    "Together, these two leaders, along with the country's Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, another seasoned economist and the Prime Minister's most trusted aide, would be able to bring in economic stability," said Srivastava, adding that the government's primary move would be to arrest recession and then create jobs for the unemployed.

    Ajay Singh, a psephologist, said: "The trio would do the trick. Already the Indian stock markets are showing signs of economic stability at a time when the world so-called economic powers are facing a crisis and struggling to cope with recession, with people across the globe losing jobs and financial institutions going bankrupt."

    Singh pointed out that India's banks are secured, thanks to India's safe banking policy and a number of nationalized banks, which is a cherished heritage from the second generation Nehru-Gandhi matriarch, former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, and the Congress party, which is closely linked with India's most powerful clan.

    Internal security as well as that of South Asia, particularly in the aftermath of the Mumbai terror attacks last November, is also on the government's top agenda.

    India is also closely following neighboring Pakistan's internal situation given the ongoing offensive against the Taliban militants.

    "India wants a stable Pakistan for its own benefit. It is worried about the terrorist elements working on Pakistani soil and trying to destabilize South Asia's peace and stability," said Jayant Dasgupta, a professor of political science.

    He said the Mumbai attacks were "an eye opener" for India, which exposed the vulnerability of the country's coastline and the operative efficiency of its security forces.

    "India is a strategic power and wants to play an important role in this region. So, the government has done the right thing by asking P. Chidambaram to retain his Home Ministry for the second time," he said.

    An ethnic Tamil known for toughness and a hard working hobby, Chidambaram dealt with the law and order situation very firmly and has won accolades also after his predecessor, Shivraj Patil, was asked to step down in the wake of the Mumbai attacks due to his soft approach to terrorism.

    Mumbai-based political scientists Ravi Gokhale said: "Not only Chidambaram, by possibly making S.M. Krishna or Kamal Nath as the next External Affairs Minister, the government wants to prove that a firm man is in-charge of the Foreign portfolio, who is able to dictate and guide the regional neighbors, thereby making India a more strategically important country."

    A.K. Antony, set to retain the Defense Ministry, is also going to play a key role. He is said to have handled the Defense Ministry well in the last term, with the Armed Forces of India, one of the biggest in Asia and the world, owing complete allegiance to him.

    Another important issue for this government is social integration and women's power considered to be UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi's idealistic concept.

    "The government took the primary stride towards its aim by swearing-in three prominent women ministers into the cabinet. The three ministers are Ambika Soni, tipped to retain the Tourism Ministry, Meira Kumar, whose position is still unknown, and Mamata Banerjee, one of the two non-Congress politicians who was sworn in Friday and is likely to get Railways ministry.

    Added to the three is Sheila Dixit, Chief Minister of the state of Delhi which covers the national capital region.

    "India expects these women to play a role in drafting the government's social policies," said Singh.

Editor: Wang Guanqun
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