New year resolutions, for the most part, are platitudes. This is because, to paraphrase Sherlock Holmes, it is the obvious that eludes us the most. The government is generating a lot of activity, but in a form more likely to cause greater economic uncertainty rather than restore clarity. And this is most true of the finance ministry, the economic face of the government. We all hope the new year will bring new resolve and clarity. But the signals are a bit confusing. So here are reminders in terms of the five key transitions needed in the new year.
First, the government was elected to restore institutional credibility, not erode it further. Frankly, the defence of the ordinance route for important legislation like coal and land acquisition is dubious on two grounds. The Opposition may have stalled Parliament. But the prime minister could have seized the political initiative with simple gestures like, “I will answer all questions in both Houses of Parliament for at least one hour a week.” A prime minister’s question hour would have restored the dignity of Parliament. It would not have given the impression that he is running away. And if, after that, the Opposition were still obtuse, at least legitimacy would be on the government’s side. There has not been a single major gesture by the government to restore institutional credibility. The prime minister rightly said that countries with ideologies falter, those with values endure. He should have added: Those with strong institutions thrive.