India’s Advani needs help on “money matters”

June 3, 2008

India’s main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L. K. Advani speaks during a news conference in the northern city of Chandigarh December 30, 2007. REUTERS/Ajay Verma (INDIA)India’s 80-year-old opposition leader says he needs help on “money matters”.

Not only does his wife pay all the bills at home, but he asked business leaders on Tuesday for help in drawing up a new economic model which does not ape the West.

He also had some strong words for the Congress-led government, accusing it of failing to control inflation and failing to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor.

When Advani’s own coalition government was in power, it followed pretty similar policies, except with more emphasis on privatisation of state-run companies. But it lost power partly for claiming that India was shining, when poverty was still rampant.

So it’s fair enough to look for economically sustainable ideas to help India’s poor, in fact it is probably essential to address widespread poverty more aggressively.

But is Advani being realistic to suggest there is an alternative to a “Western” development model in the modern world?

And is it right that a man who could be India’s next prime minister so blithely admits to not really understanding economics or money matters?


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For those of us who brag about India being a leader in “customized software solutions” for our clients around the world, it is probably time to build ourself a customized economic model that fits our social structure. There are wonderful examples of such models at grassroots levels from our neighborhood nondescript grocery stores to farmer’s markets.

The man in question was the Home Minister and Dy.Prime minister in the last government and how on god’s green earth did we not know that he did not understand economics back then. Last I heard, he is running for the Prime Minister post, not the Finance Minister. It is not wrong to admit that there are certain things that people don’t tend to comprehend completely. This question should not be through the lens of having the present “Finance” Prime Minister.

Posted by Kautilya | Report as abusive

Mr. Advani is dynamic leader with strong will power, his comments on money matter shows that he is honest and does not hide his weakness from people of India unlike so called great leader Sonia Gandhi.

This is time for all of us to think for India not for party and I think BJP is the best option in all the political options available in India.

Posted by Mahendra | Report as abusive

I don’t think India can sway too far to the left from what the economies of the western world is doing. Its time we learn from what’s gone wrong in the western economies and correct them moving forward rather than come up with a unproven / untested economic strategy for India. India is growing leaps and bound and learning from others weakness is better than trying to reinvent the wheel

my 2 cents

Posted by SP | Report as abusive

Good points. I think that because I have an economics degree I expect everyone to understand a little economics if they want to lead a country!
But perhaps what India needs most is good leadership.

I do think that he is right actually to be asking whether there are ways to tweak the economic model to take account of India’s special circumstances. Not to reject capitalism or restrict the private sector, but to look for ways for the state to revive the economy outside the cities.

Posted by Simon Denyer | Report as abusive

Ther only job Advani has held other than political posts is that of a film critic, if I am not mistaken. But, since 1991, the prime ministers have been anything but economists. Rao was more a polyglot and a foreign policy maven. Vajpayee, too was more of a foreign affairs expert, having been a foreign affairs minister earlier. He too, perhaps, wrote film criticism for the RSS mouthpiece. After that we had a humble farmer, Deve Gowda.

So, you are right on the leadership part. That is what counts, one can always find a minister for a portfolio.

As far the “non-western” model, I am not sure it is so much an iconoclastic turning away from western role models. It is more a seeking of a more inclusive way to grow economically that would account for the kind of disparities that are unique to India. The scale also matters. And, after his India Shining campaign run by lap-top touting poll strategists backfired to the BJP’s shock in 2004, Advani is looking to make sure that mistake is not repeated. So his repudiation for “western” model might have more direct link of the poll campaign of 2004.

Posted by HN | Report as abusive

Unfortunately, the only thing Advani understands is Hindu fundamentalism restricting freedom of religion and thought within India. His time has come and gone.

India, however, should continue to elect leaders who are sophisticated, globally minded and who understand economics and global business structures.

India should continue to expand its infrastructures, roads, power supply (including going nuclear) and work closely with China in obtaining cheaper goods for all citizens. India should create a national highway from border to border going north-south and east-west that is the best in the world and wide enough for mass transit.

India should continue to build a more environmentally friendly country with cleaner air in the cities, controlling stray dogs and better transportation.

All this can be done if the government works with private sector and empowers the private sector rather than attempting to micromanage everything and failing. Less government is always better than more government control/involvement.

Posted by Rajesh | Report as abusive

till now mr advani has seem to be very selfish as his main concern seems to be only prime minister his own regime as deputy prime minister he is focussing on privatisation and the policies followed that time has resulted increased inflation at this hour.When people are dying from poverty he is having his india shining program,and till now he didnt even given a single thought that at this inflation rate how much mid term elections can burden the country but he is only intrested in his PM post and saying that i dont understand money matters…while most of the corrouption cases were filed for nda govt members

Posted by saira | Report as abusive