In conversation with Shoma Chaudhury on Day 3 of THiNK 2013, was P Chidambaram, the current Finance Minister of India, who spoke on the Indian economy, the global financial slowdown, his vision for the state economy and Congress’ arch rival in the upcoming general elections – Narendra Modi.
Asserting his optimism regarding the country’s current financial situation, Chidambaram admitted that India, along with other countries of the world, is going through a period of ‘stress’. But he believes that if the government takes the correct steps and remains patient, then India can return to its potential growth rate.
When quizzed about the government’s inefficiencies, the Finance Minister acknowledged his limitations and invited the people of the nation to come forward and be a part of the government and not “hide behind a smokescreen of rhetoric, criticism and abuse…Our system is that of democracy. If the elected representatives do not deliver, then throw them out but while they are in office, give them the space to decide how they will govern the country.”
Citing poverty to be the greatest curse in the country, Chidambaram disclosed his deep suspicion for people who want to close down mines, power plants and dams. “I believe that there is nothing more important and challenging than removing poverty from our country.”
When asked if the UPA government had lost credibility and if the Prime Minister had failed the nation, he refused to comment on the Prime Minister saying that it is not appropriate for him to say anything while he is a part of the government. He did however accept that there is a hint of negativity around the government and believes that it is normal due to inflation and the allegations of corruption that surrounds the UPA. “I will however do my best to ensure that there is an upturn before we go to polls,” he said.
Talking about Modi, Chidambaram assured the audience that the BJP leader was being taken seriously as he is the principal challenger in the upcoming elections. “As an individual, I am very concerned about his ideology, philosophy and the kind of language he uses.”
Bringing the session to a close, Chidambaram spoke about Rahul Gandhi and how he wished the young leader voiced his opinion on important national issues. But the Finance minister said he believed that it is time for the next generation to take on the reins: “I personally believe that the time has come to hand over the torch to the next generation.”
By Kumar Saurabh