Sunday, July 12, 2009

This Kambakht Budget has many bhakts

"Kambakht budget! We deserve better, Pranab babu" says Shobhaa De in The Time of India. Of course, this week too, like other weeks, I can't figure what Shobhaa De is cribbing about. The Finance Minister pronunciations (pun unintended) or the non-fulfillment of her wish list. She says that it took her two full days to decipher what was presented on July 7.July 7? I don't know what was presented on the 7th of July - it certainly was not the Indian Budget.

Assuming that she's confused between the 6th and 7th of July - I still can't figure out her crib.Only the FM's pronunciations? So what, if the FM's speech was heavily accented. Except Shobhaa De, everyone else understood it very well. Everyone, including the non-English speaking Gujarati stock broker.

Subsequently,Shobaa De has understood the budget better than any economist. She says it hard to decide which is worse - the movie "Kambakht Ishq" or the 2009 Budget. She's had a few days to reflect on the budget (of the 7th July!). Many economist economic writers, industrialists and bankers too have had time to mull over the budget (of the 6th July).Their views seem to be at variance with Ms. De's views. Sample this:

- Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar (TOI-Bangalore 12 July): "... isn't that exactly what is needed to combat the recession and return to faster growth?" "... I am willing to give Mukherjee a chance to prove himself".

- Bimal Jalan (former RBI Governor)“...The budget’s focus and the medium-term perspective is extremely positive. Similarly the short-term and the medium-term perspective about 9% growth, jobs, alleviation of poverty and what’s going to be all that and what’s going to be done about all that — I mean it’s extremely positive,” Jalan said, in an exclusive interview on CNBC-TV18.

- K.V. Kamath, chairman, ICICI Bank: “This is a budget that will take two-three days for the larger markets, not just the capital markets, to understand and then probably react to it.”

- Som Mittal, president, Nasscom: “The decision to extend fiscal benefits available to the industry under section 10A/10B for one year will help the industry mitigate the impact of the current economic environment and help India retain its competitiveness.”

- Karl Slym, president and managing director, General Motors India: “The budget is encouraging due to its focus on infrastructure, education, agriculture, irrigation, health care and social security schemes.”

- Chanda Kochar, chief executive, ICICI Bank: “The growth target of 9 percent set by the budget is clearly a positive signal, especially given the backdrop of weak macroeconomic conditions globally.”

- Uday Kotak, chairman, Kotak Mahindra Bank: “I do believe that this budget is good for domestic economy; it is good for domestic investment, domestic savings and domestic consumption. I think the government has now done its bit to what I call the fiscal part of supporting the economic recovery.”

- Gautam Adani, chairman, Adani Group: “With abolition of FBT and surcharge on IT, more money will be available in individual hands in these challenging times. This will catalyze savings, investments and spending, which in turn will help the economy. An appropriate budget.”

Most people, who are better versed with the budget, seem to be happier with the budget than Ms.De. Also, the FM's pronunciations did not come in their way of understanding the steps taken by the FM to put the economy back on the growth path.

Criticize the budget or policies of the government by all means. Don't make fun of the individual - especially when the minister's integrity and intentions are above board. It does not behove a person of Shobhaa De's stature to ridicule a senior functionary of the government just to fill a newspaper's column.

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