Setting An Agenda
- Chidambaram is perhaps most exceptional in Indian politics in having held both the home and finance ministries in the last ten years that the Congress ruled, which give his writing the authority of a practitioner of public policy, who as insider to government has the experience of implementing his convictions on good economics.
This (his second such book) is a collection of 51 essays, earlier published as a series of columns in the Indian Express, covering a wide range, from the 2015 Bihar elections, the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill and Union Budgets, to the debates surrounding the Land Acquisition amendment ordinances, foreign policy and the alarming rise of intolerance in the country.
Displaying clarity of expression, command over data, mastery over detail and understanding of electoral politics, Chidambaram provides an agenda of debate, giving insight into the complex links between economics and politics from an insider’s perspective, but expressed now as an outsider.
Speaking of the great discipline inculcated by writing these weekly “900-word” columns, at the launch of the book, Chidamabaram said a period out of office was very valuable for a politician to rethink stated positions, as well as reflect on why so many policies fail to deliver.
Standing Guard: A Year in Oppositio
Price : `500
Pages : 205
“Only outside of government do you realise the limitations of government, and as to how you can improve governance. After 60 years we still don’t know how to make our laws and policies litigation proof,” Chidambaram, a practising lawyer, told the audience that included former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi. Authored by one of India’s best-known politicians, Standing Guard offers a keen economic and political analysis of India@2015-the tumult of the 2015 Bihar election, the debates surrounding the Land Acquisition Amendment ordinances and the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill, and the alarming rise of intolerance. Chidambaram refuses to shy away from any subject, no matter how contentious. With characteristic candour he examines issues as varied as the true mandate of the Reserve Bank of India, the implications of the Union Budgets; the successes and failures of the United Progressive Alliance governments, and the formidable challenges that lie ahead of the Modi regime. Equally, the author presents a compass for the future-underscoring the need for humility while administering a complex nation and for accommodating Opposition voices for the greater common good. In presenting, at once, a critique and a constructive road map, this book plays out the true meaning of a vibrant democracy-a system of governance in which the Opposition stands guard and remains as responsible as the government of the day. Standing Guard is evidence why P. Chidambaram is considered not just an accomplished economist and administrator, but also a statesman of the finest calibre.
By Nilabh Krishna