Prof. Arvind Panagariya deserves to be congratulated for writing a piece critical of the lack of fresh and bold ideas in the President’s address to the Parliament which outlined the new government’s priorities. His piece is bold and correct. While it might be too early to make statements such as whether the government had turned cautious now that they are in the office, pieces such as this are required to keep it on its toes.
Usually, some of the most original and innovative thinking that we employ when we have nothing to lose are abandoned when we achieve or acquire something. Of course, social psychologists have explained this before: loss aversion. When we have nothing to lose, there can be no loss aversion. When we have something to lose, then we turn cautious. Sometimes, that very caution turns out to be our undoing.
Of course, addressing the BJP workers in Goa, the Prime Minister has talked of tough and unpopular measures. One hopes that he follows through. Although he does not have 400+ seats as Rajiv Gandhi got in 1984, this mandate belongs to the Prime Minister. He has enormous credibility right now to take on vested interests in several sectors – whether it is labour or business. There will be enough number of people – some well meaning and some not – who will caution him against bold measures. But, sentiments such as ‘it is dangerous’, ‘it is not possible’, etc. did not bring him to where he is, today. He will do fine as long as he does not forget that simple fact.