NDA-II leaders in India with lack experience in deal making: Lord Meghnad Desai

London,Uday Nirgudkar,Anto T Joseph: Lord Meghnad Desai is unusually ordinary as he struts around the eponymous Academy of Economics. At the institute, on the 12th floor of the World Trade Centre l in Mumbai’s snooty Cuffe Parade, he transforms into the uncompromising British economist, his quintessential wry humour never missing in his measured retorts.

Meghnad Desai

On a day when Parliament witnessed a massive logjam, the man with the puffed-up, all-white hair takes on Indian politicians in his signature way. “We in India have a parliamentary process that is very slow and extremely inefficient, irrespective of the party in power.”

According to him, NDA-II is very different from its previous avatar. “There is very little continuity. It is because it discarded all the old people, apart from Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj.” He adds that the new faces in the ruling members need to learn the nuances of deal making, hinting that their inexperience is hurting the reform process with a delay in legislation making.

“Obviously, any reform that requires legislation is going to be slow,” he rues. “We cannot slow down the legislative tasks as much as we do. It is really costing India in terms of the growth rate.”

The prime minister, he says, is “a very good slogan maker” and whether it is Make in India, Swachh Bharat or any other, he makes it look very easy.

He strongly believes that India has all the capacity to grow at 9% or more. “I don’t see any reason why we will not grow at 9-10%.” But he is still not convinced of the revised system that recently pegged India’s growth figure at 7.4%.

“Growth rates do not change one and a half percentage points just like that. So I think the questions still remain open: do we really have an adequate picture either way?”

Will smart cities bring achhe din to India? “Achhe din will happen if we get uninterrupted electricity (in a city), that is smart city. In Delhi, I am having problems right now,” he snaps.

He, however, hoped that that the GST Bill would get passed in the Winter session, paving the way for its implementation from April 1, 2016. “There are no serious objections on either sides. It is basically that the new government lacked experience of deal making. Our Parliament functions on deal making and consensus.”

The passage of GST Bill will clear the road for the creation of a national economy in India, for the first time in 67 years. “We do not have a national economy. We will be slowly constructing one,” he says, adding that the whole debate about the states’ opposition is because they do not think in terms of national economy, but local economy.

“India is like European Union, with each state being like a country.”