Saturday, November 24, 2007

Indian PM Voted World Policymaker of the Year

You may remember that earlier this week I told you I was part of a judging panel whose task was to pick the World Policymaker of the Year for 2007. Well, we reached a decision and have given the award to Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India. The citations says...

An economist by profession, Singh was Governor of the Reserve Bank of India from 1982 to 1985. He served as Finance Minister under Narasimha Rao from 1991 to 1996, and was Leader of the Opposition in India’s Upper House from 1998 to 2004.

Following the 2004 elections, Sonia Gandhi formed a new coalition government. As parliamentary leader of the largest party (Congress), she was expected to become Prime Minister herself but finally appointed Singh. The move surprised many because of long-standing tensions between India’s Sikhs and the central government.
Prior to 1991, India had a planned economy modelled on socialist principles. Enterprise was governed by a complex system of licences, taxes and regulations, which deterred foreign investment and stifled competition. As Finance Minister Singh began a programme of economic reform and liberalisation which lead to rapid and sustained economic growth. Since becoming Prime Minister, his administration has reduced fiscal deficits, provided debt-relief to poor farmers, and implemented many social programmes. Singh has also worked to defuse religious tensions between the Hindu population and minorities including Muslims, Christians and Sikhs.

The investment bank Goldman Sachs recently predicted that India could be the world's fifth largest economy within a decade, and second only to China by

The World Leadership Forum’s annual ‘Policymaker of the Year’ Award is given to a living individual who has created, inspired or strongly influenced important policy or legislation. The nationality or domicile of candidates has no influence on the outcome; the sole criterion is the quality of leadership shown.
Last year John McCain was the winner. We arrived at Dr Singh after an evening which saw 25 names under discussion. In the end we whittled it down to a shortlist of four. I must admit that I ranked Nixolas Sarkozy and my own nomination, General David Petraeus top.

The other judges were, Jon Craig, Chief Political Correspondent of Sky News; Mishal Hussain, anchor for BBC World, Janet Kersnar, Editor in Chief of CFO Europe; Dame Ann Leslie, Foreign Correspondent of the Daily Mail; Emily Nelson, London Bureau Chief of the Wall Street Journal; Dr Irwin Stelzer; economist and journalist; and Malcolm Turner, President of the World Leadership Forum.


Anonymous said...

Darling loses 6 more discs

and wins the award for the biggest tosser in political history.

Anonymous said...

Sonia Gandhi chickened out of the Presidency because so many highly articulate Indians said she wasn't capable of it, and she knew they were right. Thank God that got rid of the Gandhis. Now we have to hope and pray that Indian electorate has rid itself of this illusion forever and that a bunch of Gandhi-family worshipper hysterics don't prod Priyanka into running.

Singh has been brilliant.

I think India will be the top economy, not second to China, by mid-century. China will be second. The reason is, although they're both brilliant people and very commercially-driven, the Indians are the more creative and conceptualistic (if there is such a word).

India will either be top nation,or second to the United States. With China close behind. The US has a long way to go before it runs out of steam.

Anonymous said...

Dr Manmohan Singh sounds very much like a New Labour politician.

Anonymous said...

Indira Gandhi was very much like a New Labour politician. Control, control, control. Singh has relaxed controls and India is prospering. Also, Mrs Gandhi had a grudge against the British (which, actually, her father, Nehru, did not share).

I wasn't pleased when Singh was elected, but actually, he has done an outstanding job.

Chris Paul said...

What a very important award that is.

Anonymous said...

ood choice. I had suggested the Chinese Praesidium for pretty much the same reason but they have been at it for longer & thus are less entitled to this year's award.

Anonymous said...

verity - if you've ever looked at some economic charts showing China's growth then you'll know it is destined to surpass everybody else extremely quickly.

Whilst the US is in a quagmire in Iraq spending trillions of dollars, and now on the verge of starting a wider regional war against Iran, China has been quietly securing many of Africa's national resources for itself. Perhaps this will be the stage for future oil wars?

The biggest advantage China has over India is that its communist, so it can literally steamroller all of its development plans over the will of its people.

China could quite easily extend any of its airports without having to waste years faking consultation periods like we and others must do.

And in Europe, we have been so distracted by this, we have not noticed Putin's Russia - a dangerous animal.

China makes stuff that we buy. There is no need for it to be a nation of great inventors - it is we who tell them what we want them to make for us. This relationship isn't going to change much.

Incidentally, the Chinese government is now plagiarizing popular websites for domestic consumption, and poisoning DNS records to divert Chinese users to its own pirated businesses.

Anonymous said...

Darling did lose any CD's But toeis seemto think he did. Tory blogosmeare.

Anonymous said...

5:04 - I agree that the Chinese, being communist, can strong-arm projects like airports through and can meet their tractor production targets, in a manner of speaking.

But free minds prosper more and it is the Indians who are inventive. I do not deny that it will be a close-run thing, and I think it is wonderful and thrilling, but let me put it this way, as I put it clumsily before, I believe India will have the greater influence globally.

At the same time, other than islam, which is going to have to be addressed at some point - as difficult as this will be, given the oil - I see a world of fewer and fewer conflicts and greater and greater prosperity.

Anonymous said...

China to dominate the world?

Hang on, weren't the Japanese supposed to be in control by now? William Gibson wrote all those novels in the 80' about how we would be all eating sushi and the New Yen would be the only currency that criminals would accept....

China is about to fall off a demographic precipice - due to the one child policy, they are going to make the transition from a growing population with a massive bias to the young to one with an aging population with growth that slows down before shrinking..... *Before* they make it to first world status.

Plus the Chinese stock market and banking system is in a terrible state. Going by price/earnings, their crash will be 1929 scale - 80% falls etc. All the banks have leant their reserves on the basis of "My collateral is my seniority in the Party".....

This will all come to the boil within 5 years.

India will take up the slack. Not just because of the above, but the nature of the place. In China, if you are successful, someone will come along and take your business - unless you have the right friends. In India, the corruption is being got under control - it s safer place to do business, in legal/financial terms.

Anonymous said...

Agreed. India is a democracy and it does have a rule of legal process which, by and large, is not corrupt in the way that former governments have been corrupt. It is a far safer place to do business. Apart from the fact that they speak English by second nature and the familial feel of 350 years of shared history. The Indians share the values of the Anglosphere.

Where India lagged, four or five years ago, behind China was, the Chinese had, with their great talent for planning, got down all their infrastructure. As mentioned above by a poster and as pointed out by Lee Kwan Yew in a talk in China, they decided where they needed airports for moving goods, and they built them. They built highways for heavy traffic to and from those airports. They built ports. All first rate planning.

The Indians, not being controlled, had a more slap dash approach. However, they're now tackling their infrastructure like gangbusters.

I think this is such an exciting time to be alive.

Anonymous said...

Also, in an outstanding move, India is now allowed minority foreign ownership of its press and broadcasting. The WSJ has quite a large position. China, whose media are servants of the government, could never do this.

This is why I believe that India will be more nimble and will leap ahead.

neil craig said...

I'm with Verity "But free minds prosper more" - it is amazing the number of conservatives who really believe that central planning works better & we must cheat to win.

However I am unconvinced that India is going to have freer markets than China - democracy is a two edged sword when it comes to indiidual freedom.

I am also unconvinced that the Indians are inherently more inventive - thousands of years of history & modern IQ tests are in China's favour.

Europe & America had an enormous head start in this race & could still keep ahead if we were to make economic growth our absolute priority. Unfortunately our media give it less time than silly "wars" on terrorism, global warming, drugs, young people & obesity.

Anonymous said...

Neil Craig - The Chinese are simply not inventive people because they think along well-defined lines. I speak of the Chinese with great affection. I had a Chinese boss when I lived overseas, and he was the kindest boss I have ever had in my life. They are aces at organisation and planning, and they excel at long-term solutions. I accept that they invented the compass in 12AD or whatever it was, and the umbrella and chopsticks (although I don't know that that's anything to be particularly proud of) and gunpowder. No one is denying that they are bloody clever.

But the Indians are quicker on their feet, in my opinion and they are much greater risk-takers. Unless something is planned to a faretheewell, the Chinese don't want to do it. An Indian will take a flyer.

The Chinese are controlling. They control the media. The Indians don't. India applies for more revolutionary high tech patents than any country in the world save the United States and Germany.

Finally, this may seem irrelevant to you, but it's not - the Chinese suffer from "face". They don't ever want to take a risk because it might go wrong and they would lose face. The importance of face in any dealings with the Chinese cannot be over-estimated. Whereas the Indians are like us; they don't give a toss and they shake off embarrassment like a dog shaking off water.

I think this is a totally fascinating time to be alive. I love it!

Anonymous said...

If John McCain was last year's winner, Dr Manmohan Singh would be well advised not to turn up to receive his award....