If the world is to be believed, then India is finished.
Today, her external minister sought to reassure investors that things will be OK, despite grim reports about India’s economic growth rate from credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s.
There is even talk of downgrading the nation’s investment status to junk, the first of the so-called BRICs to get this treatment from Standard and Poor.
Speaking at 37th US-India Business Council in United States, external Affair Minister SM Krishna said: “India will restore investor confidence and regain economic momentum and growth.”
This, after Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee “rejected” the Standard & Poor’s report.
A down grading to junk status will mean an increase in the overseas borrowing costs for Indian companies, and as a consequence diminish the country’s ability to attract foreign investment.
So, words of reassurance or defiance from her politicians will not be enough.
For too long now, corruption has plagued the state machinery and political set up.
Whilst, India could enjoy near double-digit growth from 2004 to 08, politicians could avoid the difficult questions, like where is all this money going, how it is helping to lift a country which is estimated to have a third of the world’s poor, and where according to a 2012 World Bank estimate, 47% of the total population falls below the international poverty line of US$ 1.5 a day.
Instead, those very politicians spent most of the time, arguing that growth was a miracle that would somehow take millions and millions out of poverty.
If you dared to ask how this would happen, you would be treated with silence.
Of course, India has great institutions – look at its Supreme Court, whose work against corruption is truly supreme, its IT firms which can boast some of the most creative problem solvers in the world.
But until, serious efforts are made to tackle the obvious poverty that plagues this nation of near two billion souls, all this will come to nothing.
And with slower growth, India will not be able to simply pretend the problem is not there, it will not be able to project all her problems onto her neighbour and rival, Pakistan.
Defiance, denial or reassurance are not cures.
For too long now, those who have hidden behind words such as “miracle” have simply been living in a mirage.