A fair and productive political economy will not come the Manmohan Singh way who is a slave to the West (see Commentary, "Behind the attack"). It may come by examining why the opening up of the economy in the early-1990s succeeded, entered a rough patch subsequently, showed up under NDA, and has collapsed under UPA.

It is no gainsaid that P.V.Narasimha Rao as prime minister was responsible for the 1991 new economic and industrial policies which finance minister Manmohan Singh as one of the technocrats saw through. Always given to excess, Manmohan Singh drastically cut social sector and educational spending in his first budget leading to uproar and amendment. Not to forget that he allocated Rs 100 crores over five years to the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation that had to be withdrawn after more opposition.

The reason that the early-Nineties' opening up succeeded was because Indian society's traditional entrepreneurial energies locked up by decades of Nehruvian socialism and Indira Gandhi's license-permit-quota raj suddenly found outlet for expression. One of the biggest success stories of those times was Infosys whose promoters were honest first-generation entrepreneurs. Then there were the SMEs in multitudes, the unsung heroes, who manufactured almost entirely for the Indian market, and produced the boom.

India's boom, therefore, was self-created. It was not FDI-inspired. Then as now, India has never been a great attractor of FDI, not of the scale of China. On the other hand, it has been a destination for foreign hot monies, which have played havoc with the Indian stock market. And yet, neither in the past nor now, Manmohan Singh has ever acknowledged this reality. He has never praised SMEs for the boom, and been ever willing to privilege foreigners over Indian entrepreneurs.

Of course the early-Nineties' boom reduced to a whimper when Congress lost the Andhra Pradesh elections mid-term. The electorate has never bought reforms or what passes for reforms. The boom only then revived under A.B.Vajpayee, when it truly flowered. Everywhere except the farm sector, beset by debts and suicides, India grew, and Vajpayee's river inter-link scheme was meant partly to address farm-sector distress.

Unable to junk Vajpayee's national highways' project for long, the successive Manmohan Singh government definitely took revenge on his river inter-link scheme, abandoning it for phoney environmental reasons. To address the distress in the farm sector, however, and concomitantly make it a Congress votebank, anti-poverty schemes were designed, all of which amounted to socialistic wealth redistribution. The social audit of NREGA, for instance, shows no assets have been created, whilst, among other terrible trends, semi-skilled labour has become unskilled because of availability of easy money.

This is the opposite of teaching a man to fish and making him self-sufficient.

It is this NREGA easy money, coming from socking you and me via multiple taxes, high fuel and living costs, and by hugely raising the burden of doing business in India, which is fueling inflation, which in turn has, allowed to grow uncontained for three years and more, destroyed the economy. Lots of businessmen will tell you India does not need FDI, that there is plenty capital hoarded up. The business environment is just not right.

Who has destroyed this business environment? UPA-2. Businessmen who want to do clean business are appalled by the corruption and crony capitalism under Manmohan Singh. The inspector raj is back. Income tax officials openly speak of building "small" nest-eggs of Rs 30 crore and more which their salaries cannot enable. In the environment of loot, everyone wants a share.

The Indian economy is down and out for these reasons.

Manmohan Singh, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, P.Chidambaram and other economic right-wingers speak incessantly of growth without addressing the issue of quality of growth. Wealth redistribution leading to growth cannot be called growth. An economy truly grows when real jobs are created, not the fraudulent employment provided by NREGA, and on this standard, India has spectacularly failed.

Manmohan Singh has no honesty or will to correct the egregious distortions in the Indian "growth" story. Whilst his slavery to the West leads him to take cruel policy decisions such as approving multi-brand retail, it can also be said that Manmohan Singh is clearly clueless about how to rescue the economy. The sooner the country returns him to his Western home, the better.