Indian economy bound to experience pain, says PM

By Murali Krishnan, IANS,

On Board Air India One : After discussing the financial crisis with world leaders in Beijing, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh declared early Sunday that India’s economy was bound to feel the pain “sooner or later”.

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“Well, it all depends on how long it takes the world community to restore confidence to the global financial markets. We are not in complete control. There are bigger players and we are victims of that. The crisis is not of our making,” Manmohan Singh told reporters as he flew home after meeting leaders from Asia and Europe in the Chinese capital.

He added grimly: “Sooner or later, the economy is bound to experience the pain.”

Manmohan Singh admitted that despite corrective measures undertaken to cushion the impact of the global financial storm such as injecting more liquidity and capitalizing the banking system, he was still “worried”.

“To say that I am not worried would not be correct. It is my duty as prime minister to worry when things don’t go as planned. I cannot say it (economy) has bottomed out. I really don’t know,” said Manmohan Singh.

The crisis could not have come at a worse time for Manmohan Singh’s Congress-led government which faces crucial state polls from November and national elections early next year.

His government has also been accused of not doing enough to stamp out sectarian strife and communal violence in parts of India.

These pressing concerns were evident in his press conference while returning from Beijing where he spoke freely on what is required to reshape the economic system.

The prime minister stated that he was also pained by the violence in Maharashtra where Raj Thackeray’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) attacked Bihari youths last week.

“I don’t want to criticise any government while I am on foreign soil. It is very unfortunate that these incidents have taken place. Any regional tensions or animosity is an act of disservice to our country,” he said.

He refuted charges that his government had not done enough to bridge the communal and sectarian divide seen in Orissa, Karnataka and Maharashtra in recent months.

“I am very sorry that such a feeling exists. Those who have read the newspapers about Malegaon and others, I think, would consider that this is a one-sided view,” he said.

“Whichever section indulges in (terrorism) has been prosecuted regardless of the community to which they belong.”

The prime Minister was referring to the arrests of suspected Hindu extremists in Maharashtra for the Malegaon blasts of September 2006 as well as the Modasa explosion in Gujarat last month.

“Let me say that I would urge the media and all thinking segments of our population not to link terror with any one particular religion. Terrorists have no religion… we have to deal wholly and effectively with terrorism.”