Has Manmohan Singh got his mojo back? The Indian Prime Minister has recently suffered the indignity of being called “overwhelmed and out of steam” in the Indian magazine Caravan; a “dithering, ineffectual bureaucrat” by the Washington Post; and an “underachiever” on the cover of TIME.
And yet, there he was on Sept. 14, boldly pushing a major economic reform that would open up India’s vast retail market to greater participation by foreign companies. Singh tried the same move last fall, only to be shouted down by populists within his coalition, who threatened to bring down the government, claiming that the measure would threaten the livelihood of small shopkeepers. Unable to make his case, Singh backed down. This time, he all but dared them to call his bluff. Who’s dithering now?