The film was made at a budget of Rs 50 crore, The way Manmohan Singh has framed the issue is very interesting It shows that the Congress party is indeed taking a calculated risk by appealing to the rapidly growing and aspirational middle class to swallow the bitter pill of price increases in the larger interest of the nations economic well beingso that India sustains its smart recovery in the face of tough global economic conditions It is not for nothing that Manmohan Singh spoke of ending excessive populism and winning kudos internationally as he was returning from the G-20 meeting at Toronto where developed economiesstill in deep troubleare looking to the emerging market bloc to play a more meaningful role in the global recovery Dr Singh is smartly playing on that sentimentlike he did some time ago when he sought to mobilise middle class support for the nuclear deal which was also seen as a symbol of India coming of age on the international scene The Congress pulled it off then Will it succeed this time Indeedit will be interesting to see how the UPA manages the ever-widening ranks of the aspirational middle class in urban and semi-urban Bharat Of coursethe middle class feels proud when President Obama praises Indias prime minister as the man whom all G-20 leaders listen to seriously on economic issues One is told Manmohan Singhs new fan is German Chancellor Angela Merkel who often discusses economic matters with him HoweverManmohan Singh must also remember that politically the middle class can be very fickle Its loyalty cannot be taken for granted At least in urban and semi-urban pocketsthe middle class voter has been freely shifting allegiances between the Congress and the BJPespecially in the northern belt So while this class may have felt a surge of pride when India signed the nuclear deal it may behave differently when the UPA takes hard decisions which actually call for sacrifices on their part In factthis will be the biggest challenge for the Congress party going forward The economic advisors of the government are saying that the oil price hikes are necessary to create a sustainable economic policy regime They are also at pains to suggest that the oil price hike will actually reduce the ever-bloating budget deficitwhich in turn would bring down the inflation rate eventually Nowthese are technical ways in which economists explain how following a market-determined price regime helps eventually in sustaining growth But the Congress will have to package this message politically Manmohan Singhs attempt to link the oil price hike with India wining kudos internationally is one small attempt at doing that The UPAs larger project in creating a sustainable political-economy framework is what will truly determine its success in the future Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee has already made the governments intention clear that in future most subsidies will have to be targeted at the very poor with the help of technologysuch as the use of smart cards Nandan Nilekanis UID project is making pretty good progress in this regard The Congress party must remember that better targeting of the very poor will also result in withdrawal of subsidies enjoyed historically by the better off middle class A simple example will illustrate this point An internal document prepared by the Planning Commission on the dynamics of implementing the food security legislation clearly spells out that supplying cheap foodgrain to some eight crore households covering 37 per cent below poverty line (BPL) population will require 40 million tonnes of grains annually Howeverthe total availability is only 50 million tonnes That makes only 10 million tonnes available for the Above Poverty Line (APL) population which currently avails of grains from ration shops This is highly inadequate because the APL population consumes close to 20 million tonnes largely because APL grain prices are sold at 50 per cent of the market price APL prices have not been raised since 2002 The urban middle class avails of this window So a better targeting of food grains at the genuinely poor may require the lower middle classes (APL population) to sacrifice the subsidy they have been getting all these years Can Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh tell the middle classes that they must pay more for food grainsLPGcollege educationstate transportetc The Congresss biggest challenge will be to restructure the political economy of the subsidy regime in India Years ago a study showed that implicit and explicit subsidies together in India amounted to 14 per cent of Indias GDP annually This is nearly $150 billion Roughly 70 per cent of this is cornered by the middle classes The Congresss challenge will be to shift a large part of this to the 350 million extremely poor in the country It is a politically tricky taskfor you could fall between two stools attempting this Stillit is certainly worth a serious attempt The writer is Managing Editor? In the 70s, losing his natural swing in the process.who was appointed by Gill, Kumar joined ISRO in 1975.from not only his NDA allies but also from the RSS itself,planes.

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