NEW DELHI – In September, India’s mild-mannered prime minister, Manmohan Singh, turned 80. He also turned a page: After months of being pilloried by every pundit with a soapbox for indecision and weakness, and for presiding over “policy paralysis” while corrupt colleagues allegedly made off with the country’s silver, Singh has boldly seized the initiative. A series of reform announcements, and some frank talk to the public, have underscored his new message: “I am in charge.”
The initial steps that he has announced are impressive. Several controversial provisions included in the government’s last budget are being reviewed. Foreign direct investment will be allowed to enter the retail sector and civil aviation – bold decisions that cost the government the support of a recalcitrant coalition ally.