" I do repent. But heaven hath pleased it so,
To punish me with this and this with me,
That I must be their scourge and minister.
I will bestow him and will answer well
The death I gave him. So, again, good night.
I must be cruel only to be kind. "
----Hamlet, Act III, Scene IV
The Prime Minister's speech was a 21st century equivalent of an often quoted soliloquy from Hamlet(above). On the one hand he explained his cruelty (hike in diesel prices) and on the other hand his kindness (by allowing reforms), in a speech that must have taken even his harshest critics by surprise.
First things first, let us give the Prime Minister some credit for taking decisions, which may not give either him or his party any political mileage. The reforms come on the back of a series of scams and hence lack the credibility that generally accompanies such actions. He could have sleepwalked into the autumn of his political career and not be any worse that he is now. And yet he took those decisions.
He must now walk the talk. The middle class may well be ready for paying more for fuel and gas cylinders, but will not tolerate half baked reforms. The situation is not as drastic as it was in 1992, but we were well on our way to achieve the economic armageddon. The reforms must continue, the subsidies should be well directed and governance must be made more transperant to restore a semblance of credibility.
The PM told the nation that money does not grow on trees. If he squanders away this chance of improving the nation's fiscal health, the people will surely reply in 2014. The reply may well be, money does not grow on trees, but surely it does multiply in the dark recesses of coal mines and thin air of telecom spectrums. The reply will not be palatable.
Mr Singh likes doing shayari on occasion. He will perhaps know this line “Khud hi laga ke aag tamashai ban gaye”. It is difficult to translate the nuances of Urdu into English, but let me give it a try—We have become the spectators of the fire we ourselves lit.