Thoughts on the Future, Reflections on the Past

MUMBAI, 22 February 2017- On 22 February at the Nehru Center, a room full of eager spectators gathered to watch a riveting rapport between former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and several distinguished commentators on Indian political, economic, and social issues. Joining Mr. Chidambaram were Vikram Mehta Singh, Director of Brookings Institute India, Ajit Ranade, an analyst of economic and policy questions, and Menaka Doshi, Managing Editor of BloombergQuint. The night began with Mr. Chidambaram giving opening remarks on some of the most contentious issues of contemporary Indian politics, giving his opinions on the necessity of a strong opposition voice and sharing his concerns on the recent policy of demonetization. Using the remarks as a springboard, the panel engaged in a dialogue over everything from demonetization to the need to create jobs for rural youth. In particular Mr. Chidambaram talked of the need for more dialogue between the governing party in India and the opposition. Mr. Mehta Singh asked if he had any insights regarding alternatives, and Mr. Chidambaram suggested that in America and Europe the opposition had a dialogue daily, and suggested that perhaps India could benefit from a similar arrangement. Mr. Chidambaram vocalized his concern that demonetization could have benefited from more inter-governmental dialogue, and that it could have unanticipated effects on this years GDP figures. The panel used the dialogue as an opportunity to offer alternative perspectives to some of Mr. Chidambaram’s insights or and push back against some of his arguments with meritorious cases of their own, creating a vibrant and intellectually stimulating atmosphere of competing ideas. The audience also had ample time to ask Mr. Chidambaram questions of their own in a Q&A session. As reported by Brian L Osgood, Intern, Asia Society India Centre