I had the great pleasure of attending a presentation at the C.D. Howe Institute here in Toronto by Montek Singh Ahluwalia, currently the Deputy Chairman Planning Commission of India. Unfortunately these sessions, probably wisely, are undertaken as off-the-record discussions. So, I cannot comment directly on what was said.
Mr. Ahluwalia has had a very distinguished public career spanning the World Bank, the IMF, the Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Finance in India as well as a special secretary to the Prime Minister in the latter eighties. His appointments, writings and research point to what can only be described as a thoroughly erudite public servant.
Not surprisingly the focus of questions centred on the state of India’s economy in the midst of the global financial , its relations with neighbors including China and Pakistan and the future role of India in global governance.
There was evident excitement that morning as well as India had just commenced its Parliamentary election cycle. Watching the process of democracy at such a scale cannot be anything but thrilling. Notwithstanding all the limitations and problems it would appear that India appeared to still be on track for significant growth. Humorously, when individuals raised recession in India and the evident comparison with the traditional definition of recession was pointed out, speakers would suggest that India was experiencing a ‘growth recession.’ From the perspective of North America it would be nice to declare a ‘growth recession.’