In his appraisal Montek Singh Ahluwalia describes India's economic achievements since 1991 as "clearly impressive". He says: "The recovery from the 1991 crisis was exceptionally swift and the post-stabilisation period saw a significant acceleration in growth compared with the growth rate before the reforms". 'He would praise the reforms', you might well say considering that he played a key role in implementing them and managing the economy in the first two stages. But Montek's appraisal is not merely self-congratulation or government spin. His case is persuasive and he admits that all is still far from well, particularly on the poverty alleviation front where the expenditure of state governments on social services is declining. But Montek, like many economists, is better at posing the problem rather than providing the answer. How, for instance, can politicians be persuaded that they will never balance the books unless they reduce the numbers and increase the efficiency of their bureaucrats?