WHEN Dr Manmohan Singh, while introducing the interim budget on February 28, mistakenly attributed the definition of courage as "grace under pressure" to President Kennedy, it was perhaps in keeping with the tenor and objective of his speech. It was Ernest Hemingway who defined courage thus (leading to all sorts of Freudian interpretations, since Hemingway's mother, whom he hated intensely, was called Grace), but a quote from a promiscuous, heavy-drinking American author would have been rather out of place in what was essentially a political speech. At the end, it even mentioned the "friendly hand " extended to the people of India.
The day before, Singh had presented the Economic Survey 1995-96 . But the Survey again reads suspiciously like a pre-election political document. Chapter I of the survey, which provides an overview of the economy and delineates issues and priorities, has a whiff of propaganda wafting around it. Phrases like 'remarkable achievement', 'clear beneficial impact' and 'high quality of the Indian reform programme' peek out with monotonous regularity. In the first two paragraphs, the 'crisis year of 1991' is mentioned no less than seven times. This is no dispassionate economic treatise.