Mirrors and images
- Modi attacks Gandhis again, wonders how Rahul can lead country when he can't handle Amethi
- Emissary row: Sanjay Saraf dismisses reports of carrying any message from BJP
- The Third Front: Why transgenders remain a minority in election process
- Lok Sabha polls: Tamizh Talkies
- Elections LIVE 2014: Modi would have ousted Vajpayee like Jaswant and Advani, says Rahul
It was entirely a coincidence that the government announced major economic reforms even as the annual gathering of the heads of diplomatic missions was going on in the capital last week. If the government had cared to ask them, India's hundred-odd ambassadors would have underlined how rapidly Delhi's political credibility has been eroded in the last two years. The Manmohan Singh government did not need Time magazine or The Washington Post to inform it of the severe external costs of the prolonged policy paralysis in Delhi. It's the job of the envoys abroad to provide a clinical assessment of the host governments, their strengths and weaknesses. They are also among the first to sense the shifting external perceptions of a nation.
It needed genius to wreck the extraordinary international optimism about India's prospects into one of profound pessimism and the UPA government seemed to have found a way. Three years ago, when Manmohan Singh returned to power with a bigger mandate, world leaders were tripping over each other in Delhi's power corridors, seeking new partnerships with India. Many of them have checked out since. High external expectations from India were replaced by an older set of perceptions of India as a dysfunctional mass incapable of acting in its own interests. The enthusiasm for India's "soft power" ebbed, paving the way for the return of the more traditional lament of India as a "soft" state.