Taking Control of the Situation; India Reshuffles her Key Portfolio’s

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Dec. 4- Security of the country being under severe scrutiny, and having to answer to mass public outrage against the government the political duo of Manmohan Singh and P Chidambaram have decided to take India’s major portfolio’s under their wing. P Chidambaram was chosen to head India’s home ministry, responsible for domestic security while Cambridge educated economist Manmohan Singh will hold both portfolio’s that of Prime Minister and finance minister. Singh is also expected to revamp the Union Council of Ministers shortly, however is likely to make minimal changes as elections are due next May. The union cabinet is still looking for a suitable replacement to Maharashtra’s Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh who has submitted his resignation papers.

With the additional charge of Finance, the Prime Minister is now in charge of eight Ministries/ Departments; Information & Broadcasting, Environment & Forests, Coal, Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Planning, Department of Atomic Energy and Department of Space, according to the Indian Express.

A respected economist, credited as the architect of the country's market reforms in the early 1990’s and with signing a strategic nuclear deal with America more recently, Manmohan Singh is now under sever stress to save the economy from reeling under the pressure of the financial crisis as well as performing his duties as prime minister efficiently.

The change in guard comes at a time when India’s economy, which grew last quarter at the slowest pace since 2004, is suffering as a credit crunch curtails bank lending and a global slump hits exports. The worst terrorist attack in 15 years may also spook overseas investors, who have sold a record $13.5 billion of Indian equities this year, Bloomberg reported.

Nonetheless, businessmen are worried about India’s ability to react swiftly to global financial changes. A senior official at a public sector bank told the Hindustan Times that the prime minister would be required to devote his time and energy towards other pressing issues, including foreign affairs in the wake of the terror attacks. “The financial sector is facing a tough challenge and a full time finance minister is crucial, though the prime minister understands the subject more than anybody else,” the official said.

Banking industry experts added that there needs to be a strict vigilance and full time co-ordination between various regulatory bodies, authorities and the government to avoid any major impact on the financial sector.