Time dubs PM as underachiever

New York: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who has long been lauded for his pivotal role in liberalising the Indian economy, has been dubbed as an "underachiever" by a top US magazine which says he appears "unwilling to stick his neck out" on reforms that will put the country back on growth path.

79-year-old Singh is featured on the cover of Time magazine`s Asia edition, which will be out next week. With his portrait in the background, the title on the cover reads `The Underachiever – India needs a reboot`.

Is Prime Minister Manmohan Singh up to the job?` Time`s report titled `A Man in Shadow` asks, adding that apart from facing the challenges of a slowdown in economic growth, huge fiscal deficit and a falling rupee, India`s Congress party-led UPA coalition "has found itself fending off corruption scandals and accused of showing a lack of economic direction."

"….investors at home and abroad are beginning to get cold feet. Voters too are losing confidence, as rising inflation and a litany of scandals chip away at the government`s credibility," the magazine said.

Pointing towards Singh`s fall "from grace," the magazine said, "in the past three years, the calm confidence he (Singh) once radiated has been absent. He seems unable to control his ministers and his new, temporary portfolio at the Finance Ministry notwithstanding ? unwilling to stick his neck out on reforms that will continue the process of liberalisation he helped start."

The magazine said at a time when India cannot afford a slowdown in economic growth, "laws that could help create growth and jobs are stuck in Parliament, sparking concerns that politicians have lost the plot in their focus on shorter-term, populist measures that will win votes."