To conclude, Jaitley does not address macro issues, which only the budget can deal with. It would be unfair to say that he knows no economics, for we have no evidence of the ignorance, only of disuse. In any case, he has a first-class chief economic adviser, so the knowledge is within his reach; it is his choice not to grasp it. But as I have shown in this column, even when he reaches out to something, his grasp is less than perfect.
How can such a renowned lawyer do so poorly in budget making? There are two possibilities. One is that lawyers are worshippers of ignorance; this is supported by their attacks on the students of Jawaharlal Nehru University. The other is that one can be good at law – and as Jaitley proves, at politics – without knowledge skills. That would be a rather extreme conclusion. I therefore veer towards a third conclusion: Jaitley’s skills are not intellectual but emotional. He is good at making friends, helping people, and trading influence. He has all the skills necessary to make a good politician, except one: in politics, one has also to be good at defeating enemies and manoeuvring with intrigue. He is just the right man for the wrong job.
An analysis of the budget