Investors read in this a sign that the taxman might shed the unusual zeal he had acquired under Mr Mukherjee. However, climbing down from the retrospective tax imposed in the latest budget on foreign transactions involving Indian assets will be tricky as it could invite a political backlash.
Mr Mukherjee was, in a sense, India’s economic czar, heading most of the ministerial panels the Cabinet farms out its decision-making to. That was a lot of work for one man. These groups of ministers are now being carved out among his Cabinet colleagues and Mr Singh will have to assess whether he, as head of government, ought to be caught up in the nitty-gritty of running the finance ministry as well. Whoever fills in for Mr Mukherjee in North Block — be it the prime minister himself — must have a stomach for unpopular choices to revive the economy as the country approaches a general election.