The Washington Post Storm-Manmohan Singh A Tragic Figure

The Washington Post has enlivened an otherwise staid output from the Indian Fourth Estate for long. It has published an article by Simon Danyer under the title: “India’s ‘silent’ prime minister becomes a tragic figure”. It has activated the Congress Party’s ministers into porcupine like offensive mode as usual and they have gone to the extent of threatening stern action against the newspaper. They have certainly not cared to read the article before making their statements, which are practiced platitudes repeated at the slightest suspicion of criticism of the government, Manmohan Singh or Sonia Gandhi. Had they taken the trouble of reading the article before going into the attacking mode, they would not have failed to observe the quotes within which expressions like silent and tragic figure have been put. Similarly the newspapers have covered the story blaming the Washington Post for calling the Indian prime minister silent & a tragic figure. Had the newspapers taken care, their headline should have been: Ramchandra Guha calls the prime minister a tragic figure-The Washington Post. It would have saved all the acrimony and ridicule of our superficial ministers, who threatened to take strong action or seek an apology from the Post. Ramachandra Guha is an Indian historian of great standing and has been a fellow of the Nehru Memorial Library in Delhi for years. The Washington Post story quotes from Guha: “more and more, he has become a tragic figure in our history”- a man totally handicapped by his “timidity, complacency and intellectual dishonesty”. This is the assessment of an Indian intellectual and not that of Simon Danyer of the Post. Now take action against this man, if you can. How badly exposed do all these simpleton minister stand now?

I am, however, on another substantive part of the article. The article states that “India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh helped set his country on the path of modernity, prosperity and power, but critics say….is in danger of going down in history as a failure. It further says that the architect of India’s economic reforms…”. No such credit belongs to Manmohan Singh, neither for India’s modernity, prosperity, power nor being the architect of India’s economic reforms. If anything, Manmohan Singh has put the country back into the middle ages, sown poisonous seeds of civil strife, destroyed every constitutional organ of the state, shown contempt for the only constitutional authority entrusted with the responsibility of guarding public money(the Comptroller and Auditor General of India),distorted the very policy of reforms by reckless disinvestment of public sector undertakings, disabling public sector units like the Air India & Indian Airlines for profit by privately promoted airlines, ignoring horrendous corruption of trillions of rupees in spectrum, coal or commonwealth games , mass bribing of the voters by promising free food grains or laptops or other goodies, allowing millions of tons of wheat to rot in the open in rains but not distributing the same to the starving people, waiving loans akin to the loan melas/fairs of the Emergency period weakening the economy and the rupee, fall in exports and inflation, current account deficit etc, rusting the administrative organization in the country, creating an unconstitutional centre of power in the form of the NAC(National Advisory Council) under the chairmanship of Sonia Gandhi. Above all he is not the architect of India’s economic reforms. Economic reforms in India were initiated by Rajiv Gandhi in 1985. My book on this website contains details about the policy and its implementation. The book is in the Hindi language for the purpose of capturing the public mood and political environment, which will be lost in translation, but is a must read for all investors in India. For the Foreign Institutional Investors it will act as a guide to understand and assimilate the requirements of doing business in India beyond the information contained in attractive brochures. Neither Manmohan Singh nor PVN Rao initiated the reforms. On the contrary, neither of them could have reversed the reforms. Manmohan Singh, however, will be credited with the dubious distinction of reviving the much derided “Inspector Raj” or the rule of the inspectors, which was sought to be reduced to the minimum by Rajiv Gandhi. At any given time there used to be no fewer than 44 inspectors over an industrial unit. A few have been added in the past 8 years of the UPA-I & UPA-II government of Manmohan Singh. I would only agree with Danyer’s assessment when he says: “Under Singh, economic reforms have stalled, growth has slowed sharply and the rupee has collapsed. But just as damaging to his reputation is the accusation that he looked the other way and remained silent as his cabinet colleagues filled their own pockets”.

The bitter fact is that Manmohan Singh does not understand politics at all. He is no grassroots politician. He has never worked in the field as an ordinary member of the political party nor has he ever donned the role of a leader. He has been a government servant for a long time, that too not as a member of the top civil service of the country viz., the Indian Administrative Service(IAS), under whom he had spent his whole service tenure. The IAS carried it so well at that time that even the ministers used to show proper respect to them, what to talk of the members of other services. It is now a different story, as the past 8 years have driven the death nails in the body of the civil services. Now it does not surprise anybody if the Secretary to the Government Of India spends a year or two in the jail. As Manmohan Singh has no political vision for the nation, he has drifted and taken the country down along with him. His ministers have been jailed and more will go to jail, if action on the C&AG reports is not stalled by him. Any political leader of honest make would have resigned the day the C&AG report on the coal ministry was submitted, because a huge sum of rupees 1860000 million was lost to the exchequer during the period when Manmohan Singh doubled as the coal minister also. Instead, Manmohan Singh criticized and suffered his colleagues also to criticize the CAG report. During all these years he has chosen to blame others for all acts of omissions and commission by his ministers or officers. That is not done by leaders of stature, honesty and dignity. They take responsibility and exit; Manmohan does not exit even when he is prepared to own up responsibility.

Manmohan Singh has dealt a death blow to the constitutional scheme of parliamentary government in India. First, his creation of the NAC and appointment of Sonia Gandhi as its chairperson is unconstitutional and the verdict will be delivered by history alone, even as all responsible dignitaries have chosen to tread the politically correct path. Second, his surviving on outside support from all opposing political identities has promoted a politically immoral alliance or coalition. For remaining in the seat of the prime minister, Manmohan Singh has chosen to stoop to any low levels. He is being propped up by leaders who are being charged with disproportionate assets and Manmohan Singh has no qualms of conscience in protecting them rather than bringing them to justice. Thirdly, he has been pursuing a socially dangerous policy of dividing the country on caste and communal lines. India stands to disintegrate if checks are not placed immediately on this policy. There is too much of this poison vitiating the whole structure of the government. Today ministers do not know who is controlling decision making. Cabinet is unable to take decisions on important matters. The parliament has been reduced to a mere debating society, whereas a mere mention of any issue in the parliament used to get instant attention and quick remedy. Now small ministers turn aggressive without any reason.

The cause for worry is Indian democracy and its future. For the present the Indian democracy stands reduced to just a semblance of democracy. Violence prevails in all walks of life and corruption rules the nation. Rule of law is a myth similar to India being the world’s largest democracy. On paper- yes, but in reality- no. On paper we are a very honest nation; in practice, the citizen can only bribe his way to any service from the government. Today, the unexpected has also happened- members in the parliament came to manhandling each other. The trend has been set- there will occur many more such instances in future. The reason is that the hopes of the nation for the change of guard by better leaders from the younger generation have also been dashed. Their performance has been pathetic. They have shown neither political maturity nor high integrity. They turn aggressive even on issues commented adversely in the CAG report. This generation can’t be expected to raise the moral standards of political leaders nor their commitment to a healthy democracy. Indian democracy in their hands would be no better than what it is in the hands of Manmohan Singh- an effigy of democracy.


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