The UPA government just completed Four years in office. And apparently they are celebrating. For what - managing to stick to the elusive chair for this long without any major hiccups? As in they managed without any major threats of the government dismantling. Well, if that is what they are celebrating then they must applaud themselves.
Four years is a long time to be in government and do nothing at all. Yes, there will be reviews and opinions. Each review and opinion will be different. And I, in my own right, have an opinion for this government doesn’t urge me into a detailed review. I guess the last statement already set the tone of this post.
Once I was excited about this government. That was when it hadn’t yet been formed. I still remember the elections of 2004. The elections results were just out and the BJP, despite their India Shining campaign, a farce, were comprehensibly beaten with no chance of returning to power. The mandate was not clear though. I had hated the Religious politics played by the BJP and was well and truly sick of it. Talk in the air was that the Congress might be able to form the government with help of others. And hard core Indians detested the idea of an Italian widow being the premier of our nation. Sitting in Gaurav’s home, I remember him getting pretty angry at such a prospect. So was I, for it hurt the Indian pride in me and Gaurav and every one like us. But out of the blue, for no reason at all, maybe another of my intuitions, I blurted out “Wait and watch, Manmohan Singh will be the next PM”.
And the lady from Italy, after her sanctification, duly obliged. A complete outsider with no experience of popular politics, though a masterful economist, Dr. Manmohan Singh was bestowed with the responsibility of leading the country into the future. For me it was kind of a personal victory. For no reason at all, I had thrust my dreams and hopes of a better India in the able hands of Dr. Singh. I felt, India, after nearly 60 years of Independence had finally landed a worthy and capable leader. No one can doubt the brilliance of Dr. Singh. He single handedly brought back the country from the brinks of an almost-certain economic collapse and his policies helped propel us into a bright future. For that the nation owes him a great deal. An intellectual, a liberalist, a reformist and a visionary is what India needed in her leader.
But India needed a Leader. And there is more to a leader than just intellect. The prerequisite will always be that he be a visionary and dreamer, someone who can see the future. But one needs to be bold and courageous to chase his dreams, make his visions a reality and shape a better future. He needs to put his fears to rest and act, in the direction he sees as the most viable. Pick up a team which shares his ideas, can bring new ideas to the table and finally implement them. He needs to shrug off the trivialities and petty oppositions and move on beyond those. Most importantly he needs to “do things” and the hallmark of a truly great leader is that he does things right. In India, even “doing” would be extra-ordinary.
Dr. Singh started with showing us huge dreams. He promised a lot, even inspired confidence. The least that was expected of the PM was economic reforms, keeping in mind his glorious record as the Finance minister during the Rao term. India might be growing, but a considerable portion of the Indian Population still lives under the poverty line. And the guidelines for the poverty line would take you by surprise – if you can buy yourself food worth some 2200 calories per day, you are above the dubious line. Economy might be growing but many sectors needed great care. Manufacturing isn’t growing at the same rate as the economy; one of the indicators of sustainable growth. Infrastructure, power and education need huge reforms. Roads and power draw more investment and propel growth. These have to precede economic growth, not the contrary. The state of public education and healthcare systems is in total disorderliness. And much more. We can go on and on about these but one needs to stop and give the man a chance.
A chance he was given and what a chance. To be the Prime Minister of the largest democracy of the world at a time when it was one of the fastest growing economies of the world. An economist could not have dreamt of a better opportunity. But the opportunity did come with too many clauses, which ended up tying him up and constraining him. He was the PM but every decision had to be approved by the party high command. He was leading a coalition government with more than a dozen regional parties, each one with their own agenda. But the pain in the butt proved to be the Leftist parties. Left has never been in a government (they still aren’t yet posses the power to govern the government) and all they know is to oppose any and every thing. And 60 years is a long time to perfect the art.
Somehow the whole event gave me hope, hope of a better future. Even though my intuition came true, I had missed the finer details. I have no idea what freedom he had in choosing his team. Was he the one who made the choice or was the bunch of crap thrust upon him? Whatever it was, he blundered with his team.
Arjun Singh as the HRD minister; who has spent all his time chasing the Reservations for OBC’s in centrally funded institutes. Even if the Bill gets implemented it will affect not more than a thousand people in a nation of over a billion. The only other notable contribution from the honourable minister has been statements in the media about the fees hike of the IIM’s and surprise, surprise how Rahul Gandhi should be our next PM. These endeavors when the most basic needs of the country are primary education. Ramados as the Health Minister; who implement a bill in the Parliament to get of the AIIMS director because of a personal feud. Such is the team chosen by the great man. The list can go on. Who knows, one might even write a book about the misdemeanors of the bunch of talented old men. But I am not totally jobless.
I know that even if the PM tried things on his part, many of his ideas and schemes have been shot down either by the Party High Command or any of the coalition partners or most famously by the Left. The most recent example is that of the 1-2-3 Nuclear Deal. It was one golden chance to be recognized as a Nuclear Power. It would enable India to import Nuclear Technology as well as fuel for the existing Nuclear Power Plants, which by the way are running short of fuel. This being the election year, the Finance Minister has passed pardoned loans to small and medium farmers, which makes no economic sense in the near or distant future.
All of this gives me the impression that the government has been pretending to DO than the actual DOING. Farmers need electricity and fertilizers and most importantly economic viability. They need a stable market where they can sell their produce. They need safeguards against natural calamities which will ensure that they aren’t wiped out by one act of nature. Though the later is tough, the rest are pretty much doable. Reservations seem the most ludicrous of the lot – holding the nation at ransom for a few petty election points where there are villages with no schools or those lucky ones to have a school building but with no teachers. The Health Minister, it seems, did not even try to pretend.
Kinder critics might pardon Dr. Singh for here was a tied up man with the responsibility to run the government for its term. Too many constraints, too many people to keep happy. Somewhere in the way he might have lost his script. I ain’t that nice. For he erred and erred big time. He tried to comply with every ones wishes and keep everyone happy. He seemed to have forgotten that he was the PM and let himself be governed by petty people. He failed to provide India a suitable leadership. He failed the post that he held. Sadly though, he failed himself