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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Doctor Bushmohan Singh

Published on :-19 Jul 2008,

It’s unfortunate that a government is collapsing on the issue of a deal and the nation has been turned into a mandi of MPs. Should we allow that to happen? In such a murky political atmosphere Indo-US relations are being marred by politicians for whom strategic alliances mean buying an MP or protecting a criminal for a power gain.

The nationalists have tried to make sure that they do not share a platform with the communal and violent Islamist lobby's rabid anti-Americanism or Marxists' pathological “down with anything American” rhetoric basically raised to help their buddies, the Chinese. I am sure if the deal was discussed threadbare in the beginning and the serious obstacles and objections raised by well-meaning scientists and analysts concerning our nuclear future and security interests were addressed to satisfactorily, the nationalist camp would have taken a different stand. A grand strategic partnership with US or accepting it as a natural ally against terrorism would have been achieved if the US was less self-obsessed. Still it would be proper if the new governments soon taking over the reins in the White House and South Block re-negotiate the deal on equal terms.

The arrogance of the Bush administration, which is going down as the most discredited one, and their counterparts in the hateful South Block did everything possible to mar such possibilities. And now the die has been cast. Bush, as Bushmohan Singh, may love him but I doubt he has won the hearts of Indians.

Chances are the government may seek martyrdom on the floor of the house and go to the villagers saying: “Look, we were bringing bijli (electricity) for you, and these BJP-CPM wallahs brought us down because they are anti-poor. Jokes run wild in election time and mostly it's the illogical and the farce that enthralls and entertains the crowds. Though I am sure inflation – economists say it will soar to 17 per cent – corruption and communally surcharged governance will take heavier toll.

Definitely it's difficult still to attack Dr Manmohan Singh personally. We have had a number of lacklustre prime ministers like Deve Gowda and Gujral, but Singh is different. I admire his cool attitude and capability and patience in going on a Japan tour for improving bilateral relations – it was a very important visit as he being an old Japan hand who is highly respected there must have known if he misses this time, the other time may be too far. Sadly this tour got clouded under the domestic political developments.

But political accountability is a ruthless game and his governance falls short of even bare passing marks. If we have to look at the balance sheet of his governance and ask ‘Is this right way to exit’, it will be difficult to defend him. Even if by hook or by crook his government is saved, he would have bought only two months. If it falls, the elections would be in November- December if not in March. Is it good to allow such vicious and nauseating horsetrading of the so-called honourable MPs just to buy 60 more days of humiliating survival?

When the government was being sworn in, the media was singing paeans to Sonia's “qurbani (sacrifice)” and put her “devi”- like image on the front pages. Now what's the scenario? The plot is thickening by the day. The devi is nowhere to be seen wearing the halo; Parliament is being compared to a mandi and below-the-belt attacks on each other remind us of what India would have been in the pre-East India Company era. It's sickening to read morning newspapers these days.

No government has had such a dismal and disappointing record like the UPA. Not a single major infrastructure project has been contributed, work on the Golden Quadrangle was abysmally slowed down, energy requirements were not met, options like non-conventional and hydro-power generation were not pushed, (forget the US treaty – even if inked today, that would give us the first spark of energy 20 years down the line), farmers have committed suicide from Andhra Pradesh to Punjab and the monetary relief announced helped banks alone. The Prime Minister has absolutely no control on his ministers – they all brief Sonia and take orders from her. Ministers announced communally-focused divisive schemes after schemes and even the budget was Islamised as if India were an Islamic country and terror centres are relieved.

More than the real executions of the plan and programme it's the perception that decides the fate of a government. Vajpayee's image was bright, futuristic and hard on terror. Still he was adored as an amenable and democratic leader who was the boss and controlled the government. Manmohan Singh was always on two stools, his words never carried weight and he seemed to be looking backwards – towards 10 Janpath every time anything big was announced. That was not the PM Indians had mandated. We had voted to have a Prime Minister. My sources say Manmohan was against the destruction of Ram Setu but couldn't do anything; he was against Arjun Singh's self-defeating communal schemes, but couldn't even discuss the matter, leave aside stop him. He was trying to do so many things but you know, madam.

Did he ever want to assert his authority? I doubt it. He always felt too obliged to be nominated as a Prime Minister. The US humiliated him by publishing his photo with Rumsfeld in a less than a quarter of a page but Sonia was given one full page of a smiling pose in an official embassy publication. Even now, China has invited Sonia as a guest to attend the Olympics inauguration, but not the official Prime Minister. It hurts an average Indian to see his CEO being treated shabbily by his own party supremo.
Under such a dispensation, policies are focused on pleasing one personality alone – who rules and the authority of the state reduces to the whims of a selected few not exactly under the PM. Never in the past has the CEO of the nation been so weak and powerless and the polity so communalised.

1. The biggest failure of the govt. is on the poverty eradication front. Food security was shattered and import of wheat became a murky scandal to the tune of thousands of crores. Rural areas are reeling under an unprecedented food crunch and vegetables and pulses have gone beyond the reach of the aam aadmi. Farmers' suicides are continuing alarmingly while the business class sets new records in ostentatious living.

2. SEZs have become the new tool to make political money and while farmers get a boot and bullet Nandigrams and Singur become new signpost of a nexus between insensitive industrial class and the thick-skinned ruler.

3. The IT revolution is proving a big hoax as the new technology is suited only to a handful of those who can read and write English. The large parts of our population remain outside the realm of the brave new world since the government has not cared to make the technology people-friendly and compatible with Indian languages.

4. Issues of national integration and geographical fortification have been left unattended; Indianness is at its lowest edge and to be anything except that proves politically beneficial. Thousands of km of border fencing lies unfinished and whatever has been claimed as completed has large parts without proper barbs because of corruption.

5. Under this governance the distinction between friend and foe has blurred and there is hardly any perception about preparing to face the growing military challenges in the next 10 or 20 years and how to combat the real security threats emerging on all sides of border – the latest addition being Nepal with its Maoist-led government taking over. India has become the most threatened country in the world, which has 90 per cent of its border with Pakistan and China still unsettled and the majority of security force deployment is to combat internal threats to sovereignty. India has been left with almost no friends around – neither in the neighbourhod nor in the Far East or Europe.

6. Indian hardware and manufacturing sector is nobody's baby which keeps our power engines years behind our immediate rivals. Science study is given very low preference and engineering colleges are either running vacant classes or with sub-standard faculty. Fatigued political masters, tired of counting ill-gotten wealth keep on opening new IITs and IIMs with provisions of reservations without ensuring quality education. They never get interested in structuring schools of excellence for the economically poor so that students from disadvantaged classes are empowered at the initial stage to qualify at par and with self esteem for admissions to professional institutions without needing reservation crutches at the higher level.

7. On two extreme corners of the nation, one in Kashmir and the other in Mizoram, more than six lakh patriotic people were compelled to flee and seek refuge in different parts of their motherland leaving their original homes as the communal violent groups threatened their lives. Decades have passed and the govt hasn't done anything to ensure their safe and honorable return.

8. No attention has ever been paid to basic reforms in the administration foremost being the police reforms. We still work in British shoes and through redundant laws and colonial method and attitude towards our own people.

9. Ram Setu and the Amarnath land row were completely illogical and unnecessary, but were allowed to snowball .

10. The Kanchi Shankaracharya was arrested on wild allegations while performing puja on Diwali night under the guise of law and announcing that the statute is above all. But the Congress government refused to execute the non-bailable warrants against the Imam Bukhari through an affidavit filed in court.

11. Danish cartoons about the prophet were denounced and the govt expressed “concern”. And all of us agreed. But when M F Husain drew an obscene picture of Mother India and other Hindu goddesses, nothing happened. Doesn't Mother India belong to all of her children – Hindus, Muslims, and Christians alike? Similarly no govt statement of “concern” came out on the ugly depiction of Devi Durga by an Athens ad agency.

12. In the case of Aligarh Muslim University, when the Supreme Court said it can't be declared a minority institute, the minister refuses to accept it and comforts his vote bank that a law will be passed to annul court's decision.

13. In the case of the infamous IMDT Act in Assam, which protects Bangladeshi infiltrators rather than to facilitate their ouster, the Supreme Court ruling was again flayed and the chairperson of the ruling combine assures in Assam that the same will remain in vogue.

14. The Hajj is helped through lavish grants while Hindu pilgrims to Kailas Mansarovar are not.

15. Negotiations on Kashmir have been reduced to a Muslim-alone platform and all the permits, Aman Setu and talks revolved around Muslim outfits while Kashmiri Hindus remain as neglected as ever. These Hindus have been turned refugees in their own free and secular nation. No plans or announcements are made even to remotely suggest that they will go back home soon. Imagine what this govt and the powerful secular press might have done if Muslims were made to flee from a Hindu majority state in India?

16. The Iran vote by India and even the nuke deal with US was turned into a Muslim issue. On the other hand when a neighbouring Hindu monarchy and its citizens were assaulted by the Communist terrorist group, it becomes a question of democracy and the killers are projected and interviewed as heroes of a so-called mass revolution.

17. The same govt invites the Saudi King as chief guest at its Republic Day parade, knowing well that there is no individual freedom or human rights in the kingdom and Hindus are not allowed to practice their pujas even in the private precincts there.

18. The Andhra govt announces job reservations for Muslims alone in the face of adverse judgments by Andhra High Court and Supreme Court.

19. A congregation of Hindu tribals to rise above social discriminations and ill practices of the caste and regionalism for safeguarding religious identity is condemned as an affront to other religions and pronounced as a 'war' on the secular right to convert Hindus. That the high priests of Hindu society mingled with the so-called low caste people and tried to erase the stigmas is not found even worth mentioning.

No doubt things have improved in comparison to what they were 10 years before, but the question is what parameter should we adopt to gauge the progress? Compare with India of 1960 or with China of 2008?

You may add on a couple of more issues or perhaps say, well Manmohan Singh did extremely well but he was not allowed to take decisions. Both ways he comes out as a PM who didn't represent India's aspirations as a whole and a cry to be bold and fair. The mood of the nation says something else – beyond party lines – Oh god, let India rise into a new realm of a courageous and bold leadership, let us have a prime minister who is master of his mind and gives hope of a resurgence we have been waiting for too long. Let us change the destiny of nation through the greatest power we have – ballot.

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