Newsweek's Top Ten: Manmohan in the list
Accolades from overseas can never be a substitute for applause at home
“From stagnant socialism to go go capitalism” is the primary reason why Newsweek has rated Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as one of the top ten world leaders. One is not sure if this makes the good doctor happy as he is rubbing shoulders with supposed “leaders” like King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and Nicholas Sarkozy of France. And the Congress is certainly not celebrating, more because it does not like the Prime Minister outshining Congress President Sonia Gandhi at any level.
But having said that, one wonders at these inspired lists of “leaders” as it's at complete variance with their image at home. So it stands to reason if citizens of a country want to know how a leader who has failed to lead at home can be placed at the “top” by a magazine. On what basis? What are the criteria of selection? Failure to deliver at home? Proximity to the United States?
Looking at the list one would think so, as except for notable exceptions like Brazil’s Lula da Silva there are many in this ‘top ten’ list who have not been able to provide solutions to the problems in their own countries.
Take just some of the issues staring India in her face. And the responses of Prime Minister Singh and his government. One can argue that he does not have a free hand, but then if he does not and is indeed unhappy about it, he can give up the seat of power for a quiet life in the hills. So one will have to presume that the good doctor likes his post, wants to remain Prime Minister, and thus, opens himself to public scrutiny. Newsweek has judged him as a great leader (perhaps the greatness is relative as the world lacks leaders of stature and clearly Fidel Castro will not qualify in a US mainstream magazine list), but is ‘go go capitalism’ that is wrecking the economic fabric of India sufficient for such accolades? Or is there more to India and her problems than this superficial categorization?
Price rise is killing the people, if not the economy of India. It is a huge issue that is spiraling out of control simply because of Prime Minister’s refusal to accept and put in place necessary controls. In fact, during the debates in Parliament the government was completely on the back foot as it had no answers to real questions, and was unable to convince the House that it was in command and well on the way to controlling inflation and prices. No one seems to have noticed that now more and more protests are taking place in all parts of India on issues of land and livelihood, and instead of the usual dharnas and day long rallies the rural folk are staying on the roads for longer and longer. The anger seen on the faces of the younger farmers as they pelted stones against authority in Aligarh was just an indication of the widespread frustration and unhappiness that is boiling over. And will erupt with disastrous consequences sooner than later, as there is no one in this government who seems to have realized the depth of the problem. Least of all Prime Minister Singh who despite being a “great” economist, does not seem to understand the economics of poor and rural India.
The Naxalite problem is growing, as more and more people join the ranks of the landless and the exploited. The gap between the rich and the poor is widening alarmingly, and again the government and Prime Minister Singh’s inability to intervene is amazing. The Prime Minister of India has been unable to lead his government into finalizing and implementing a plan of action, with individual cabinet ministers and Congress functionaries giving vent to their own views from time to time. The confusion thus, is abundant and the Naxalites continue to have not just the upper hand but also growing support.
The “astute” Prime Minister who Newsweek has ranked in the top ten is unable to tread the thin line between Chidambaram’s ‘law and order and kill them’ policy and Digvijay Singh’s “talk to them’ views to a point where complete confusion reins. Everyone has a free hand, in the absence of a policy, with Union Cabinet Minister Mamata Banerjee exploiting it to the hilt.
Jammu and Kashmir remains out of the Prime Ministers domain. After exhibiting great interest in the issue during his first term in office, Dr Manmohan Singh seems to have dropped the state from his priority agenda. The recent statement appealing for calm and peace and reconciliation seemed to have been dragged out of him, as an all party delegation decided to call on the Prime Minister for intervention. His statement was bereft of any concrete suggestions, and subsequent events show that the government remains totally out of the picture as everyone else manages the Valley.
Curfew has disrupted normal life, and the agitation is being given a communal turn with letters and threats being issued now to the tiny Sikh community that continues to live in Kashmir. Vested interests are clearly behind this, and these could be forces across the border, extremist and fundamentalists within the Valley, and as many in Kashmir believe elements of the intelligence agencies who want to further aggravate the situation by shifting current sympathy from the protestors. Whatever be the reason, it is again imperative for the Prime Minister to join forces with those appealing for calm and secular harmony. Not just in rhetoric but in action, with Kashmiri leaders being persuaded to join forces with all political parties and individuals in the state to visit the Sikh homes and assure them of their safety and security.
Unfortunately Dr Manmohan Singh, the champion of ‘go go capitalism’ seems to have thrown up his hands altogether. And has not been able to, or for that matter event tried to, initiate any policy for Kashmir whereby some levels of peace are restored. There is a lot that the mighty government of India can do, (this column has also attempted to list some possible measures to start with earlier) but the initiative has to come from the captain of the ship who has fallen silent. The ship is totally adrift and the tragedy is that the Captain has decided to do nothing about it. So the curfew continues, the protests continue, the confrontation between the people and the security forces continues, young people continue to die, the anger and the frustration and the alienation continues to grow, and the Prime Minister of India sits back with nothing to offer.
President Barack Obama dug his own grave by accepting the un-earned Nobel Prize for Peace while waging war across the world. Now the fundamentalists of the US are arguing about his religious identity. Prime Minister Singh, of course, has not got near the Nobel as yet but must at least realise that accolades from overseas can never be a substitute for applause at home. And people of his own country are now silent. And what is worse, sullenly and angrily so.
Lastupdate on : Sun, 22 Aug 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 22 Aug 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 23 Aug 2010 00:00:00 IST
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