“One of the lessons of history is that nothing is often a good thing to do and always a clever thing to say.” Thus spoke Will Durant, the celebrated American historian and philosopher, the author of the 11-volume The Story of Civilization. I sometimes wonder if Dr Manmohan Singh, the PM of India appointed by the Italian boss of the Congress Party, ever read history and if he did, whether he learned that lesson. Doing nothing is a good thing if the default is to do stupid thing. As the Buddha, the Enlightened One, the One Who Went Thus, had said, “First do no harm; then try to do good.” It appears that the appointed (as opposed to elected) PM is ignorant of what the Buddha said and what Durant had pointed out. He should have struck to doing nothing instead of what he actually did.
Until recently, the appointed PM had very little substantive to say. Perhaps now he wishes that he had heeded Durant’s caution that saying nothing is always a clever thing — at least you don’t open your mouth only to shove your foot in it. Now, presumably under the instructions of his superiors, Dr Singh has started saying things that attract attention to his misplaced foot. Kanchan Gupta in an article in The Sunday Pioneer details how deep the foot is inserted and what contortions were required for the appointed PM to do so.
A few excerpts from Kanchan’s article:
[Dr Singh] remained blissfully ignorant about the CBI giving a clean chit to those accused of leading murderous mobs during the ghastly slaughter of Sikhs in 1984 till a national outcry forced him out of his slumber, should do a reality check before he indulges in further chest-thumping. Ever since he was nominated as Prime Minister in the summer of 2004, Mr Singh has presided over a Government whose actions have encouraged terrorists aided, abetted and armed by Pakistan to strike remorselessly and repeatedly. . .
Tough guys don’t cry, Mr Singh says, but he forgets to add that when Mohammed Haneef was detained by the police in Australia for possible links with Islamist bombers of Indian origin in Britain, he, by his own admission, spent sleepless nights, agonising over the plight of the terror suspect and his parents. In the last five years, Mr Singh is not known to have spent a few moments, forget spending sleepless nights, worrying about the victims of terrorism in India — the children who have been orphaned, the women who have been widowed, the parents who grieve for their sons and daughters, the families which have lost their sole bread-earners. If he has expressed any concern, it is for the families of terrorists killed in encounters with security forces and offered them financial compensation. . .
We could go on and on and cite example after example of how Mr Singh is responsible for the collapse of internal security. But that would be of no consequence to him and his admirers. But since he has raked up the issue of conceding the demands of terrorists, it would be in order to remind him that a Government of which he was the Finance Minister had ensured safe passage for terrorists who had taken over Srinagar’s Hazratbal shrine. And, till such time they were holed up inside the shrine, the Government had fed them biryani and oranges. But they would have blown up the mosque if we had not done so, Mr Singh will argue. Sure. Just as the hijackers of IC 814 would have blown up the plane with the hostages had the NDA Government not released three terrorists. Mr Singh, representing the Congress in discussions with the Government, would repeatedly assert one point: Do whatever it takes to ensure the safety of hostages — something which he forgets today. Strong men have strong memories, Prime Minister.