Hauled from the Comments: An Open Letter to Manmohan Singh

My post, A few home truths for Indians, did not go down too well with some. They don’t like my pointing out the fact that the Gandhi-Nehru dynasty has been India’s primary curse, and one commenter apparently believes in shooting the messenger when he disagrees with the message. But it is a small price to pay for my continued education. (In recognition of the fact that I use this blog for my own education, I categorized that post as “My Continuing Education on the Web.”) I’d like to share with you one comment that clearly advanced my education.

The commenter identifies himself as Chanakya Deux. I’d like to quote this from his comment:

Last weekend, I learnt about an incident in 2007 involving an anonymous IAS officer from the Karnataka cadre, prime minister Manmohan SIngh, home minister Chidambaram and The Dear Eternal Neta ™ Jawaharlal Nehru. I don’t remember it being covered on your blog, but here is what happened.

This anonymous IAS officer wrote an open letter to the Prime Minister that got published in The Mint. It was a succinct and accurate charge sheet of Manmohan’s utter ineffectiveness betraying a lack of both spine and leadership. (A link to the letter in its entirety is available here.) The BJP raked up the issue and ultimately Chidambaram exhorted in parliament: “… I have read the article. I do not know whether the name of that author given in that article is a true name or a pseudo name. I do not know whether he is an IAS officer. All I know is either he is a disloyal officer or a coward or both. If he had the courage, he should write the letter, sign in his own name and send it to the Prime Minister….”

The editor of The Mint did not let Chidambaram get away with it. He had a brilliant response, which included a reminder to the Home Minister: “In November 1937, the Modern Review, then India’s most well-regarded journal of opinion, published an article on Jawaharlal Nehru written by Chanakya, an obvious pseudonym. The author hit out at Nehru’s latent dictatorial tendencies and his “intolerance for others and a certain contempt for the weak and inefficient”. Its author warned: “Jawaharlal might fancy himself as a Caesar.” There were howls of protest from loyalists until it was revealed much later that Nehru himself was the author of this piece.” That caused Chidambaram and his cronies to shut-up on the matter.

Thanks to you, Chanakya Deux, now I am even more convinced that Manmohan Singh is the most pathetic prime minister of India ever — and that is saying something considering the horrors that we have had before such as Weepy Singh. But even the worst of the lot had some popular support as evidenced by their contesting and winning at the Lok Sabha polls (regardless of how the elections may have been fixed.)

MM Singh does not dare to stand in an election. But then he does not stand for anything much anyway, if you were to go by his record. Let me quote bits from the open letter Chanakya Deux refers to above.

The letter is written by “Athreya” who is an IAS officer. (Note: The letter is dated Dec 10, 2008.)

Mr Prime Minister, you were selected, not elected by the people, for just one reason, that you posed no threat to anyone in the Congress party. . . You were considered the least of all evils. . .

I think that all references to Manmohan Singh should be “appointed Prime Minister.” It is common practice to point out, say, in corporations that someone is “Acting CEO” or “Interim Chairman of the Board” to indicate that it is a make-shift and temporary appointment till someone else is found to take on the job.

News reports could then say, “The appointed Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh said that he is powerless to do this that or the other . . . ”

Back to the open letter to the appointed prime minister:

Today, after four years in office and after India has witnessed an act of war on its own soil, your government has lost all credibility with the people, and the buck stops with you.

Here I disagree with the IAS officer. If there’s one thing that most Indians are united about, it’s the apathy and disinterested they exhibit towards matters of governance. If the Indian public had any interest in the matter, they would have lynched the politicians the first time they misgoverned — and that would have been the last time the politicians would have misgoverned.

Let’s move on:

You are scared to even name Pakistan in your speeches in spite of the so-called irrefutable evidence you claim to have; nay, in fact, each time you say something publicly about this now, it sounds like a condolence message, not something that inspires confidence.

What strikes me the most is how pathetically the appointed prime minister whines. He does not even pretend to have any power at all. For example, he whines about corruption — as if he were a stay-at-home invalid writing letters to the editor of a newspaper complaining about how the government does not do anything about the corrupt politicians.

Economic reforms stopped long ago, for your allies didn’t want them; there are many ministers in your cabinet who have perfected Wal-Mart’s cash-and-carry model and you can’t do a damn about it.

The list of stupid, wacky, unhinged from reality beliefs that Indians generally hold is fairly long. At the top of this list is the belief that Manmohan Singh was the prime agent behind the economic reforms. The fact is that it was PV Narasimha Rao as the prime minister who forced the reforms on a reluctant Manmohan Singh who was Rao’s finance minister.

Manmohan Singh had come up with the usual socialistic bs budget. PVNR rejected the nonsense and told Manmohan Singh that the economy has to change tack. Manmohan Singh followed Rao’s orders.

The appointed prime minister Manmohan Singh’s appointers are happy to erase PVNR’s name and want their prime minion to take the credit — which he does as he is ordered to do.

You have failed on all counts as a leader. So, at least now, when India is under attack on its own soil, please act. And if you can’t act, please get out of the way and allow someone more effective to run the country.

In any district, where there is any act of violence, normally the district magistrate and the superintendent of police get shifted out. As PM, can you not sack or transfer your national security adviser, the Intelligence Bureau chief, the Coast Guard director general, the navy chief—can you or can you not get rid of your entire top brass and send a signal down the line? The signal you are now sending with your inaction is: don’t bother doing your job, for even if the country gets attacked, we won’t touch you.

You have personally demonstrated integrity, but what use is that alone, when almost every key minister in your cabinet is treating every file as an opportunity for cash flows? Are you telling us you don’t know that your telecom, environment and shipping ministries are the home of organized mafias looting the exchequer? What use is it telling us, “Look, I am personally honest, but I’m presiding over a band of dacoits, murderers and thugs. I am only the prime minister and can’t do anything about it”?

What use is it to head a government, Mr PM, when you can’t even protect your citizens from terror, which is the first function of any government? When you can’t act against incompetence or organized corruption in your own cabinet? Is the PM’s job so important beyond the call of your conscience that you want to hang on to it at any cost? Sir, may I remind you that you are holding a trust, not just an office.

Go read the entire piece. And keep a copy on file for future reference:

. . . Your home minister kept combing his hair and did nothing more as India reeled under attacks and you tolerated him because loyalty to a family was more important than the blood of innocent people.
. . .
. . . Can you not ensure simple reforms in the criminal justice system (which scores of committees such as Malimath have outlined) to ensure certainty of punishment for any offence from pickpocketery to terror? Can you not lead legislation to keep criminals out of politics and try to stem the flow of illegal money into campaign funding?

If not, then what use is it being a prime minister if, even after reaching the very top, you can’t do a damn in an hour of national crisis? Soon, all this will be forgotten and it will be back to business as usual. But then, history will judge you. If you have some conscience left, please do something. Don’t forget, “mind without heart, intelligence without conduct, cleverness without goodness are all tools, but only for mischief”.

In my opinion, as I have written before, Manmohan Singh is really a despicably dishonest man. (Previously I had written, “Manmohan Singh is Despicably Dishonest Man” May 2010, and “Manmohan Singh is really and truly a despicably dishonest man“, June 2010.)

He is dishonest to a degree greater than average. The average dishonest man does not conduct his thievery behind a facade of totally perfect personal integrity. People are lulled into trusting someone who is widely proclaimed as an honest man. The reputation is not earned through action but instead achieved through repeated assertion of honesty and integrity — against all contrary evidence — by self-serving media.

The appointed prime minister Manmohan Singh gets a free pass, for now. Truth eventually will out since reality persists while delusions pass.

It’s all karma, neh?

13 thoughts on “Hauled from the Comments: An Open Letter to Manmohan Singh

  1. Manish Friday October 1, 2010 / 10:22 am

    Reading this commentary and others on governance, I think that the answer lies with technology.

    I am just kidding.

    Not totally though……I wonder if there can be an “X-prize” from a philanthropist/s (who has/have the guts) for coming up with way for people to collect, collaborate and present data that makes everyone aware of the real facts and eventually helps in making our governments more accountable. And more importantly it does it in a way that cannot be “crushed” so easily by the powerful politicians/goons governing India today.

    In this age of internet and cheap communication methods, I think an on-line platform makes sense and hence my comment about using technology. I know that this is vastly more easy to say than do it especially knowing that its a huge system that you are up against that has the power to crush any such effort in pieces in minutes or days. But no one on this earth can deny that it is a big challenge for India and ton of other nations. Also to me this approach of using “capitalistic” (i am not an economist so am using this term loosely) way of going about solving this problem makes lot of sense. Being in the technology industry I think there is a need of serious “innovation” in this area. Wonder if wikileaks is such an example? Again the innovation here is not just needed in terms of the way of public collaboration and data presentation but more on the lines of a very SMART way of making sure that the “huge” system that we are against cannot crush this in minutes or days if you know what I mean. In other words just passion with cool technology is not going do it, smartness in coming up with ways of protecting this platform is going to be a must.

    This is the first time i am commenting. Hopefully i was nice, clean and stayed to the topic 🙂


  2. Ketan Friday October 1, 2010 / 11:21 am

    Anything more scathing, perhaps. could not have been written.

    Yes you’re right, this illusion of MMS’ integrity is created by the media. As I pointed out in one of my prior comments, the manner in which nuclear liability bill was manipulated ‘under personal supervision’ of the PM, there was more than enough scope & need to take him to task. Instead, media chose to highlight *corruption* in CWG! 😉


  3. Meghana Monday October 4, 2010 / 3:49 pm

    Well, the people did vote into power Mr. Sycophant Singh. That after the bloodiest terrorist attack that totally exposed the ineptness of the Sycophant Singh Government.

    Therein, perhaps, lies the tragedy of this nation ….



  4. Sid Monday October 4, 2010 / 9:45 pm

    I read some of your blogs before although this is the first time I am commenting here. As one of those anti-Nehru-Gandhi clan people I congratulate you on taking this position. Surajit Dasgupta wrote a very well researched article on MMS’s long career, do read it here:

    He has interesting things to say about him.


  5. Abhijit Das Friday October 8, 2010 / 3:55 am


    Interpol red notices for serving Pakistani army personnel.

    This is as clear as it can get that the Pakistan army has carried out terrorist attacks on Indian soil. I am willing to bet my entire year’s salary that Manmohan and his cronies will do absolutely zilch, nada, nothing except bleat feebly and make useless gestures, no action will be taken to arrest these people.

    It is now or never. If India lets this too slip by, then it is a sign of welcome to the terrorists, and an open invitation for China and Pakistan to occupy all of Kashmir, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and other northeastern states, with the clear sign that we will do absolutely nothing to stop their aggression or acts of war.


  6. Madhusudan Friday October 8, 2010 / 4:35 am

    Thats the apathy of our nation. 😦


  7. vinod sreebhashyam Monday October 11, 2010 / 10:26 pm

    Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, though being honest himself, is stupid enough to allow himself to be used as a front by the corrupt nehru-gandhi family even today. Not only them, even all the other corrupt ministers and politicians use him as a front. All this goes back to sonia gandhi’s corrupt leadership. Otherwise, why is the govt dragging its feet on demanding the list of black money deposits in swiss banks till now? Is it giving all the culprits time to get away, just like it did in favour of the culprits of the Bofors scandal? It is well known that Manmohan Singh will not do anything against the wishes of sonia gandhi. Then why play this charade of being a great PM and being a leader of an elected govt when he himself has no voice of his own, and is a tool in the hands of sonia and now increasingly her children also ? Next thing we all will have to bow down before those very callow children and live under their long rule in future.
    Manmohan Singh is committing intellectual prostitution in allowing himself be used thus.


  8. larissa Tuesday October 12, 2010 / 8:29 am

    I find it hard to believe that India is improving. On these charts on wealth distribution, India is comparable to Africa in terms of colors denoting statistics. Yet India compares itself with China. A few billionaires does not entail general prosperity of a nation. Economists have to do more research on how India can be growing at such rates which does not mirror reaality but only the growt of a minuscule segement of the population.
    Even China has a much larger share of wealth now. Is India destined to be poor forever? Yes as long as it thinks the current growth rates measure reality when growth is confined to increase in billionaire weath and wealth of tiny middle class in the tech and business areas.
    Being able to shop at malls and go to Singapore for vacation does not mean nation is progressing as smug middle class like to think.
    Someone has to do research on how the current growth rates are several points lower and largely cancelled out due to unsustainable increase in population.



  9. larissa Wednesday October 13, 2010 / 11:47 am

    Even bloomberg.com says that Indian government needs to change: the “cringe-worthy” games it hosted after spending and squandering several billions most of which was stolen, is an open indication to all… Intelligent foreigners are also beginning to write the truth about India…Hope such crititues continue, so at least Indians get the truth from foreign press, as India’s own mainstream English media is subservient to the people who created the spectale of those games…


  10. Sudhir Friday October 22, 2010 / 3:58 am

    Ah! you endorse Kanchan Gupta’s saffron views, do you? Now I understand where your rhetoric comes from. Silly me, should have figured it out long ago.


  11. Eba Saturday May 7, 2011 / 11:44 am

    I would say the key line is “You were considered the least of all evils.” This is the main reason any politician gets elected in the first place.

    @Mr Atanu: Have you written a blog about the performance of BJP or other political parties during their terms at the center ? I searched on your past blogs but could not find it. I am curious to know how other political parties would have done things differently. A blog on this would be really illuminating as it would really shine more light on what is an acceptable threshold for evil in politics, and what we as common man can consider palatable. It would be naive to say that zero evil is the only acceptable threshold. I have a feeling that when we list out all the pros and cons, we might find Mr. Manmohan Singh to be not so bad after all. This does not excuse him from his responsibilities, but does shine more light on why we can expect to see him re-elected again, if he decides to stand for elections.


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