We pretty much know how despicable Dr Manmohan Singh is. I struggle inexpertly to express my contempt for him on these pages. The contempt I feel for him arises from the certain knowledge that much of what the hundreds of millions of poor & middle-class Indians suffer (and will continue to suffer) can be laid at his door.
There are many seriously talented and knowledgeable people who also recognize that truth and are able to write about it in the newspapers. These people should be read by all voters. Should be but are evidently not. Evidently because had voters been paying attention, then Ms Antonia Maino, aka Sonia Gandhi, would have been a minor footnote in India’s modern history. And India would never ever had as despicably dishonest man as the appointed prime minister as Dr Singh.
Actually, Dr Singh’s main qualification for being the appointed prime minister appears to be his ability to listen to orders to shield his boss and the boss’s family from public scrutiny. It’s his questionable moral character that made him suitable for that post. The story is the same as with the president Ms Pratibha Patil. She too has sufficient skeletons in the cupboard that she can be easily manipulated by those who appointed her.
Anyhow, getting back to brilliant writers who tell it like it is. Read Pratap Bhanu Mehta, president of the Centre for Policy Research, Delhi in today’s Indian Express. His column is titled, “He Said, She Said.” Don’t mind the disastrous formatting of the column. I read it very slowly to savor every well-crafted sentence.
I would have quoted the whole column but for copyright limitations. So here are some excerpts, for the record.
The responses of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi to the extraordinary crisis generated by the 2G scam are exhibiting a brazen indifference to our predicament. . .
In their responses, they have not missed a trick. But they have missed the point. . .
It has to be said at this point that, with all due respect, “Prime Minister, you are central to governance: you constitute the governance deficit.” . . .
Can there be any greater denigration of the office when the prime minister does not appear to be in charge of government? . . .
But the leader of the ruling party does not have the luxury of an academic discourse on corruption. The shrinking moral universe is not a fact of nature; it is a consequence of decisions taken by leaders. . .
Did the prime minister and the cabinet endorse Raja’s actions? If they did, what was the rationale? If they did not, what did they do for two years to curb actions that they knew to be wrong? Answering these questions does not require an inquiry. It will take the prime minister no more than 10 minutes to set the record straight on these questions. The Congress is asking us to look into the depths because it does not want to look us in the eye. . .
. . . the simple fact is that the prime minister’s demeanour has consistently undermined the authority of Parliament. . .
The Congress president also made reference to the fact that her government does not want to “undermine established institutions, such as the PAC and the CBI”. There is something deeply disconcerting about this for two reasons. Why does a JPC undermine existing institutions? At the very least it does not do it any more than new institutions like the National Advisory Council undermine line ministries. . .
The references to the CBI are also disconcerting. It is time to ask the government what steps it has taken to restore the credibility of the CBI in the eyes of the public. There is not even a glimmer of acknowledgement that citizens are deeply worried about the CBI. There is not even the slightest concession to the fact that almost every single institution in government now carries an odour of conspiracy. Our law enforcement institutions are beginning to resemble an indiscriminate melange of arbitrary powers, randomly exercised. . .
The appeal to the CBI would be more credible if the government had spent the last few years restoring probity to the functioning of these institutions. It is often said that a measure of corruption is not just the exchange of money. It is the distance and dissimulation rulers exhibit in relation to their own governments. On that measure we have indeed reached a low point. The fourth element in this rhetorical strategy is to hide behind the poor — or worse still, allow other Congress leaders to flirt with the communal card. The Congress leadership has to get over the idea that just because it has promulgated a few schemes for the poor, it can be absolved of the larger structural crisis they have produced in the economy. . . What pro-poor policy can explain that it has become nearly impossible to be an honest businessman in this country? The Congress president is insulting the country by implicitly suggesting that the sense of moral crisis and betrayal large numbers of citizens feel is entirely a product of opposition politics. . .
As for the prime minister: his worst failing may not be corruption, it may not even be standing idly by. His worst failing will be that by not coming clean he has undermined any reason to trust so-called good men.
Go read it all.
Categories: Manmohan Singh