The 'O' in PMO: Office or zero?Rajesh Kalra TOI blog
Not long ago, there was often a refrain among all politicians that, translated loosely from Hindi, went: Even if you make a donkey the Prime Minister, it will become very powerful. For, the power comes from the chair of the Prime Minister. Our economist, ‘Mr Clean’ Prime Minister of India, Dr Manmohan Singh, however, seems to be proving otherwise.
Things are not getting any better for the gentle Dr Singh. As if all the scandals that have engulfed his government were not enough, the controversy over the resignation of nation’s solicitor general, Gopal Subramaniam, has added to the sense of his growing helplessness and that his ministers are out of his control.
To make matters worse, even his most trusted aides and friends have started doubting his control over the situation. His former media adviser and journalist Sanjaya Baru was recently quoted as saying that Dr Singh lacks ‘political authority’. Dr Baru was his media adviser for four years and having known him as my boss during my first stint in The Times of India in the early 90s, I can say he does not utter a word when not required.
What a pity, for expectations from Dr Singh were sky high. In his own genial way, he seemed to evoke respect of most, especially world leaders who looked up to him during the economic slowdown the world over. In his own country, however, the image has taken a severe beating, and I believe, with the series of corruption scandals, the international image has suffered immensely too.
Initially one did feel sorry for the man, for it seemed he was one honest person who could be trusted to set things right in due course. On the contrary, however, he has allowed things to drift, so much so that one often gets a feeling there is a paralysis in government and he is not in control.
Two successive ministers handling telecommunications have had to resign amid allegations of corruption. First one for the massive 2G scam and the second for making money for his family in the forced sale of a telecom licence.
You can say the first one too made money for the family. It is anybody’s guess which family I am referring to.
(Seek out the old Soviet archives.....and see how the KGB funneled money to the "Gandhi's" from the late 1960's.......they are billionaires now. Wasn't Rahul questioned at an airport in the USA for carrying a suitcase with $2 million dollars?
Zardari without doing any business is also a billionaire in Pakistan, Mr. 10%...and President...and a laughing stock in Pakistan, and the butt of many jokes. The American embassy next door to his presidential palace has advised him to keep a low profile, hoping that the Pakistan people will not notice him, through a critical eye. But does this solve the problem of a billion crook destroying Pakistan with the Pakistan military?
With Hasina Didi, I do not know whether she or any of her relatives are billionaires without doing any business, though I have heard gossip that one of her relatives has an apartment in Belgravia in an exclusive part of Central London.(unverified rumor)......this symbolically would be a national tragedy given what the Evil British Empire did to Bengal, "Pearl of India" 1757--1947.
Carefully choreographed stunts with poor people as the background props........one after the other, day in day out does not a make a man of the people Rahul. The national issues of the nation with 1.2 billion people are far more complicated, varied and nuanced---which require a perspective of some sort, not a choreographed ops with uncritical docile poor, with no questions to raise.
Carrying around suitcases stuffed with $2 million in an gora airport sounds like a bad goondawood gangster movie.
If the leading family in the nation, with iconic status, and anointed uncritically and automatically with dynastic privileges sets the stage for corruption at the highest level, along with the power of patronage, then OBVIOUSLY this is the main source which inspires corruption in others be they in government as ministers, or babus or in the private sector.
The problem becomes institutionalized..."If its good for the Gandhi's, its good for me"....then in that situation the watchdogs and agencies earmarked for fighting corruption have problems seeing where corruption really is, until popular public sentiment forces them to deal with the problem, at least superficially.
Napoleon said (unsourced)...: "If you build an army of 100 Dogs and their Leader is a Lion, all dogs will fight like a lion. But, If you build an army of 100 Lions and their Leader is a Dog, all Lions will die like a dog….!" “Only LEADERSHIP MATTERS “...........
Norway is a nation with the highest per capita, and is regarded as one of the best managed countries...the system works. If you have a donkey or a asshole leading the nation, it fundamentally does not matter, even with the big issues... because governance is effective, the bureaucracy is effective...so if by any chance the "donkey leadership" fails, the system compensates for that.
Third World nations like India on the other hand can't afford "dogs" and "donkeys" to lead the nation because the overall governance is very poor, as is the bureaucracy. There is overall systemic failure with poor roads, poor housing, poor education, poor health, poor transport, poor sanitation, poor low quality public officials, corrupt police, inefficient mafia controlled and run markets, closed static economies at various levels........in that kind of a situation the LEADERSHIP of the nation becomes that much more critically important. )
If the Prime Minister says he had no clue as two powerful ministers ran riot in their ministry, it is a shame. It not only shows his helplessness, but is an admission that he failed as a Prime Minister.
(he should resign)
Even the current minister handling telecommunications, who is also the reason for the spat between the government and Gopal Subramiam, recently waived Rs 650 crore worth of fine imposed on a powerful corporate. In the bargain, he overruled senior officers of his own ministry. The said corporate arbitrarily switched off network in areas that were not viable without even informing the government. Instead of imposing an exemplary penalty, the minister reduced it from hundreds of crores to a single digit.
It has the ingredients of another scam, but the PM has been quiet. Just as he was when babus and politicians looted the nation in the garb of the Commonwealth Games and when he appointed a committee to examine the loot, a chief minister belonging to his party rubbished the findings. Imagine, the chief minister rubbishing the findings of a committee set up by the Prime Minister. Shows the disdain with which most treat the man.
As I said, one did feel sorry for the man initially, but his reactions that convey ‘What can I do?” cut ice no more. The signs that he wasn’t in control existed even in the first stint of the UPA. There was this spat between a minister (belonging to an ally) handling an important infrastructure portfolio and the plan panel head Montek Ahluwalia. Apparently, when Ahluwalia threatened to complain to the Prime Minister, this minister openly retorted that he could do so happily, for he reported to his party’s boss and not the PM. A strong PM should have sorted out this minister right then. He didn’t. And since then, things have only got worse, with the PM demonstrating increasing lack of control.
Remember the CVC appointment fiasco? When the whole world knew that the leader of the opposition had objected to the appointment of Thomas as he had pending cases against him, the PMO said it was not aware of the cases or they were not brought to its notice. Seriously, one wonders what the O in PMO stands for. Is it office or "zero"?