The ‘feel-good’ is evaporating

And the government is likely to argue that it never existed

In a superb op-ed piece in the Calcutta Telegraph, S L Rao, of the Institute for Social and Economic Change argues that it is well within the government’s means to bring back the ‘feel good’ factor that emerged during the latter part of Vajpayee’s term.

…why has a feel-good factor that affected at least a part of the population begun to wane in the last two months? No doubt there are new, adverse, uncontrollable conditions. The monsoon appears again to have failed in large parts of the country. Other areas have severe floods. The prices of oil products have risen sharply. Interest rates, an important reason for the improving corporate results, seem set to harden. Other prices are following suit and the spectre of inflation looms large.

But other intangible factors also made for the feel-good factor. India was no longer sermonizing the world. It was speaking from strength and in dignified language. Its responses were measured and moderate. Self-interest ruled its foreign policies… Instead of an outdated slogan of non-alignment, we built relationships with the third world. A result was the effective response to the rich countries at the last World Trade Organization conference. But our preaching instincts seem again to be coming to the fore.

We displayed dignity in our foreign policy under the Vajpayee government and seem now to be losing it. We hardly hear our moderate and dignified prime minister on foreign policy matters. Instead we hear the grumpy and ill-tempered voice of a foreign minister who does not seen to have grown beyond the Nehru years. Boastful talk, trigger-happy verbal responses, harsh language, lack of bonhomie and the apparent loss of confidence in our relations with Pakistan seem to be obstructing prospects of a permanent peace. [The Telegraph]

Rao argues that all ministers must have only one boss, the Prime Minister. If Sonia Gandhi’s abdication of responsibility really was the sanyas it was made out to be there was a chance that Manmohan Singh could rise to the occasion. Unfortunately, the Congress party president is very much on the scene, and worse, does nothing to protect the institution of the primacy of the Prime Minister. The ‘feel-good’ factor is the first victim of the UPA government’s stewardship.