Dr Manmohan Singh must go

The UPA government has lost its moral right to govern

He just made a scapegoat out of the armed forces…
The Indian prime minister went to address security forces fighting terrorists in Jammu & Kashmir and made a lecture on human rights the centrepiece of his address to them. It’s so easy isn’t it — to punch those folks who won’t punch you back. It may play well to a certain political theatre for the Indian prime minister to make the same sounds as the apologists of terrorism, but it makes little sense. There is no condoning any abuse of authority on the part of the security forces; but the appropriate, effective, and ultimately the only honourable way to address these is through internal channels of government, and down the chain of command. India’s war against terrorism is far from over and spectacularly damaging troop morale is a foolish way to prosecute it.

The Indian prime minister is neither an activist nor a plaintiff (and certainly not Gen Musharraf’s spokesman) — he and his cabinet are ultimately responsible for the armed forces. Indeed, if he feels that their conduct requires public excoriation, he should accept his responsibility in allowing such a sorry situation to come to pass. Unless he awoke to the need to respect human rights only this morning, his government has been unable to check their errant behaviour in the two years that it has been in power. Since human-rights abuses are no trifling matter, Dr Manmohan Singh should do the right thing and resign.

…and has already failed the youth
Doctors facing the water cannon - via Email from Anand SIt would have been reasonable to assume that a policy as important as reservations in education would have been introduced in a careful, well-considered and responsible manner. Instead his government dropped a bombshell on an unsuspecting nation, compelling the youth to to take to the streets, some missing classes and others losing jobs. And despite all the ruckus, despite all the shameful use of force against some of India’s brightest young people, despite the prospect of situation taking a turn for the worse, the UPA government and its allies resolutely announced that the new reservations policy will come into effect as early as the next academic year. The little concession it made — that the number of seats in the general merit category will be increased — makes little practical sense. It requires the Indian government to double its expenditure on higher education, and increase intake in educational institutions by half.

The impracticality of the whole thing struck the government as another afterthought, and it has since announced that the increase may now happen in phases. But even if the Indian government manages it, the business of increasing the number of seats is absurd, because while demand will increase, the number of seats will be fixed, albeit at a higher number. Even as the unfairness and the potential damage in this policy are palpable, his HRD minister could not even half articulate that the reservations policy is based on sound analysis and likely to achieve the lofty goals of social justice that it is ostensibly designed for.

The subtle Tiananmen, and wither economic reform?
The UPA government’s conduct cannot be described as insensitivity or apathy. It has long crossed over into the territory of callous disregard for the aspirations of a new generation of Indians. The Chinese Communist Party only did it tactlessly — the Cultural Revolution and Tiananmen Square resulted in China’s leaders appearing as an autocratic and murderous lot. India’s Congress party has and is doing it much more tactfully. At least the Chinese are making amends through reform of their economy. The debate over economic reform that was at the centre of national discourse when the UPA government took over is now quite dead.

Dr Manmohan Singh and his government must step down now. For its incompetence and ineptitude. But mostly because its continuation in power risks doing lasting damage to India’s society, economy and interests.

Update: Business Standard’s editorial on hopes belied, via Ajay Shah’s blog.

46 thoughts on “Dr Manmohan Singh must go”

  1. Unfortunate as it is, there appears to be significant wave of sympathy towards reservations. This is what I observed among bloggers & commentors, what to say of more than half the population of India which doesn’t reason things thoroughly (condescending but true), and of course, all those who benefit from reservations. Apparently, it is will of people, in real sense. But RDB doesn’t look unrealistic now after all those pictures of protestors being beaten. There should me internationa media coverage of such events to show the world how protests are rewarded in India to (hopefully) shame the Govt.

  2. Nitin,

    Calling it Tianmanen of India is apt. Hopefully the student protests will shake up the sycophants-of-congress and the left-parties, that are the root of this whole evil.

    PS: I recently became a regular reader of your blog. All I have to say is, it is an awesome blog!

  3. Dr singh is trying his best to win the Nobel Peace prize. I think he should better resign as PM of India and try for the Nobel Economics prize instead i’am sure he will win that quite easily.

    And i still don’t know why people think there is something “good” in “Socialism”. It is primarily an ideology which divides a given society into “Exploiting class” and “Exploited class”. It needs to create the “Other” against which the “masses” can be rallied against.

    In Russia it was the Romanovs, the landowners, bourgouise, kulaks and finally ur next door neighbours and ur family members.

    In China it was the Nationalists, landowners, intellectuals, party officials who did not serve tea, kids protesting on the streets for democracy, ur next door neighbour and ur family members.

    In India it is the Landowners, Upper castes, ur classmates, ur colleagues, kids protesting on the streets and ofcourse u and me the educated “elite” 🙂

  4. I was very dismayed when I heard about PM reprimanding our forces who are selflessly safeguarding this country’s interests. Instead he should have told the forces to show zero tolerance for the terrorists.
    I do agree with your reasons but I think as for now the present govt should stay as TINA. Even if NDA forms a govt, the OBC reservations will stay because of simple vote bank maths. Lets see what happens next year in the state elections and particularly in UP.

  5. Manmohan Singh’s is proving to be the most inept government India has had in the last 20 years, surpassing even Deve Gowda’s in its sheer imbecility, venality and cussedness.

  6. Its extremely stupid of him to give such a speech in front of security forces.I am also got sick of with the way reservation issue is handled and also yes as Ashish says also of some people showing symathy and supporting reservation issue. People don’t seem to understand that though problem may be genuine, reservation is not the answer to it.
    I completely agree with your arguments, but I am not sure whether Dr. Manmohan Singh stepping down is going to change anything.Has anyone noticed that there wasn’t a single politician supporting the youth protesting against reservation? If anything has to be changed it has to be by the people like us. Middle class is probably the most exploited class in the country and yet the most silent one, it needs to be changed. Of course, I am as clueless as anybody else as to how? 🙂

  7. Btw, I am told there was an SMS opinion poll on NDTV yesterday whether self rule was the solution to JK ‘problem’ and the majority was in favour of that. Looks like it was a doctored poll by NDTV to serve their self-interests.

  8. Its hard to respect this man anymore, the opposition used to keep saying that he’s just a puppet PM. His actions have truely proved them right. I hope the student protests keep intensifying. I heard that they are trying to collect funds to continue with the protests, please support them in whatever way possible.

  9. All that is required for the OBC quota to be buried or put on the backburner is BJP coming out openly in support of the anti-reservation students. But votebank politics will not allow them to do that. Exactly because of this, this agitation is a lost cause and I hate to write this.

  10. what does BJP’s stand has got to do with this agitation? there is a very mistaken belief or perhaps wishful thinking that the BJP is India’s Conservative party. IT IS NOT. The BJP is just a Left Wing party like the rest of the bunch. It too opposed the Reforms process in 1991 and during its rule it too had the sangh parivar outfits like SJM, Bajrang dal, VHP, BMS etc.. oppose its economic reform initiatives just like the commies are playing that role in the UPA now.

    The only point of difference between itself and all other parties is its Hindutva ideology.

    The students protesting on the streets today are the real political right.

  11. Apollo

    The analogy is incorrect. While BJP did oppose reform in 1991, during its tenure (i.e from 1998 to 2004), it shifted to pro reform position. Despite opposition from Sangh parivar, NDA government took measures to open up different sectors (telecom for instance).
    You should also keep in mind that this was accomplished while balancing 24 partners.
    In contrast to this under so called reformer the process of reform has stopped and in some cases (oil price control)even reversed. You should also consider that Indian public remains overwhelmingly socialist in outlook. A populace which considers entitlement and mai baap sarkaar as its birthright doesnt endorse free markets in a night, but NDA did try in that direction. In fact “India Shining” campaign while being clueless was overwhelmingly pro poor


  12. Dr Manmohan Singh will not go. He cannot go. He is the people’s choice. Granted that the choice is indirect, but choice nontheless made by those who voted for the constituent parties of the UPA government. Dr Manmohan Singh serves at the pleasure of Mrs Sonia Maino Gandhi, who serves at the pleasure of the parties that support the Italian government of India, who in turn serve at the pleasure of those who voted for those parties such as the Congress, the communist parties, and so on.

    India is a “democracy” which means that the government is representative of the wishes of the people. The people ultimately determine who will rule over them. The people have made their bed and they will have to lie in it.

    I do not blame Mrs S M Gandhi, I don’t blame Dr Manmohan Singh, I don’t blame the entire clan of ignorant evil bastards who are the politicians in this land–they are merely agents that were selected by the people who are the principals. Holding agents responsible for the actions of the principals is not fruitful. In the end, the buck stops with the people, the principals in this sordid affair.

    Sometimes I feel pity rather than rage at the ignorant stupidity of the masses. The poverty I see around me, I remind myself, is the collective karma (defined as the consequence of actions chosen by free agents) of the Indian people. They have over the decades sowed seeds that have to bear such bitter fruit. Try as hard as you may, you cannot escape the consequences of the choices that you have made in the past. It is the iron law of the universe.

    The sick feeling I get in the pit of my stomach when I see the horrors of poverty that little children have to suffer underlines for me the awful truth that the sins of the fathers are indeed visited upon the children.

    I am sorry that I am totally and absolutely disheartened and disgusted. I cannot offer a single ray of hope for this country. Dust to dust, ashes to ashed…

  13. It is not unusual for supposed Right wing and religious parties to take a socialist stand. the BJP is more like the christian democratic party of Germany. they are christian (religious right) plus socialist. this is very different from the conservative party of the UK which the BJP is not.

    well the NDA government’s pro-reform stand was not unique it was based on political consensus across the spectrum. what i was pointing out was that they too had a very left-wing orientation within their parivar and they had to deal with as much opposition within their party as say the congress does.

    maybe i will write a proper post by the end of today and send across the link. this has been one of my favorite topics 🙂

  14. Wow! This was exactly what I was thinking this morning – although I wasnt aware he practically disowned the Jawans.

    The Arjun Singh interview with Karan Thapar, which many celebrated as showing us that Arjun Singh didnt know what he was doing – actually pointed to the grim reality that this government is amongst the most power hungry we’ve seen in some time.
    And that means drastic action either from the citizens (we certainly miss having a JP now, dont we?) or a dismissal by the president, is the only way to evict the government. The latter means is pretty much ruled-out, so its upto the Aam Aadmi which this govt claims to represent, to kick it out.

  15. Apollo,

    Isn’t it a bit unrealistic to hope that India will have a genuine right wing party all of a sudden.
    In fact in past India has some form of right with Swatantra Party and even Jan Sangh not to mention right in Congress. But they were overwhelmed by the left.
    The reason for this is obvious, the gist of socialism is “Robbing money is a moral act” and “Poverty is a virtue to be feted”, it provides an excuse to the masses to shift the responsibility and consequences of their action onto others. Considering human nature socialism will always have an edge over capitalism in a democracy.

    By the way it is inaccurate to call Sangh Parivaar socialist, even though one of ideals of BJP is Gandhian socialism (!), as their aim was not distribution of wealth but protection of certain industrialists they were in fact protectionists (which I do not approve of).


    It is unfortunate that Indian academia and polity is infested with scums like communists and socialists. Unless they are weeded (excuse me for the butchering of language), Indian public will continue to be seduced by siren song of socialism


  16. Gaurav,

    I agree with ur points. but i do see some hope on the ground. the masses are not foolish infact they are better informed than many of us in some instances about what their local netas are upto. they know that this is just one of the many tricks to win votes which includes bootlegging, booth capturing, bribing, intimidation etc.. to win votes and they too are looking for a change. I think this is the right time for a true political right to emerge. but the catch is it should perform. whoever gets elected has to deliver the goods and consistently and the tipping point will not be far away. we can then pack off this socialist scum into the dustbin of history

  17. Gaurav,

    More than the polity, its the incestous relationship between the media and politicians – and the yellow journalism mostly that forms people’s opinion. Remove the yellow journalism, and we will see much lesser people espousing socialism

  18. Thank you Mr. Prime Minister for inspiring confidence in our nation-state and the people who face bullets for it.


    May your soul burn in hell.

    Atanu – thanks for putting in words the thoughts in many hearts.

    You can do root-cause analysis to finally put the blame on the teeming masses but it does not take away the responsibility of the Prime Minister. He is oath-bound to protect the national interests of India.

  19. Nitin, good post. Who would you rather have as PM? Pranab or Arjun? or the Queen herself? Manmohan needs to warm the seat until the beloved yuvaraj is ready.

    Atanu, we, Indians, get disheartned when events like this happens because we expect the government solve our problems. We’ll be a better nation when we finally realize that we have to solve those problems ourselves and not wait for government. Mass poverty will take generations to irradiate in normal economies. India being an abnormal economy,it will take few more generations than usual. But don’t look to government for magical solutions. We have to by creating enterprises and generating jobs. There is no ism that will reduce poverty.

  20. Chandra wrote addressing me: “Atanu, we, Indians, get disheartned when events like this happens because we expect the government solve our problems. We’ll be a better nation when we finally realize that we have to solve those problems ourselves and not wait for government.”

    Expecting others — the government, for instance — is silly and retarded. I do not expect others to solve my problems.

    India’s problems are due to the people of India. An enlightened and rich nation cannot have a ignorant and miserable government; conversely, an ignorant nation of retards cannot have a brilliant and progressive government. The people and the government fully deserve each other and indeed are karmically bound together.

    I am sorry but I am coming around to the position that caught between the Islamic neighbors outside the borders and the Papal surrogates within, it is unlikely that the nation has much of a future. BPO and IT enclaves cannot save a nation that is mostly illiterate and largely uneducated.

  21. More I see the Manmohan government, the more I am inclined to take away the credit of 1991 reforms from Dr. Singh and give it to the person who deserves that honor: PV Narasimha Rao.

  22. Niket, you are totally correct in your suspicion that it was PVNR who was behind the reforms of 1991. I have been told by credible sources about that.

  23. Atanu, but there is something to be said about leadership though (which we sorely lack), don’t you think?

    Well Narashima Rao hired the good Dr, didn’t he. There was lot of opposition to kick starting reforms at that time too and without the political will of PV nothing would have changed.

  24. The Great Lip Service continues. Just like Gaurav Sabnis pointed out the ‘choice’ his government offered to the private sector with respect to job reservations, Manmohan Singh says the quota matter is ‘settled’.

    “I am pained to see the agonising experience the youth of the country are undergoing. They should call off their strike and I assure that the government will find a viable and credible way to protect the interest of all sections of the society,” Singh said adding “I think the matter is already settled.”

    Asked if he will meet the representative of the striking students, the Prime Minister said “I am not averse to meeting any group of our citizens, if they want to talk to me.” [IE/PTI]

  25. Chandra, I am more or less stating a tautological truth about the leadership of a nation reflects the character of the people. “When the student is ready, the teacher appears” is another way of expressing that same endogeniety. Sure there are exceptions to this general rule. Sometimes a leader takes the helm who is not cut from the same cloth and who fundamentally changes the character of the people. But aside from these minor aberrations, the quality of the leadership has to be consonant with the people. Ayatollahs arise in Islamic populations, Popes in Catholic, foreign rulers among slave populations.

    With a very minor break (between the death of Jawaharlal Nehru and the end of the BJP administration), India has been ruled by foreigners for many many centuries. Does not speak too highly of the Indian character, does it?

    Bloody depressing conclusion but I am unable to avoid it.

  26. Manmohan Singh appears to be neither decent nor honest as his media spin-doctors claim. He knows he is powerless. He is helpless in the face of his own colleagues routinely sidestepping his authority and taking key policy decisions unilaterally. Whenever a decision is taken in that manner, instead of cracking the whip against the erring minister, MMS gets his PR men to put out pitiable stories explaining why the PM can’t be blamed. It is clear as crystal that his team neither obeys nor respects his leadership. For a man touted to be a reformer, he is not able to effect a single significant economic reform.

    Any decent and honest leader in a similar situation would quit and save his honour than blunder aimlessly on. Why is Manmohan Snigh so attached to his chair? Why is there such a great mismatch between the projection of the man’s nature and abilities and the stark reality? Perhaps it’s time to check the premise: is he really the decent, honest and capable man he is claimed to be? Or is he just another loyal poodle of the dynasty, enjoying — and not willing to give up — the rewards for his loyalty?

    I’m beginning to suspect that the the image of MMS as being capable, honest, well-meaning etc is in reality a media-manufactured myth, one which serves both him and the dynasty well. Manmohan Singh is none of these. He is your garden-variety Congress politician. He doesn’t have a pot belly, he doesn’t sport a topi, and his IAS background is a red-herring.

  27. Anon, you wrote:
    Any decent and honest leader in a similar situation would quit and save his honour than blunder aimlessly on. Why is Manmohan Singh so attached to his chair? Why is there such a great mismatch between the projection of the man’s nature and abilities and the stark reality? Perhaps it’s time to check the premise: is he really the decent, honest and capable man he is claimed to be? Or is he just another loyal poodle of the dynasty, enjoying — and not willing to give up — the rewards for his loyalty?

    I have nothing to add, but what you wrote bears repeating, in bold.

  28. Thanks Atanu and others for your comments. It is somewhat comforting to know that there are others who feel the same despair and hopelessness at this moment.

    Years from now, I will remember this as the moment when I gave up on India, no longer saw myself as a stake-holder. As a NRI, I will not suffer from this dreadful policy making, but I will feel the dull pain of being a person without a country.

    Others have already pointed out all that is painful in this episode. Let me point out the patroninsing attitiude of President and the impotent PM when they urge the medical students to be “good” and to “go back to their studies”. First, the old fuck the young, and then they give them homilies about doing their duty.

  29. Shiv Sharan, I should say you are lucky.

    I graduated from one of the premier institutes. I remained in India, more for family reasons than out of a sense of patriotic duty. There was a time when I was free to emigrate and seriously considered the H1B option, but that moment somehow passed.

    My children are growing up. And I am worried. Emigrating at this point in my career means to lose all that I have built, and to start it all over again. It’s my career vs my kids’ future.

  30. RR,

    Yes, easy for us NRI types to shed tears and urge action from a distance- but please go ahead and add your voice to the protestors. Be one of that crowd- that is the minimum that and perhaps the maximum that most of us can do. It is the least you can do for your children. “Main to Akhela Hi Ja Ra Tha Jaani-be-Manzil” etc.

    An no I don’t think it is too late to migrate. I have seem people as old as 50 migrate- and after a period of struggle- go on to lead stable lives. It helps if your spouse works too-a kind of a backup. And yes, I have seen it backfire too when people arrive in the new country very late. But you will have friends and moral support…

    Sometimes I think it was a curse to be born Indian, or even in any large country. I think people from large countries look at the world with a “country-identity” in a way people from small countries do not. How oddly liberating it must be to live in the world without the burden of an “Indian” identity. But I can only wish that. For this life, NRI or not, that bitch India will keep plauging my thoughts, and I will be forever worried about the future of a billion people

    Shiv Sharan

  31. Shiv Sharan: You must know that “giving up” on one’s nation is, ultimately, a cowardful act and what we see is but a macro-manifestation of the cowardice of people of character.

    Atanu: What you say about Indian Character is a conclusion I too had reached quite recently; but one need not be as disheartened.

    The problems we are facing is because we think of liberal democracy as a “natural” political structure while giving nary a thought as to what is the moral character that is required of the peoples as a prerequisite.

    With democracy, you’re also going to have populism and pandering-based supply side politics that would myopically grasp for short term benefits of one section of society at the expense of the other, in a way that harms all sections, both materially and spiritually. Rich vs Poor. Business vs Consumer. Forward vs Backward Castes. Etcetera. Economy, Society, Religion: all are torn apart.

    The only thing that can guard against this are suitable moral values: an ethic that values self-respect over dependency; an ethic that values enterprisingness over inertia, an ethic that respects, most important of all, classical liberal values.

    We Indians do not have that. So the democracy instead of being liberal, shall lead to a further degradation of moral character.

    The question we should ask is not how come our democracy is so bad; we should ask how come it is so good!
    Look at Africa, look at South Asian nations other than India: none of these have properly functioning democracies.
    Their moral character does not allow democratic self-government, and yet they’re grappling with it, with sad consequences.

    Once we realize the reversal of the causality between moral character and civilizational political structures, the solutions also become visible.

    First is to shore up our social institutions, those of religion, those of education: that shall indoctrinate our children with the appropriate moral values.

    Second, is to look for socio-political solutions tha reflect our character but that shall also nudge it towards classical liberalism and towards being fit for democracy.

    For instance, suppose you have an unenterprising, morally depraved set of people who lack strength of character. How do you lead them to overthrow an enslaving empire? Mahatma Gandhi did just that, by using “non-violence” which requires fairly minimal co-ordination and enterprisingness, but which was still successful. We need to look for such socio-political solutions that’ll be suited to our character.

  32. The reservations issue has been handled as badly as anything.
    Next thing I know, parliament may wellpass a law requiring that 30% OBC quota for Indian idol contestants….

  33. It appears that the public opposition to Mandal-I (in terms of the number of people at the protests, demonstrations) may have been actually more than in Manda-II….any comments on that ?


  34. http://www.ncsociology.org/sociationtoday/v21/merit.htm

    I invite you all to read through that link. I believe that I went to that link through reddit, but I am not sure.

    Briefly, that article argues that meritocracy in the US is complete fiction.

    I notice almost all people here have argued against reservation in India (affirmative action in US). I see very few dissenting voices.

    How much of India’s population is (really and) negatively affected by this removal of meritocracy? Is it a normal distribution i.e more than 90% are negatively affected?


    A lot less will be affected.

    How do you get into IIT and IIM? I am talking of IIT JEE, IIT GATE, IIM CAT.

    With money to send for preparation classes, with foresight from your family who know that these particular institutions are amongst the best, with financial/emotional support (beta, dont worry just study, we will take care of feeding you).

    Most of us here are anomalies, the top 10% of India’s population.

    Meritocracy doesn’t always work.

    Of course, it is class warfare. But the reality is that the middle-class doesn’t vote, and the overall impression is that the boom is not reaching the poor. Most (insert your description here) people in India don’t know what is what, except for the middle class and the rich, who at least talk and can find out.

    How do the poor people in the city slums/small towns/villages without the knowledge access going to know how to prepare for IIT or IIM or whatever? The entrance exams are skewed against them anyway.

    My brainwashed-from-childhood mind revolts at this futile gesture, but my trying-to-think-impartial mind is what made me post here at such a late hour.

  35. Amit,

    I don’t believe that most people on this board are “anti-reservation”. “Anti-Reservation” catched a variety of positions- from the castist “Those OBC s are dumb” to the “We need AA, but this policy is stupid”.

    Go read Pratap Bhanu Mehta’s letter.

    The despair is in the state of the polity: that a very sensitive piece of policy was thrust down our throats without even the pretense of a dialog


  36. To hell with all ism’s. we only aim to do what is best for the country
    Wow. really good bloggers here. i should try to find my answers somewhere else.

  37. to #41

    it’s perfectly possible to make the moral point that capitalism emerges dripping with blood and gore (as Marx does ‘das ist der doux commerce’..’there are your gentle arts of commerce’) without collapsing capitalism into a night were all cows are grey. I don’t want to be pedantic about it, but I really think it’s crucial that capital is in the later marxist sense a social relation, and therefore a fundamental alteration in the class structure had to occur before capitalists could come to exist. This means that capitalism couldn’t have been developing in the ‘interstices’ without such a transformation.

  38. The worst fears of the xenophobic right about the Red Italian Candidate, Sonia Gaandi have been proved right. She has undoubtedly justified the highest hopes of the ever nameless enemies of India (perhaps the infamous “Foreign Hand!”) who planted her as a sleeper candidate (quite literally) to destroy all hopes on India turning into a developed and modern nation. And Manmohan Singh, on whom people like me had placed high hopes, has proved once again that he is a typical Indian bureaucrat, ever eager to lick the ass (if you will excuse the language) of whoever holds the keys to power. While PVNR was in power, Manmohan was a reformist – now that Sonia Gaandi rules, he is happy to be a communist.

    What amazes me is how markets are completely ignoring the deterioration in economic fundamentals – a current account surplus has been turned into a large and increasing deficit, partly driven by this government’s obdurate refusal to hike fuel prices and bring down consumption; the complete end to all kinds of reforms; attempts to destroy the very institutions (IITs, IIMs, AIIMS) that have created the perception of India as a source of quality talent and most pernicious of all, the plan to introduce reservations in higher education. Undoubtedly markets will wake up one day, funds will flow out and the Reds will cite that as a reason to close our economy even further.

    More on this will appear shortly at my blog.

  39. Maybe, its time for India to go? After all, Soviets lasted what – 74 years? India has close to 30 states, hundreds of languages, castes, creeds, dozens of religions (and I aint even counting mine). India has been around for 59 years now – so perhaps its just about around the corner?

  40. That seven_times_six guy up there is seriously hilarious. He should write joke books

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