How wrong Manmohan Singh is

He advocates a false morality to disguise his government’s failures

Dr Manmohan Singh the prime minister has routinely relied on platitudes (instead of on incentives) to motivate the UPA government’s policies. But he is getting even the platitudes wrong. In a country where the average annual per capita income hovers around an unacceptably low US$1000, he wants people to earn less. Why? Because, according to him, earning less, and expecting to earn less, is a national duty.

By equating a degree of self-sacrifice with national duty, the PM has tried to make a moral argument. He has said that this is what corporates and highly paid executives owed in the endeavour to contain prices and keep the overall growth momentum on track. While this has a populist touch and will appeal to an opinion that is ready to view corporates as “fat cats”, private employment is increasingly the preferred option for most educated persons.

Sectors characterised by “significant market power” in the hands of a few producers have a societal obligation to assist the government in moderating inflationary expectations, the PM rounded off. [TOI]

He has gotten it exactly wrong. The national duty of every citizen is to make as much money as legally possible. Anyone who suggests otherwise cannot have the best interests of the Indian people at heart. Oh, he’s only referring to the top executives, you say? Well, first, depressing wages at the top will cascade down and result in lower earnings for everyone in the pyramid (just as increasing wages at the top will increase wages for everyone). And as a matter of principle, just how does making the rich earn less help the nation? In fact, it does just the opposite. It would have been one thing for Dr Singh to call upon the rich to deepen the culture of philanthropy. But to equate “self-sacrifice” with “national duty” is dangerous nonsense.

Dr Singh shamelessly masks his government’s failure to ensure free, competitive markets—and prevent the build up of significant market power—by claiming that monopolists have societal obligations. That’s dangerous nonsense too. The solution to the build-up of market power is further liberalisation and effective regulatory oversight. Dr Singh’s admission that there are sectors where companies have significant market power calls for moving forward with the economic reform process. Just what happened to the privatisation (okay, disinvestment) agenda?

We have said this before, and we say again: Dr Manmohan Singh has done immense harm to India’s future. The evil that he has done will live long after him. The good was interr’d with P V Narasimha Rao’s bones. Corporate India would do well to ignore the shameless moral poseur. Yes, it’s late in the day for this government. But Dr Singh should go. [See previous calls.]

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17 Responses to How wrong Manmohan Singh is

  1. Krishna Aradhi 30th April 2008 at 11:51 #

    I sometimes wonder what’s wrong with him. If the very man who liberalized the Indian economy in the 1990s is saying such things, we can only conclude that he has either gone senile or he has finally joined the League of Hypocritical Politicians.

  2. Nitin 30th April 2008 at 12:54 #

    Krishna,

    He was not the man who liberalised the economy. It was P V Narasimha Rao. To claim that he was responsible is like saying that the oven baked the cake. Dr Singh was the oven, but Mr Rao was the baker. Of course, as someone pointed out in a comment on this blog recently, Mr Rao was cast out of the Congress Party for doing such a good job. No Congress leader turned up at his funeral.

    We are now paying the price of expecting the oven to bake us cakes. With expected results.

  3. Krishna Aradhi 30th April 2008 at 13:09 #

    Nitin,

    Thanks for pointing that out. I guess I was under the wrong impression about Manmohan Singh till now.

    The tragedy now is that we do not have a good Indian baker at the helm anymore, right? I hope this changes in the next general elections.

  4. Ravindra 30th April 2008 at 13:31 #

    I agree with Nitin. PVN was by far the best PMs we have had so far. On almost all fronts – the economy, foreign policy, Punjab, nuclear tests, Hindu resurgence, exposing corrupt politicians, – he had it all.

    It is tragic that some people like to remember him for some of the old skeletons which conveniently started tumbling out of the cupboard when he was in power. I really wonder if cases like Lakhubhai Pathak’s etc. would have surfaced had Rajiv Gandhi not been assassinated and PVN gone into retirement?

  5. history_lover 30th April 2008 at 14:38 #

    PVN Rao was cast out because of his inaction on the Babri Masjid demolition and because of his attempt to move out of the Nehru-gandhi shadow.

  6. AG 30th April 2008 at 14:44 #

    PVNR was given a beggars funeral.

    He had committed the cardinal sin of attempting to lead the country despite not being a Nehru-Gandhi.

  7. kaangeya 30th April 2008 at 17:03 #

    MMS lost his nerve many years ago. Today he is just another party hack.

  8. S Jagadish 1st May 2008 at 00:11 #

    I’m assuming that the PM doesn’t realize that self-sacrifice and frugality can begin at ‘home’. Can he ensure that his fellow parliamentarians don’t waste tax-payer money in the form of needless arguments, walk-outs, adjournments over tiffs, adjournments because the cousin of a step-brother of some former minister/Parliamentarian/state-level legislator died?

  9. Sharat 1st May 2008 at 15:00 #

    As far as i know…the more the person earns…the higher taxes he pays…..the more he contributes to the Government exchequer…..
    what’s wrong with this?

  10. The Rational Fool 1st May 2008 at 21:03 #

    Sharat,
    Everything except “the more the person earns…” :)

  11. Nanda Kishore 2nd May 2008 at 06:19 #

    I think the most appropriate word I can summon up for our PM is ‘tosser’. Really, what a tosser!!! The canard about this tosser being the ‘father’ of economic reforms (we seem to be obsessed with fathers) has been drummed into every Indian who is tuned in to media rubbish.

  12. Chandra 3rd May 2008 at 00:40 #

    What else does one expect from someone who reads Chomsky! Don’t we deserve a prime minister who at least has the intelligence not to read Chomsky…

    “Of course, as someone pointed out in a comment on this blog recently, Mr Rao was cast out of the Congress Party for doing such a good job. No Congress leader turned up at his funeral.”

    True. It was Chandrababu Naidu of TDP (main opposition to Congress I) who build a samadhi for PV at the Sanjeevaiah Park in Hyderabad because the corrupt congress refused to recognize PV’s existence and death on maharani Sonia’s petty insistence. And now because of his immense contribution to Hyderabad, we have a Rajiv Gandhi International Airport at Hyderabad – I am sure he stopped over once!

  13. gaurav 7th July 2008 at 23:08 #

    I feel disgusted that someone as incapable as Manmohan Singh has been “elected” to the highest office in our country. None of his academic credentials seem to have in any way influenced his judgement or foresight. The arrogance with which he has dealt with the objections to the nuclear agreement makes one wonder if there is something fishy going on. Till now he was only known as spineless, now he would probably be known for a lot worse. I would rather have someone as rustic and scheming as Laloo Prasad as the next PM, at least he has half a brain.

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