What can we do when the most academically accomplished prime minister a nation could wish for lets his ministers run riot?

The day IIMs succumbed was truly a sad day, because we felt even smaller

Pratap Bhanu Mehta writes to the Indian Institutes of Management.

10 thoughts on “What can we do when the most academically accomplished prime minister a nation could wish for lets his ministers run riot?”

  1. We are duping ourselves beieving that the PM is helpless. Far from it, he is a willing party to the government’s machinations. To get to know what Mr Singh approves and disapproves of, just read the Indian Express’s “news” and editorial sections. These are a faithful reflection of MMS’s voice, not Mehta’s column which is an aberration.

  2. To answer the question that Pratap Bhanu Mehta rhetorically asks is this. What we can do is to stop pretending that we are a mature democracy. We are most definitely not. The sham democracy did not choose Dr Manmohan Singh; it chose Sonia Gandhi. Then Sonia Gandhi chose Dr Singh, not for his intellectual strength but for his ability to ask how high when he is told to jump. India most certainly deserves the leaders that it gets. It is time to face up to the facts. India is a cargo cult democracy.

  3. RR,

    True. At the very least, it is wrong to continue to call Dr Singh ‘a man of integrity’. He can’t be distinguished from the rest in this respect.

    And the ‘most academically accomplished’ credential should count against him, given the performance of this government. An ignoramus can be personally excused for making a mess of things, on the basis of his ignorance. An academically accomplished person is guilty of wilfully running the country to the ground.

  4. Thanks for the link to the outstanding article by Mr Mehta.

    I remember how they beat up Dr Joshi on the fee reduction issue. For the life of me, I could not understand what that was about. Now they lube up.

    Men of straw.

  5. Manu, here is what I mean by a cargo cult democracy

    In the case of India, we have a cargo cult democracy. It looks like one with electronic voting machines and election speeches and manifestos, with pollsters and pundits, with election commissioners and voting stations. Only the deep backend is missing. There is no understanding of issues of substance among the people who vote. Put up a name which is recognizable, and they would vote for or against that name. Promise enough freebies (free electricity, for instance) and they will vote for you, never mind that it may bankrupt the state and that eventually it will impoverish the same voting public. For democracy to work, you need accountability—both among those who vote and those who are elected. In an area where the government is seen as a source for endless handouts by the people, and the leaders look upon their stint in the driving seat as an excellent opportunity to steal from the public, democracy is not likely to work. All the talk about the smart voter is so much hogwash that the mind boggles.

    (May 2004)

    Do check out the whole post as it makes the case a little better.

  6. From that article,

    >>>>> There was also the odour of double standard in what you did. When Murli Manohar Joshi had, in the name of justice, sought to regulate fees, cries of autonomy immediately went up. When Arjun Singh passes an order that is at least as serious, if not more so, there is quiet acceptance.

    Everyone knows that you can cry “Gujarat! Godhra !! Down with Nazis* ” OR “Communal, rabid minister tries to cut IIM autonomy” with MM Joshi, you cannot do that with Arjun Singh and the Congressi goons. They will stifle, oppress, create red-tape and hurdles for you.. the old nehru-indira style politicians never forgive or forget.
    ( *Interestingly enough, the Nazis were Marxists!! It was called German Workers Socialist party or something before Nazi, and they were friends of Soviets till the war. Strange how this term is used to denote right-wingers. Is it like – Keep shouting those lies everywhere till they are accepted as truth? )

  7. Speaking of double standards, here is another glaring example:

    In 2003, when the BJP-Shiv Sena called for a bandh in Mumbai, they were fined !


    And when recently, the DMK (which incidentally is in the Govt, not even in the opposition) in TN called for a bandh against the SC ruling (of all things), there was not even a whimper!

    My bandh is better than yours?

  8. OK. Most people will agree with your assertion that India is not there yet when it comes to being a democracy. For that matter no country is. Even the US can’t claim to be a fully-fledged democracy, which follows the democracy to the T. It’s not an exact science nor should it be one. I sense a lot of frustation here with respect to India’s political elite. My question is: What are we doing about this? What are you doing about this? What am I doing about this? Zero. Zilch. Naada. Shunya. A very strong will is required to rise above petty politics and think about India and its peoples. We have to start somewhere. The current crop of political leaders are incompetent to say the least. NRIs pouring money into start-ups, infrastructure, technology and the economic backbone is all right and even required. But what about the political landscape?

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