Sack Shivraj

Incompetence is perhaps his lesser crime

In one of his famous annual reports, General Electric’s Jack Welch classified managers into four types, according to their performance and their values. The first were those who delivered results and lived by the values espoused by the organisation. For them, the “sky is the limit”. The second were those who missed their targets, but lived by their values—these, according to Mr Welch, deserved a second chance. For Mr Welch the “the toughest call of all was the manager who doesn’t share the values, but delivers the numbers”. This type of manager had to sacked “because they have the power, by themselves, to destroy the…culture we need to win.” He didn’t have to say it, but the easiest call of all was the manager who “doesn’t share the values; doesn’t make the numbers”. That person had to be shown the door.

Now, that Shivraj Patil has been an “unmitigated disaster” at the home ministry has been clear for some time. The charitable explanation for his brazen denial of his ministry’s decision to intern illegal Bangladeshi immigrants in camps is cluelessness—that he didn’t quite know what policies his ministry was coming up with. Considering that the question of illegal immigration is among the more important ones for his ministry, his cluelessness further confirms the allegations of incompetence against him.

If competence were the only criteria—as it ought to be in a country were a significant fraction of the population is poor, and hence can least afford the luxury of incompetent leaders—Mr Patil should have been sacked a long time ago. In fact, voters had already sacked him in the Lok Sabha elections of 2004. It was the Congress Party that inserted him—like Prime Minister Manmohan Singh himself—into the Cabinet.

Mr Patil’s failings though are not merely in the area of competence. His greater failing, arguably, is in the domain of values. Now it is acceptable—though highly objectionable—for someone to see moral equivalence between the death sentence of an Indian citizen guilty of terrorism in India by the Supreme Court of India and the death sentence handed out to an Indian citizen pronounced guilty of espionage and terrorism in Pakistan by the Pakistani judiciary. But that someone cannot be a member of the Cabinet. There are such things as values: constitutionalism, due process, transparency, independence of institutions and rule of law. If Mr Patil can’t see the difference in the processes that led to the similar result—the death sentence—he reveals a lack of basic values that disqualify him from any position of constitutional office. [via Rational Fool]

In fact, Mr Patil’s comparison of the two cases reveals a deeper flaw in his understanding. If Sarabjit Singh was indeed a spy, then the UPA government should not have succumbed to the pressure to ask for the waiver of his death sentence. In this scenario, official intervention on Mr Singh’s behalf was a foreign policy mistake. On the other hand, if the UPA government knows that Mr Singh is innocent, then surely, hanging him is injustice. So how is Pakistan’s hanging of an innocent man similar to India’s hanging of a man declared guilty by the Supreme Court? The only explanation is that Mr Patil is implying that Mr Mohd Afzal is innocent. He has no authority to do that—the task before the President, and the Cabinet which will advise her, is whether or not Mr Mohd Afzal deserves clemency, not whether he’s innocent or guilty. [See an earlier post on death sentence dilemma].

India must be the only country in the world where the government finds ever more dubious reasons to prevent a convicted terrorist—guilty of planning an attack on the national parliament—from being punished according to the law.

Just how shameful is Mr Patil’s statement? Compare his views with those of Sukhpreet Kaur, Mr Singh’s wife. “Myself and my daughters would never like Sarabjit freed in exchange for any hardcore Pakistani terrorist lodged in Indian jails” she said, “nothing is above the nation and we can’t go against the interests of our motherland.”

Neutron Jack would have no qualms in sacking Mr Patil. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, though, is quite unlikely to do so. Neither performance nor values matter to this government. It has already robbed from India’s material future. It is also robbing India’s national dignity. Yet it is important for us, the shareholders, to demand his sacking.

A version of this post appears in Saturday’s Mail Today, in an op-ed titled “It’s high time Shivraj Patil was shown the door”

63 thoughts on “Sack Shivraj”

  1. Hello Nilu,

    “My point is simple — Patil simply stated a fact.”

    I don’t find your argument convincing. It is bereft of logic and reason. Home ministers don’t state random “facts”. Patil has not said, for example, that “cow eats grass and yields milk”, which is also a fact. When the home minster states a “fact”, he has got to be making a point using that “fact”. What is the point Patil is making here?

    Let us start with it and see how it leads or doesn’t lead to a moral equivalence.

  2. Hi Nilu,

    “In other words, I don’t have an argument — I am just saying Nitin’s is invalid”

    You are wrong. To claim that Nitin’s argument is invalid, is also an argument. Furthermore, you are not able to buttress this argument with solid reason, except repeat yourself ad nauseum. Let’s see if you can proceed in a logical manner to prove your argument. You need to begin by answering the question I put to you above.

  3. Hi Jai, how do you do.

    “Probably reached the end of the road for logical arguments.”

    Problem is that it did NOT begin with any logical argument. Nilu muttered some mumbo-jumbo about ternary solutions in a quadruple space governed by quintuple parameters, but did not otherwise offer any logical argument.

    Let us see if he will respond to the course correction I’m attempting.

  4. impressive quotes and arguments over a very simple logic
    I too don’t see how Patils’s statement implies that he is considering them to be equivalent. Maybe he meant them to be quivalent. But the statement alone does not state that.

  5. Sarabjit’s and Afzal Guru’s cases are similar in the sense that each is considered innocent in the other country. It is easy to see the parallel. However you and most of the commentors that flock here are communalists, hence generally incapable of common sense.

  6. bunty (Comment no.56)

    “Sarabjit’s and Afzal Guru’s cases are similar in the sense that each is considered innocent in the other country. It is easy to see the parallel.”

    Lets get some facts straight. Sarabjit is an Indian who is sentenced to death in Pakistan. Afzal Guru is an Indian who is sentenced to death in India.

    Unless, of course, you believe that Kashmir is a part of Pakistan – which, we “communalists” do not believe so, and will not let it happen!

  7. And he has done it again. This time he thinks that people are wrong in criticiszing him for his dress changes during Delhi balasts. This man just doesnt seem to understand irony. When Bodies of indians were lying in parks and roads, this man was more concerned about appearing neat on TV.

    Can someone get him out of minstry pelase!! Or stop him from mouting those platidues about “we must maintain calm…all the culprits will be caught”… what a sissy.

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