Posts Tagged ‘Manmohan Singh’

Can I ever live this down …

April 23, 2012 1 comment

Was Manmohan Singh badly advised. At that level, unlikely.

With the collapse of Soviet Union, the US became the single global power. With that position came adulation fro client states.  |  A 1992 cartoon By David Horsey  |  Published December 27, 2011  |  Click for image.

With the collapse of Soviet Union, the US became the single global power. With that position came adulation from client states. | A 1992 cartoon By David Horsey | Published December 27, 2011 | Click for image.

Looking back

Over the last 65 years, Indian foreign policy has been a remarkable record in response to global realities.

Broadly Indian foreign policy has gone through 3 different phases, based on the shifting situations and power balances. Remarkably independent, it has been attacked usually without complete understanding.

But even to the most accommodating analyst, this incident has left most people puzzled.

Manmohan Singh leads the largest democracy on earth. But India’s prime minister is gentle of manner and speaks in whispers. One struggles to imagine him professing love without shyness to his own wife. And so it meant something when he recently laid the L-word on a little-loved man: George W. Bush.

“This may be my last visit to you during your presidency,” Mr. Singh told Mr. Bush in Washington in September, “and let me say, Thank you very much. The people of India deeply love you.”

Laura Bush is not alone, after all. (via India Has a Soft Spot for Bush –

At such levels, leaders are well-advised – and are unlikely to behave like loose cannons. One day, I would like to understand this ‘incident’ better.

Till then …

Lethargy As Opinion

August 16, 2011 3 comments

Examining governance records of selected ten premiere post-WWII governments across the world could throw up some surprises.

Colonial motivations

The British Raj needed to mock and diminish the Indian politician. The Indian political leader was trying to dislodge the colonial Government from their position of power. Churchill’s famous descriptions of Gandhiji as ‘that naked fakir’ and Indian politicians as ‘men of straw’ was a sentiment shared across ruling elites in Britain.

Seems like in India, too

Post-independence, this mockery of the Indian politician has only grown. This criticism, carping and mockery has no basis in fact – statistics, measurements, performance metrics. Anything at all.

The drag government’s been on the Indian story is astonishing. No government in the world’s been such a burden to a country. It’s done none of the things it’s meant to while it seems to eye private success with greed. There’s only so long this frame can hold…

One of the things making me happiest in America was the man coming up was celebrated. In India, I sense disgust, revulsion for that person, that he should suddenly have aspirations, riches, ambitions. In Noon, I’ve tried to get at this. (via ‘I think of myself as Indian in a sense that includes Pakistan’ – Page 2 – Times Of India).

Aatish Taseer, whose books and writings have been met with much fanfare, publicity and soundbites, is another one who bites into the dust of empty criticism.

If we are to examine governance records of selected ten premiere post-WWII governments across the world, Taseer’s emptiness (he is not alone) will stand exposed.

These 10 governments four from Europe (France, Germany, Italy and UK), two from South America (Argentina and Brazil) Japan and USA, China and India. Looking back at the 65 years after WWII (1945-2010), the context and strategies of these ten countries throws up some surprises. India would definitely be a part of the Top-3 anyway that such a performance can be rated.

Image source and courtesy -

Image source and courtesy -

Just on what basis have other governments have done better? All that bedevils Indian governance are present in all other countries. And the answer to all that ails ‘modern’ governance, can only come from India.

You can do a 10 country evaluation here and vote. And maybe, Taseer-miya …

You should read about भारत-तंत्र Bharat-tantra, .

Rahul baba is coming – Drumbeats get louder …

November 19, 2010 Leave a comment
Trial by media - on an unprecedented scale. 3 senior politicians scalped. Corruption being made a hot-button issue. Rahul baba wins with his 'clean' image. (Cartoonist - Ajit Ninan; courtesy - Click for larger image.

Trial by media - on an unprecedented scale. 3 senior politicians scalped. Corruption being made a hot-button issue. Rahul baba wins with his 'clean' image. (Cartoonist - Ajit Ninan; courtesy - Click for larger image.

Drumbeats get louder.

It is Rahulbaba’s footsteps that you are hearing. An unprecedented media campaign based on the ‘corruption’ hot-button.

Kalmadi resigns on CWG issue. A.Raja resigns on the 2G scam. CBI arrests CWG officials. CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General) report criticizes Telecom Minister. Supreme courts questions PM on 2G scam.

2ndlook had outlined the following situation nearly 2 months ago – post linked above. The projections seems to be getting real …

What if …

Manmohan Singh takes moral ‘responsibility’. Resigns. Congress veterans beseech Rahul to ‘save’ the country, ’empower’ the youth, and ‘renew’ the Congress party structure with its glorious tradition.

A ‘reluctant’ Rahulbaba immediately rejects the idea. He expresses full confidence in Manmohan Singh’s leadership – and his moral stature.

The charade

Manmohan Singh submits his resignation to his party’s president. She urges him withdraw or at least reconsider his decision. Manmohan Singh refuses.

15 days later, after repeated requests from Manmohan Singh, and under ‘great pressure’ from party workers, Sonia accepts Manmohan Singh’s resignation and Rahulbaba accepts the post of Prime Minister.

Rahul-baba must save the country! (Cartoonist - Ajit Ninan;

Rahul-baba must save the country! (Cartoonist - Ajit Ninan; Click for larger image.

A plausible scenario …?

Endgame for Manmohan Singh?

September 29, 2010 Leave a comment
(Montage courtesy - Sunday Magazine of Faking News dated 30 May 2010.). Click for larger image.

(Montage courtesy - Sunday Magazine of Faking News dated 30 May 2010.). Click for larger image.

Tom-tom drums

In the deep jungles of Indian politics, tom-tom drums are beating. Some people who know how to read these drum-beats are saying that the message reads “Rahul baba is coming … Rahul baba is coming …”

Will Indira Gandhi inspire Rahul Gandhi

It is some 15 months of UPA-II. Will it be like the 1971 election of Indira Gandhi. Leading a lame-duck, Government for two years, after a flurry of populist tokens, like abolition of privy purses, bank nationalisation, Indira Gandhi called for ‘garibi hatao’ and an election.

Will we see an ouster of Manmohan, installation of Rahul Gandhi as PM, another flurry of populist tokens – and an election in 12-18 months.

Going by personal experience, the few 2ndlook posts in the last 3 months, on Rahul Gandhi have had unusual traffic. Reader interest has been higher than what the content would justify.

Listening posts

A report in The Times Of India reads

our economist PM’s lack of leadership gets manifested best in his absolute abdication of responsibility on issues concerning the country’s economy … foodgrains continue to rot for want of storage space … even as Naxals continue to kill our forces at will … the home minister’s response suggests it to be a ‘law and order’ problem, Digvijay Singh thinks otherwise … as the killing spree continues, the government’s absentee railway minister addresses a massive rally at Lalgarh with Maoist support and even supports an investigation into the death of a Naxal commander.

Cartoon date - Sep 06, 2010; Cartoon by - Sandeep Adhwaryu; cartoon courtesy - Click for larger image.

Cartoon date - Sep 06, 2010; Cartoon by - Sandeep Adhwaryu; cartoon courtesy - Click for larger image.

Pranab Mukherjee disapproves of Mamata Banerjee’s antics. But soon the Congress’s own heir apparent takes a dangerous left turn. Addressing a massive tribal rally alongside a suspected Naxal leader, Rahul Gandhi talks of being a soldier of the tribals in Delhi … What is most unbecoming of the ‘honest’ Singh is his constantly looking the other way on issues involving gross corruption. No wonder then that telecom minister A Raja and CWG chairman Suresh Kalmadi have seemed to carry on their reported exploits with impunity.

India deserves a more ‘in-control’ PM … what makes the PM-in-waiting, Rahul, choose to remain ‘shielded’ perpetually? Has he done a reality check and concluded that he is not prepared for the job? Is he worried that he might face the same flak when his opportunity comes? What is equally surprising is that our ‘PM-designate’ is just as invisible on almost all important issues. (via No Nightwatchman’s Innings – The Times of India; parts excised for brevity.).

Is Rahul trying out his grand-mother's strategy? (Cartoonist - RK Laxman; Cartoon courtesy - Click for larger image.

Is Rahul trying out his grand-mother's strategy? (Cartoonist - RK Laxman; Cartoon courtesy - Click for larger image.

National Advisory Council (NAC) takes over

A web-zine, MeriNews in a recent analysis points out

The SIX-year old trusted political equation between Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh is said to be under pressure. Since the revival of National Advisory Council (NAC), headed by Sonia Gandhi …

All these six years, perfect understanding was maintained among these two power centers. While Sonia Gandhi looking after political issues of Congress-led UPA Government; Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh was given free hand with regard to the affairs of the government. But the growing interest shown by Sonia Gandhi in the governance seems to be widening the gap between the two political titans.

At this juncture, the revival of NAC is seen as Sonia Gandhi’s efforts to take control over the administration on her own to pave way for the coronation of her son Rahul Gandhi as Prime Minister. …

Manmohan Singh  is taking all due care avoiding the media focus on himself. He has hardly given any full-length interview for any news paper or news channel. He is also not happy with the attitude of some ministers, who did not cooperate with him … only Home Minister P. Chidambaram interacts with the Prime Minister on a regular basis on all major policy issues. While all other ministers are trying to show that they are more loyal to `madam’ than the prime minister.

Manmohan Singh was upset when AICC General Secretary Digvijay Singh had written an article questioning Chidambaram’s anti-Maoists policy at a time when the government was facing crisis following 76 CRPF jawans massacre in Chhattiasgarh. Whether Rahul Gandhi will be allowed to lead the nation or some intermediate arrangement will be preferred, is yet to be seen. (via Has Sonia Gandhi-Manmohan Singh equation as a team ended?).

It wasn't easy then ... (Published on - Jul 14, 2010; cartoon by - Sandeep Adhwaryu; cartoon courtesy - Click for larger image.

It wasn't easy then ... (Published on - Jul 14, 2010; cartoon by - Sandeep Adhwaryu; cartoon courtesy - Click for larger image.

Insider knows

A BJP MP, Chandan Mitra, writing for The Pioneer, paints a similar picture. Some edited (for brevity) sections are reproduced below.

What happened in the Rajya Sabha on August 31, last day of the Monsoon Session … was probably the most incredible example of a Government under siege … from within. The … next day, the Parliamentary Affairs Minister sought to drape Congress MP Keshava Rao’s rebellion against … Kapil Sibal with the cloak of “inner-party democracy” reveals the … bewilderment. Later the same evening, … P Chidambaram and Digvijay Singh were back in the ring …this time over the term ‘saffron terror’. Was it mere coincidence that two efficient … Ministers — Mr Chidambaram and Mr Sibal — bore the brunt of Congress MPs’ wrath? Some … believe that … Mr Keshava Rao’s … access to 10 Janpath, the rebellion must have been staged … (knowing) that no consequences would follow.

leaders have begun jockeying for the post-Manmohan era. With Rahul Gandhi’s mounting visibility, carefully calibrated by sections of the media, Congress know it is a matter of time before the heir-apparent takes direct charge.

the Prime Minister sat through all five hours of the Nuclear Liability Bill debate in the Rajya Sabha. Congress MPs later complained they couldn’t even take coffee breaks because it would have been improper to gad off while he sat on impassively. From this unusual action it has been deduced by many that Mr Manmohan Singh is in the final stage of repaying his debt to Washington on the nuclear issue.

So now that the nuclear deal process is complete, Mr Manmohan Singh may prefer to walk into the sunset once US President Barack Obama’s visit happens in early November.

Proponents believe that 2011 or latest 2012 will be the year of transition … a political crisis may be deliberately stirred so that a fresh election has to be called to legitimise Mr Rahul Gandhi’s ascendancy since his mother believes electoral endorsement is what’s kept the dynasty going. Congress strategists have calculated that if an election is held within the next 12 to 18 months, with Mr Rahul Gandhi projected as Prime Minister, the party will win a majority on its own. …

some seniors in the party are already positioning themselves for such an eventuality — Mr Digvijay Singh for one [.] has been consistently making jholawallah-type noises … significantly, he has targeted Mr Chidambaram who is clearly doing his best to uphold the dignity and power of the Indian state. … Rahul is building a jholawallah team around himself, some inherited from his mother’s National Advisory Council, which now acts as a super-Cabinet, and the rest drawn from from across the globe, potential British Labour Party leader David Miliband included. I would rather have Mr Rahul Gandhi take over right now than permit his ambitious cohorts to inject chaos and disorder in governance so that they can herald the Crown Prince’s arrival into South Block as the knight in shining armour destined to ‘rescue’ India from drift. Who knows, maybe Ms Sonia Gandhi will time her ‘voluntary retirement’ to coincide with that so daughter Priyanka begins a long stint as Congress president! [Significant caveats and qualifications by the author excised for brevity. Read original, linked at the beginning and here to verify the credibility and degree of certainty of the analysis].

Remember! Congress has won just 3 elections in the last 40 years. (Cartoon By Sandeep Adhwaryu; courtesy -; publication date - Jun 28, 2010.). Click for larger image.

Remember! Congress has won just 3 elections in the last 40 years. (Cartoon By Sandeep Adhwaryu; courtesy -; publication date - Jun 28, 2010.). Click for larger image.

Which way the wind blows

The wide- coverage of Rahul Gandhi’s support  to Omar Abdullah by the media was indicative of the way political winds are blowing. Did Omar Abdullah with nearly 12-15 years of experience in governance need Rahul Gandhi’s certification? The shrill attacks on the Government using Commonwealth Games is another indicator. Will the Ayodhya judgement by the Allahabad High Court be used as a trigger for displacing Manmohan Singh?

Time will surely tell. In the meantime, Rahul Gandhi would do well to remember that the Congress has really won just three election out of ten in the last 40 years. No doubt, the Indian Voter exudes warmth towards Rahul Gandhi.

To assume that this warmth will translate into votes is immature.

I bet you say this to all the boys!

Can we foret that behind Pakistan is the US?

Can we forget that behind Pakistan is the US?

However, US President Barack Obama’s decision to attend the reception in honour of his Indian guests at the conclusion of the first day of the strategic dialogue between Krishna and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton today, caught on well with the Indian team which is taking heart from the gesture.

Clinton opened the meeting with a passion reminiscent of the days of the Bush administration’s honeymoon with Delhi, emphasising that India was not only the “world’s greatest democracy and the world’s second fastest growing economy, but also a rising power. “The 21st century will be defined by India,” she said.

Certainly, the first high-powered strategic dialogue between the two governments is symbolic of a wide-ranging partnership between India and the US. The Obama administration wanted it this way; they had done the same thing when Obama, and more recently Hilary Clinton, went to China, in an effort to infuse the strategic dialogue with more meaning beyond security issues. (via 21st century to be defined by India: US).

What did you think I meant? Dirty, one track mind ...

What did you think I meant? Dirty, one track mind ...

This can turn a man’s head

If an American woman, much in ‘demand’, tells an Indian, “you have the biggest” you can imagine what happens. Especially if she says it to Sardar!

That is what Hillary Clinton did. Talk about India’s ‘biggest’ democracy!

She then went ahead and talked of his ‘rising power’. Now any Sardar will be happy to hear about his ‘rising power’. Naughty Hillary!

I bet you say that to all the boys!

The post-Lehman world – TN Ninan

The British were palpably relieved when India joined the Commonwealth

The British were palpably relieved when India joined the Commonwealth

Martin Wolf, of the Financial Times, refers to India and China as “premature superpowers”, countries that have low living standards but huge economies. Premature or not, he suggests that Britain should give up its permanent seat in the Security Council to India. That is not about to happen, but Wen Jiabao’s defence of the indefensible, namely China’s currency policy, underlines the ineffectiveness of American pressure on the rising power, even as an article in the current issue of Foreign Affairs debates how to deal with a post-nuclear Iran thus looking forward to the US failure to prevent such a denouement. Even more abject is America’s apparent willingness to let Pakistan and the Taliban take over Afghanistan, after having fought a war for over eight years to prevent just such an outcome. (via T N Ninan: The post-Lehman world).

Western stamp of approval

Martin Wolf’s recent post on India would endear him to the FEW (Fragile Egos of Westernized) Urban Indians. He has suggested that India should replace Britain in the UN Security Council.

To the ears of the FEW Urban Indians, whose self-esteem depends on Western approval, Martin Wolf’s words are music. My feeling is that we will hear about this in India for the next 5-15 years. The Urban FEW will see Martin Wolf’s endorsement as vindication of India’s ‘greatness’. It will soon be picked up on the Internet, endlessly tweeted and much chest-thumping will happen.

The context

Should the EU 'win' or 'lose' members?

Should the EU 'win' or 'lose' members?

Without seeing if the UN itself will last or survive. After this Great Recession, will Western and related economies do a double-dip? With the West in debt and with the sword of inflation hanging over their heads, who will exactly fund the UN? (No, I can’t see the logic of India funding the UN – assuming it has the means).

Will the UN last for as long, as it will take India to get this Security Council seat. Will a permanent seat at the Security Council be of any use in a world where the UN will become increasing irrelevant? These dubious clubs depend on victims to approve and finance their own slaughter – and these memberships don’t appeal to India.

Many decades ago, India helped sustain the illusion of British super-power by joining the Commonwealth. Will India rush in to join the OECD? Will India expend energy, goodwill and influence to get a seat at this ‘high table’ – which Manmohan Singh has set his heart on?

I wonder how many Indian newspapers and media houses will flock to Martin Wolf after this post – with lucrative syndication deals?

Shashi Tharoor patterns Indian foreign policy on US-Israel template

September 2, 2009 Leave a comment

As President-elect Barack Obama prepares to take office this month, he has avoided the fawning praise of India that has become fashionable in some Washington circles. But experts on the region say that India-US ties now have a momentum of their own. Industries in each country now have a vested interest in deepening ties with their counterparts.

“In 20 years, I expect the Indo-US relationship to resemble the Israel-US relationship, and for many of the same reasons,” said Shashi Tharoor, an Indian writer and former undersecretary general of the United Nations. (via Will the love-fest stoked by Singh, Bush bear fruit? – Economy and Politics –

Am I missing something here?

Am I missing something here? Look at the cartoon date!

Why is the Israeli model a bad idea

The first disqualification against accepting the Israeli State model is the fact it is heavily dependent on America, for fiscal and military aid – which “since 1974 totals roughly $80 billion”.

Do I sense envy when an article from Daily Times Of Pakistan says “The United States has poured $140 billion into Israel since its formation”. That is about a US$56,000 for every Israeli family.

Is this what you learnt at the UN Tharoor Saar

First, did it ever occur to Tharoor Saar to check where is the guarantee that the US will be in a any position to underwrite India’s long term requirements?

After satisfying himself, did Tharoor Saar ever ask, “Why would the US underwrite India?” In case of Israel, the US had good reasons. After all, (as NYT says)

America has vital long-term strategic interests in the Middle East. The gulf has well over 60 percent of the world’s proven conventional oil reserves and nearly 40 percent of its natural gas.

To some it may look like a boon, but is surely the kiss of death.

American policymakers began regarding Israeli strength as an American asset in the Cold War, they supported significant aid as a matter of strategy, not charity. … American aid continues to flow to Israel. … critics on the opposite end of the political spectrum argue that while aid to Israel may be tied to the best of intentions, it does more harm than good to the Jewish State by propping up a big and inefficient government and making Israel dependent upon the U.S.

For how long can any country, society, individual survive on foreign largesse? Note how during the 1973, Arab Israeli War, the tide of battle finally turned when the massive US airlift of weapons, tanks, spares happened! Which itself, is self-serving – American assistance, emerging as a disjointed policy that urges a peaceful resolution to the conflict while boosting military aid to Israel.”

Another client state of US, Pakistan enviously records, that

Israel is the only country that receives all of its U.S. aid in a single package, while others only receive it in quarterly installments.” It continues, “Most recipients of military aid are obliged to spend it in the US but Israel is permitted to spend 25 percent of what it receives to subsidize its own defence industry,”…

Doubtful motives, suspect intentions

Three aspects of the Israeli behaviour makes Israeli intentions doubtful.

One – Israel surely knows that US support cannot continue ad infinitum. What will be the Israeli response after they stop getting US support?

Two – After consistent and constant efforts to make enemies, over the last 50 years, how does Israel plan to continue living in a hostile neighbourhood – without American aid?

Three – With a population of little over 50 lakhs (5 million) in Israel and a world Jewish population of less than 1.3 crores (13 million), how does the Jewish population stop itself from going extinct?

Is there a pattern …

Tharoor Saar’s statement needs to be read in light of two other incidents. For starters, read Manmohan Singh’s speech at Oxford, praising the Raj,  while receiving his honorary doctrate. Continue with Chidambaram’s decision to end “abject poverty” in India that he seems to “have known for 5,000 years.” And now add Tharoor Saar’s stated objective to make India into a US-client state in another 20 years. Are these three incidents stray and unrelated? Do they form a pattern?

Any which, Tharoor Saar’s thinking is a cause for concern.

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