February 20, 2011

The babbling, rambling prime minister of India

Manmohan Singh is hardly Hosni Mubarak. Although most Indian prime ministers occupy the office only in the seventh or eight decade of their life — that's about the only similarity. Be that as it may.

At the end of the day, I do not like to paint all politicians with the same brush. I also do not believe in blaming politicians for all that ails India. Indian voters choose who they wish to represent them.

Indians are a nation of believers. Hinduism has a range of gods across the whole spectrum of possibility. Some gods are male while others are female. Some are neither male nor female. Some gods like vegetarian dishes while others prefer non-vegetarian dishes. Some gods are benevolent while others are ferocious as well as capricious.

Indians love their gods. They not only love them, they like to anoint ordinary humans with godly qualities too. So, we have a plentiful supply of demi-gods too. The office of the prime minister has been elevated to that level as well where the occupant gets to enjoy some mythical status like the emperor of Japan. This too is a voluntary act of Indians. So, who won't want to be treated like a demi-god ... not to mention getting to zip around New Delhi without having to worry about traffic lights and TRAFFIC ... that too in a comfy 7-series.

No wonder Manmohan Singh wishes to soldier on ... Let it be said on the record that all the praise lavished on Manmohan Singh by everyone from Obama to George Bush do not mean a damn thing. It simply shows that unlike what Indian perceive Americans to be, Americans are a polite people who too like to show respect to elders just as it's in our culture to do.

What drives me bonkers is when Manmohan Singh wants to be like Ceasar's wife. Yeah. Why does he want to be someone's wife? Well, he is clearly Sonia Gandhi's wife in an Indian sense.

What makes him think that he is contributing anything of value to this country by being the prime minister? He does not want to take responsibility when ministers in his government commit loot under his nose. He shows no overriding vision about where this country is going. I do not think he is a hero for the hundreds of millions of youngsters in this country. He is neither John Kennedy nor Gorbachev.

Does Manmohan Singh think the prime minister's job is merely to chair meetings of the Cabinet Committee on Security and the Cabinet Committee on Appointments?

Oh, wait — he is an expert economist! That he might be. But India is a country that has many of the tribe. So much so that India has exported many of them who are now teaching economics in many universities in the United States. There's nothing spectacular that Manmohan Singh has achieved as an economist. If expertise in economics were to be the yardstick, then Amarya Sen, Jagdish Bhagwati and the late C. K. Prahalad are more qualified to be prime minister.

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