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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

would we miss this PM?

in the last few days now, no one has seen the P.M. He is supposed to be under medical care. but, has the nation missed him?

my question is not to do with the nuclear deal in which the PM seems to be more bent than any other deal. inflation, oil prices, new coastal regulation policy that no one wants, bhopal victims (whoever has the energy and is still alive) on a long hunger strike in delhi, sikkim having youth on hunger strike protesting against a unnecessary dam, prof. agarwal continuing his hunger strike in uttarkashi despite threats from local politicians, gujjar problem in rajasthan, shiv sena renewed issues in maharashtra, the continuing farmer suicide...much else happens in the country. but, the PM is stuck on the nuclear deal. one day he says, 'take it or I quit', next day he seems to say, 'take it or I will not go to G7', who will miss you? we don't miss you certainly.

MM Singh has forever been media darling because of his demenear, so much so that we have forgotten that he probably is the weakest PM we have ever got in this country. not even during the short stints of Gujral and Gowda would have been as weak as now. He has no respect in his party, certainly no power. His party leader to save the government, consults Balu, a minister who admits to being corrupt in the floor of the Parliament; his cabinet colleagues openly fight each other through press statements, he doesn't hail from anywhere nor does he have a following except among his own category of babus in global babu institutions such as World Bank and UN and local bureaucracy. He was never elected through an election that was actually fought. He is 'clean' from the taint of the Indian politics and the only people who celebrate him are the middle class whose general knowledge is fed by the English visual media and who in turn feed it with their half baked opinions.

his carefully spoken English is a darling of those masses who have learnt their English in English medium schools so that they can go abroad and 'make a lot of money', his greatest achievement has been that he ushered in those changes that would have been brought in by any one, because there was no choice but to liberalize. his greatest beneficiaries - the corporates laughed at his face when he suggested voluntary cuts in pay scale and all but booed him for suggesting reservation in their ranks.

MM Singh is a rank outsider in the congress. he is part of a long list of bureaucrats turned politicians of the 80s and 90s that is a trend in Indian politics. it includes the popular presidents such as K.R. Narayan and Kalam and quite a few ministers including Yashwant Sinha, Mani Iyer, etc. This entire bunch of people had their 'international' reputations to back them up and no popular support among people either through mandate or through their work. Kalam became popular post-Pokhran because the media wanted a popular persona and he with his mane was much better candidate than a pug-faced Vajpayee or a simpler Chidambaram, the other key scientist involved in the process. Apart from him, none of the other bureaucrat politicians have any people backing of their own or any experience in gauging popular issues. They are bureaucrats and they all arrived in the political scene with international exposure just around the time India was opening up to the world(or was it because these people arrived in politics that India opened up to the world?).

his entire career has been in 'opening up' india for financial investments by others at a time when international investments paid little returns in america and europe and people are looking to invest in better parts of the world for better returns and china is still looked at with suspicion. china is no longer looked at with suspicion, the investment there is much higher than us, but, that is a different issue. the issue is if he didn't propel this opening up would someone else have done it? of course, it would have happened, global capital lords would need a different place for better returns and India would have to be opened up in any case. MM Singh and later date Chidambaram are the right people in the right time with the right attitude. they cannot be attributed with any great vision, neither have any. they can be given credit for pushing the global investment agenda through arguments and presentations within the cabinet and ensure that this is never vetoed, they have managed quite well. for this, the media created them to be heroes, they have enjoyed the image and benefited from that too.

his current nuclear deal obsession defies all previous thick headedness by any PM before. it looks like the most beneficial effect would be for corporates that specialize on the nuclear technology, both for military and for civilian purposes. when globally there has been a renewed look on energy afresh and USA doesn't mind even causing global food crisis by diverting its food crops to fuel crops, here we are stuck with obsolete technologies such as coal and large dams on one side and dangerous and white horse technologies such as the nuclear ones to peddle our energy cycle.

we don't really even understand our energy needs. every votary of the nuclear deal has forever recycled the consumption needs of energy 20 years from now, where are these projections from? what is the level of consumption that is anticipated in this kind of consumption? who are the beneficiaries? none seems to bother and none of these questions are posed anyway. economists need to reduce humans to numbers so that they get back to their comfort zone of calculations.

clinton has recently reported to have commented that India and China will burn down the earth. true if the 'american way of life' wins in both these nations today. both the countries have increased their ability to consume and they are consuming at a rate not seen earlier, traditional forms of restrain is no longer valid as (atleast in India) reforms have come about in religious and cultural institutions which synonymously connote abundance with greedy consumption. across the country american way of life has come to be justified by data of how we had materials in abundance 200 years back! this is perverse reading of history too.

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