Tuesday, June 7, 2011

THE SORRY STATE OF THE NATION

B.RAMAN

India has been going through a political and moral crisis of disturbing proportions, with no end to the crisis in sight. Despite undoubted economic growth, one could sense the lack of a feel good feeling right across the society.

2.We have a Prime Minister who had some moral authority, but had no political authority to be able to translate his moral authority into meaningful action against corruption. His perceived inaction or inadequate action against corruption has eroded even the moral authority he had. For nearly seven years, the Government has been headed by a person who is a Prime Minister on sufferance and not by right.

3.Sonia Gandhi, the leader of the Congress (I), has immense political authority, but, in the eyes of large sections of the people, lacks the required moral authority which could enable her to translate her political authority into acceptable policies to deal with the moral crisis confronting the country.

4. There is thus a huge vacuum ---political and moral---in governance. Into that vacuum have sought to move in newly-emerging non-governmental forces in the name of the civil society. The Government, which is helplessly buffeted by these forces, finds itself in a position where it is neither able to satisfy nor resist them.

5. These forces and the electronic media have made action against corruption the yard-stick by which to judge the performance of the Government and the Congress (I). The tendency of the Prime Minister to avoid action, if possible, and to act only when forced by external pressure or circumstances has created a widespread feeling that he is not serious when he talks of the Government’s determination to act against corruption.

6. There is a feeling at the best that he wants to act, but is prevented by the party from doing so and at the worst that neither he nor his party is genuinely interested in dealing with this evil. The consequent loss of what little moral authority was there has added to the strength of the newly-emerging non-governmental forces. They have been able to project themselves in the eyes of large sections of the people as the defenders of the moral fibre of the nation against a Government increasingly bereft of moral authority.

7. Unless and until the Government is able to acquire the required moral authority, the present moral and political crisis will continue to sap the energies and the prestige of the nation. It is doubtful whether a Prime Minister on sufferance will be able to acquire such moral authority, buttressed by political strength.

8. So long as Dr.Manmohan Singh continues to be perceived as a helpless Prime Minister buffeted between the civil society forces pressing for action against corruption and a Congress (I) headed by Sonia Gandhi which sees the civil society forces as a greater evil than corruption itself, there will be no end to the present crisis.

9. The buffeted ship of the nation needs a competent, self-confident and morally sensitive captain who can take it through the troubled waters. Even the most charitable well-wishers of Dr.Manmohan Singh would be doubtful in their mind whether he is the right man of the occasion.

10. However talented and administratively skilful, no Prime Minister on sufferance will be able to take the country out of the present crisis, which has demonstrated the inadvisability of dual authority with the de facto and the de jure centres of power contributing to a political and moral paralysis.

11. The time has come for mid-term polls which could usher in a Government headed by a Prime Minister by right and not on sufferance who could acquire the required moral and political authority and assert it effectively in the interest of the nation. Public opinion should demand early mid-term polls. ( 8-6-11)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail:seventyone2@gmail.com )

10 comments:

vadakkus said...

Administration? There is only one answer: Jayalalithaa.

No kidding, as far as I see, she is the only worthy administrator who can steer the country out of the crisis today. Atleast she is communally clean, though corruption charges are levied against her too. But the corruption she is accused of is miniscule compared to whatever is going on today..

Esoteric said...

Nice.Thank you for a strategic piece on current situation.

While you are quite correct in your diagnosis about PM and Congress President,but missed out mentioning some other facts about UPA1 & 2.

- Since 2004,no major economic reform has been carried out.Till 2008,strong economic momemtum(global & domestic) ensured high growth.Ironically,2008 financial meltdown gave the Govt an excuse for the lowered growth.Its now battling aftereffects of the meltdown.Its been unable to create any new idea that looks as far ahead as 2030.

- On national security,terror attacks have taken place with impunity.Even the 26/11 hasnt yet persuaded UPA to go all out against the terror cells etc.A few boats have bought to patrol the seas in'front' of Taj hotel...thats about it.The slumber seems to be deliberate.Some efficiency gains have been made and capability gaps filled,but the transformation required and demanded hasnt been delivered.Huge gaps in defencce preparedness have been over simplified into big ticket arms purchases.

- Enough has been said on corruption.So let me mention Telangana,J&K(2010) and food inflation to demonstrate the kind of govt this is.

One must remember,this 2011 so administrative functioning of early 90s and 80s wouldnt work.Decision making tools can be made quicker and more transparently.But the UPA team runs the country like a Global Top 10 company of 2000s were to be run by a Cotton mill owner of the 80s.Anyone working in a corporate would be easily able to relate to this.The mentality and skills are totally different.

So my conclusion is that the Governance deficit of the UPA is due to its lack of capability and right intent.The deficit led to anger which first spilled out in 2008 end in Mumbai and then has only gathered momentum.

To simplify this into a right wing conspiracy and Sangh parivar orchestrated movement is to miss the big picture.Its not good enough to deliver 10% at the last moment.Good quality delivery is a non-negotiable.

Finally, the above is diagnostic now lets come to the solution.The time isnt correct for a mid-term poll.That time is still another 3-6 months down the line.No one would want to let Congress escape now.They must correct the last 62 yrs errors in next 62 days or suffer in shadows for ever.The clean up has to be done by UPA itself.Once,basic clean up happens then we can have midterms polls and a proper non-congress Govt.Else congress would use current dirt to cripple the new Govt.

Krishna Kacker said...

Two quick comments;
One, that economic activity is now being hit by political squabbling, as noticed by figures of te last Quarter for which figures are released.
We hv had a bumper wheat crop this year about 84mT, if memory serves me right.But as happens evry year a good part would go rotting due to lack of proper administrative machinery and storage facilities.We would thus have scarcity in plenty; people will continue to starve while foodgrains rot in open.
Two, the coalition of disparate pol parties has prevented not only the UPA Govt from acting firmly, but NDA govt had a similar inning with no check on the doings of ministers from other than the main pol parties.This will thus continue until a single party comes to power at the centre since both alliances are more interested in staying in power than effective management of Administration and its economy.

Esoteric said...

PM vs SC,Rotting foodgrains

Sep 7,2010: http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/pm-takes-on-supreme-court-over-free-grain-order-50026

May 14,2011: http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/article2018995.ece

Paresh said...

I am extremely unhappy (bordering on anger) at the way UPA government is disrespecting public opinion by dividing the anti-corruption movement on communal lines! It is preposterous and I hope to GOD that citizens of India realize the huge disservice to the nation being done by these foul-mouthed goondas.

I also call for a mid-term poll!

Here is an article that details how Ministers of the UPA govt accorded a red-carpet welcome to the Imam of Saudi Arabia to interfere in the internal dispute of Indian Muslim community. Remember, the same red-carpet was accorded to Pakistani maulan Fazlur Rehman!! They were here to consolidate support for the more aggresive and backward Deobandi-Wahabbi stream of indian Muslims.

http://southasiaanalysis.org/%5Cpapers46%5Cpaper4513.html

The same UPA govt disrespects Anna Hazare by calling him an RSS agent!!! How unpatriotic can a government get for selfish gains??

ghalib said...

From the reactions on the recent fiasco, it is obvious that the government is very short sighted and having only 2012 UP elections in focus. Hence they have unleashed the likes of Digvijay Singh to muddy the waters and divert attention from the main issues confronting the nation.

Sarang said...

@Paresh

Remember, the British never left India. They merely transferred power to the Congress party!

Sonia Gandhi with the help of incompetent, foolish and immature Rahul 'Baba/Yuvraj' Gandhi is making a mockery of India. Sycophant Congress netas are now calling upon Priyanka Gandhi to take the place of the failed Rahul Gandhi. How stupid! When she fails, will they call upon her 3-4 year old children to lead the nation????

By the way, do you know, Robert Vadra (Priyanka Gandhi's notorious husband) is exemted from frisking at Indian Airports, but the Indian Armed Forces Chiefs are not!! We are one step away from dynastic rule...sad

ambi said...

Boy I am holding my breathe. As it seems Jabardast takkar hone wali hain. Congress ke majboot lagne wale hain!

As Sidhu famously said,'Truck aur maruti ke takkar mein, Truck ka kuch gaya nahin, Maruti ka kuch rahya nahin'.

It just reminds me of a promo line of movie Rang de Basanti 'A Generation Awakens'.

kabalan said...

be prepared for the bigger disaster - rahul gandhi becoming PM of this unfortunate country.

balaji said...

@ambi @Sarang The Congress party does not have ideals ,they just turn from secular to ultra conservative (Remember Indra Gandhi) to downright autocratic to appeasing the terrorists etc .Their ideology depends upon the whims and fancies of one family which we all come to know as the "Gandhi Family". It is a family run party.When Sonia Gandhi was about to become the Prime Minister in 2004 journos were saying that Indian democracy should be proud that we are electing a foreign born citizen as the leader of the ruling party. I just thought that the country of origin hardly matters to the Congress party. Infact if there are no humans left in the Gandhi family then India may have the dubious distinction of having the first "Dog" as the Indian Prime Minister. The Congress party will say they find the ideals and the charisma of Nehru in that Dog , the Dog symbolises the freedom struggle of India and the principles of the Mahatma. So the Congress party is proud to elect the "Gandhi dog" which is a spitting image of the Gandhi family who have always worked hard for the betterment of India's poor. The Congress party is sure that India will one day come of its poverty and they will tirelessly work for it as they have done for 60 years and infact it will be the same manifesto for the Next 200 years as they dont believe that the electorate will ever come out of poverty.