Monday, April 14, 2008

Why Manmohan Singh has fallen very low in "aam aadmi"'s eye?

I still remember in 2004 when NDA lost and there was no party that had a majority, Congress made alliances with Left and UPA was formed and Manmohan Singh was made the PM. BJP which could not digest the fact that they lost was in shatters. They behaved very badly in Parliament and everyone was feeling low.

The economists, industrialists, and intellectuals were having inertia on how the UPA would carry reforms ahead. The sigh of relief was that the dream team of Manmohan, Chidambaram and Montek Singh - all experts in their own field and having vast political experience was at the helm of prime affairs. The first one and half year everything was going good. Proposal to reform bureaucracy, Right to information act (RTI), National Employee Rural Guarantee Act(NERGA), National urban Renewal Mission(NURM) went very well with the public.

What turned was unprecedented and dramatic. Just because RTI was exposing a large number of IAS, IPS officers and even ministers of his own party in states he clipped the powers of the Act. This disappointed everyone. I was so happy at that time because for the first time I saw him working very good on the ground. Second, NERGA was implemented in some places and high corruption was involved. Singh did not care about this and did not ensure a better way of implementation.

Then came Indo-US nuclear deal. The biggest blunder he did here was not to discuss at length with everyone in the Parliament and take them into confidence. Media and the Congress party made a hype and Manmohan was seen going into history as the best PM who clinched a formidable deal with a formidable nation - USA.

A spate of bad events later happened. Some of the provisions as proposed by the deal like separation of military and civilian nuclear facilities and the imposition of Hyde Act irritated the BJP because they were the original architects of Indo-US partnership. The right to test weapons when came under compromise, BJP opposed the deal and media targeted BJP as though BJP assassinated progress and reform. Of course Left's opposition was known to Congress. BJP's opposition surprised Congress, however, it failed in convincing BJP that the right to test will never be compromised. How could it convince because Hyde Act was still applicable to India. Even when BJP delayed in clearing its strategy and later clarified that Hyde Act needs a change, Congress did not take it seriously. The media further criticized both the parties.

Later, the deal seemed to be hitting a roadblock. Series of inflations hit the govt and the dream team failed to take on major institutional reforms. Manomhan simply set up 40 GoM - each wasting time when already so much research was done to solve problems of the country. Almost 1 or one and half year passed by with no major reform. The National Commission of Farmers appointed by him was a futile exercise w.r.t time. Even when Arjun Singh spoke of reservations, it created a tension between the 2 Singhs'. I understand this because Manmohan Singh surely doesn't believe in reservations. He truly believed merit has to take precedence if we have to go ahead. The last bit being Farm Loan Waiver. All populist measures by the dream team and nothing concrete to bring in changes. So shoddy would be the policies was least expected.

Let's compare with NDA. Within 100 days of governance, blueprint for reforms was set up. Vajpayee did one best thing and that is employed right intellectuals to solve major issues (Arun Jaitley for Law - Pramod Mahajan for Telecom, Arun Shourie for disinvestment, and many others in major decision making ministries. In case of NDA, the government did not do well in Fiscal reforms, Labor reforms and agricultural reforms. Everything else was very fast and done with serious commitment.

What surpises me is that many of NDA's policies are that of Manmohan Singh and yet when he is the PM, none of those measures have been taken. The country no doubt had 8% growth for 2 years, but that was services and manufacturing which was anyways doing well. What happened to agriculture? No doubt NDA neglected several areas of agrarian reforms, although brought in changes like efficient credit system and faster access to money through Kisan credit cards. The NDA followed a very good food procurement policy which clearly is lacking in UPA. This is surprising. UPA is headed by an economist while NDA by a politician. A politician's economic vision was much better than an economist's economic vision..What a starking contrast and sad reality?

I as a citizen expected that Manmohan would take the country to heights that I will forever thank Sonia (although I hate Sonia so much w.r.t politics). I expected drastic changes in agriculture and bureaucracy. Today, I even further regret as to why Manmohan was made PM. He should have continued as Finance Minister and allowed someone else to rule as PM.

The backtracking by an eminent person like Singh on nuclear deal is like a slap on India's Foreign Policy by outside world. India's respect and acceptability has come under sharp attack unlike vajpayee who changed the perception of outside world that India is a rising superpower. The confidence instilled by the previous confidence has drained out the hopes of many citizens like me who expected much more from a sincere and committed man like Singh. Oh...Sorry...Committment in Singh is also suspicious for me as he has backtracked very badly on his own image.

Click here for this article which criticizes UPA govt very badly and specially Singh

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

bhaut shai guru......sai ja relo ho!