Incredible India@60: A Shadow PM

After the rift with leftists on Indo-US Nuclear deal, it appears that Manmohan Singh has lost his prime ministerial role. All the photographs where Manmohan appears with Sonia Gandhi clearly show who is the boss. Since Rahul got into Congress’ general secretary chair, in some photographs with Rahul, Manmohan doesn’t appear again as the effective head of the country. Is it his humility or does the facial expression show the obligation to all the members of the royal family? In many a full-page advertisement, one can see only Sonia Gandhi’s photograph with the cabinet minister. One such appeared today where Sonia and Lalu were in two top corners. The way leftists talk about Manmohan Singh is to a great degree derogatory for the prime minister of India, and it seems the leftists know where the power lies.

As the head of most of the ‘groups of ministers’, Pranab was more like a de facto prime minister. Very lately, Pranab seems to be in main role so far Indo US relation is concerned that earlier was with Manmohan exclusively. Sonia and Rahul attended UN general assembly that declared Gandhi’s birthday, October 2, as the International Antiviolence Day. Actually, the honour would have gone to Manmohan, the Prime minister. Perhaps Manmohan Singh has been the nearest to the definition of prime minister provided by Parkinson among all our prime ministers till date.

At one time when Manmohan got his throne, may be due to the mercy of Sonia Gandhi, I was still excited in a hope that it might work as a good new model of governance in the democracy of India and would become effective. After all a professional and globally respected economist with a record of super performance as finance minister of India in a critical period had become the prime minister of India for the first time. Every one and me too expected him to bring in some wonders with his knowledge and experiences. But nothing remarkable happened. He tried with some projects such as Bharat Nirmaan, but on execution side, nothing significant got executed. Even the projects such as GQ and NSEW corridors expressways linger on till date.

I doubt if the Manmohan picked some key priorities for him to work on and focused sufficiently to get that executed or to get even some essential reforms completed. What could have held him from getting the ranking of doing business in India improved to a respectable standard? Doing Business 2008 report issued by the World Bank and IFC ranks India at 120 out of 178 countries. India requires entrepreneurs to go through 13 procedures- double the average fro developed nations and 59% higher than its regional peers. It needs 33 days to start a business. Why can’t it be done in 5 days? Why can’t with all the might of IT and ITeS, the tax payment systems and property registrations be completed fast enough? Why can’t the Prime Minister appoint a group of ministers to improve the country’s ranking on some of the globally accepted indexes that are perceived as the indicators of good governance and growth?

Manmohan Singh could have also contributed in education sector but unfortunately he had an arrogant rival there in Arjun Singh. From the Red Fort on the Independence Day, he has announced the government plans for setting up of a large number of educational institutes. If all get established, that will be certainly something great for the country.

Once Chidambaram said, “I do know what India can learn from China. India can learn from China how to be extremely focused on goals. India can learn from China in the area of project implementation; the Chinese implement projects ahead of time. India can learn from China about dreaming big. China is now planning the world’s tallest building, the world’s largest deep-sea port, and the world’s largest airport. I think we, too, should learn to dream big, like China.” Manmohan Singh too has talked highly about the China’s performance. I wonder if Indians can ask the two major drivers of the nation what have they done actually to make India learn what that they expected?

Why should the PM look at China to get the lessons of execution? If Patel can get aviation sector on track and some other minister can do the same wonderful work in telecom, why can’t it be repeated in other ministries? It only says that the PM is not able to make his ministers and bureaucrats perform. And that is the responsibility of the PM.

To many, and me Manmohan Singh would have understood the risk of sitting in the Prime Minister chair without the public mandate in a democracy. Alas! He can be only a shadow prime minister in history.

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