No, this post is not about “India Today” the well-known magazine nor have I or anything to do with me featured in it. Recent events have compelled me to, what in the old days would have been called, put pen to paper or bang out on the keyboard, some thoughts on the state of India today. I usually stay away from writing about politics but we are heading towards a terrible mess, and I have to add my two bits to the conversation.The biggest news by far is on the economic front. From the years when we were clearly amongst the fastest growing economies of the world, we have stuttered and are now limping. Doesn’t matter if some are not walking at all. The much vaunted growth story seems to have hit multiple road blocks. Most of these have not been due to natural calamities but due to human failures. To put things in perspective, the recent news that Standard and Poor’s could downgrade India as an investment destination comes as bad news indeed.
Policies are framed by Governments and Governments are run by politicians. In India for the last two decades or more, coalition politics has come to stay. This means in essence that the tail wags the dog. Smaller regional parties have acquired vastly disproportionate clout with the central government as they hold the key to toppling the government or at least torpedoing their policies by withdrawing their support. The DMK in Tamil Nadu and now the Trinamool Congress in West Bengal have demonstrated this very many times.
This situation cannot be wished away. The days when one national party by itself got a huge majority in Parliament are long over. What is needed is the sagacity and shrewdness on the part of those who govern, to wit the political class, to deal with the situation.
If at all there is anyone in the ruling UPA II who could handle the political intrigues and stratagems, it is Pranab Mukherjee the Finance Minister. He has become the virtual Mr Go To for every crisis in the Government, and there have been ever so many of them. He heads multiple Groups of Ministers to review policies and issues, is consulted on most matters and is the general wheeler-dealer for the Congress Party.. At 79, he hopes to retire in peace by getting elevated to the Presidency by a grateful party which he has served for five decades. The party however cannot do without him in the day to day brawls.
PM Manmohan Singh is a well-meaning person but has proved totally inept in dealing with the political situation. It’s in a sense tragic. He who had such a good name as the one who brought in reforms in the early ’90s, is today the butt of most jokes for being too silent,. docile, obedient etc etc .He has the disadvantage of being a leader with no political clout of his own. He has not even been elected to the Lok Sabha. It is well-known that he will quit when the Heir Apparent says he is ready to take charge.
The man who has been elected to the Lok Sabha and is the Heir Apparent to party supremo, Sonia Gandhi is her son, Rahul. On most issues that make news on a daily basis, he is surprisingly distanced, at least in Parliament and in the public eye. It’s time for him to come forward and take up the leadership instead of being an influential but not accountable behind the scenes player.
The main opposition party the BJP, has its own set of problems. I believe it is time for Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister of Gujarat to openly make a bid to be the Prime Ministerial candidate for the next General Elections slated for 2014. It will come down to Modi vs Gandhi. There will be a lot of polarization in the country. People will have to take stands.
There will be some upheaval but some action will take place instead of the country running more and more adrift, rudderless and leaderless in such a crucial time.