Experts and political leaders of the people!
Why a new finance minister not appointed? What is the hitch?
Why the Prime Minister is keeping so many portfolios?
India just now, at the New Year eve, is inundated, so to say, with too many experts, economist of repute! Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel winner and professor of economics at Columbia University was here for a lecture. Not to let him go alone was our own Amartya Sen, on the eve of his 75th birthday which was celebrated by the New Delhi tribe of fellow economists. Sen gave a series of lectures as well, as expected. There was Raghuram Rajan, another heavyweight economist who is now also adviser to the Prime Minister. He is an IMF hand, as our own PM and his deputy in the Planning Commission Ahluwalia. In fact, one can go on and doll out names of economists who are crowding out the PM’s corridor at the South Block.
Why this crowd? Of course, it is holiday time in New York.
But then the PM must be feeling somewhat overwhelmed by receiving and entertaining old and new friends. Where is the time for the Prime Minister of India for all these small pleasures? And, consider the PM is also keeping for some unexplained reasons so many of key portfolios with himself. Finance, Coal, Information and Broadcasting and some other, something like six independent charges.
Why, why? Is this justified?
Is the country in a mood now to take things in a light manner?
The economic meltdown had taken its own toll. Jobs in key industries are cut and lost. IT is a first victim of the slowdown. And so too are many others key sectors, textiles and many other key sectors face the slowdown in the face of rising costs and falling export orders.
Even otherwise, there is a clutch of issues in banking and finance, infrastructure and the very formulation and announcement of stimulus packages, the first one didn’t enthuse, and the second one doesn’t meet the needs of the entire economy and so on.
A full-time Finance Minister must seem to be the urgent need in order to sit at the vantage position and take a view of the entire spectrum of issues.
The PM, more than any other person, including the Congress President, Sonia Gandhi, must be knowing the pressure on his time and energy. Is the PM the person who takes this decision, namely, not to have a full-time Finance Minister? Or, even a part-time one? Or, is Sonia Gandhi is the person behind such a decision.
Given the background of the relationship between the PM and the Congress President, there is every reason to suspect that it is decision of the two together not to have a full-time Finance Minister for the time being or till the next elections are over. Why?
Because there is reason to suspect the PM might perceive some threats to his indispensability in the scheme of things. Even, as it was rumoured, if a person of the stature of S.M.Krishna, the Karnataka politician is given the responsibility, who knows, if things so change or tilt, even a man like him could pose a challenge if the constellation of forces, if the other Karnataka politicians around Sonia poison her mind to go for a change or a choice at the top slot.
You see, politics is always and even at the best of times, is a dirty game and anyone can stab you in the back. That is the law of politics, the betrayal of even the trusted persons.
Okey, is this fair in a democracy?
In a time like this when the mood of the nation is fully charged with the Mumbai carnage and everyone needs a healing touch we see a government in Delhi that doesn’t give you the impression that you can wait endlessly for your grievances attended to, as the government is engaged in dealing with Pakistan.
This is sheer illusion, as it looks by the way Mr.Pranab Mukerjee is left alone to handle the issues and the PM is again seems to be left alone to engage with other things.
The other things include the functions to celebrate the birthdays, IIT days and what have you.
The PM’s thoughts normally in these days of great national stress and emotional turmoil must be reflecting the mood of the people. Do you get the impression the PM is burdened with such thoughts. As far as we can see he is not giving out his innermost feelings, if any. On the contrary, he gives the impression that everything is returning to normalcy, business is as usual and people simply forget the events such as the one like the Mumbai tragedy and the issues with Pakistan can be explained or tackled through his trusted envoys at large like Shanakra Menon or Shyama Saran.
Amartya Sen came and gave lectures. In a TV interview he was asked as how he viewed the Mumbai tragic deaths. What was Sen’s response like? He just said he was more concerned with the deaths of children out of malnutrition and other issues like elementary education, poverty etc!
What a thing to say to a pointed question like the Mumbai terror deaths! But then, we should remember Sen is after all a theoretician and not bothered with immediate events as such. So too in a way our own Prime Minister with just one difference. The PM is a bureaucrat-turned politician. What a bureaucrat would do typically in such a situation? He will turn to his files and just call for some explanation. In this case, the PM who is directly in charge of the security of the nation and the NSA is supposed to directly to brief him on a daily basis and here is the many news reporting from the very day of the carnage that the NSA was engaged at the very moment in a party. At the very moment, the Mumbai police, the other three top officials who came under severe criticism in the Maharshtra Assembly and yet no one official head rolled!
Poor Shivraj Patil who must be cursing his fate that in spite of being the favourite minister of Sonia Gandhi, it was after all only his lone head that rolled and every other official went back to work the next day!
Our democracy artificiality constituted
The trouble with our political system today is that it is not strictly a politically dynamic democracy. It just suits the incumbent Prime Minister who is not elected through conventional democratic manner. It is a system that is artificially constituted through an illegitimate nomination process and also, the very basic political power structure, that of the major party, the Congress, is also constituted by a system of nomination devoid of any democratic voice being heard and therefore this current phenomenon in Delhi is double blow to the very democratic process as our polity had know all along.
So, we have not a genuine democracy, it is a highly controlled wielding of power that is killing all genuineness and openness of governance.
So you don’t get the needed “connect”! The top power structure is not connected to the pulses of the people at the bottom.
The immediate remedy to some extent is to have all the portfolios filled with genuine leaders of the people. Not clever lawyers or job seekers and careerists, please!