“Second, we must ensure that infrastructure does well, is well-managed, its reform is a priority concern.”
The above line sounds like it is coming from a retired Nobel Laureate addressing some obscure audience on how reforms can be carried out in India. Or maybe from some a wannabe expert trying to pass of as an intellectual. Or maybe from Sagarika Ghose!
But the answer is none of the above.
That sagely and enlightening line was thrown towards us by the Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh. Now, if you are thinking that Dr. Manmohan Singh has been newly appointed as PM and is articulating his vision – you are mistaken again. He has been India’s Prime Minister for 7 full years (and counting) and when asked why reforms are not taking place at a pace that is satisfactory, that is what we got as an answer.
The long winded answer to Q.13 in this interaction he had with 5 print editors is a must read. He tells us that we need a law – doesn’t tell us why he couldn’t bring in that law. He doesn’t tell us why roads (which come under infrastructure) under the Golden Quadrilateral project are running at such a slow pace. He tells us that there is a need to set up “working groups” to understand how education and health services can be improved – doesn’t tell us why he couldn’t merely set-up those working groups either (especially given his tendency to set-up a GoM for any issue). Then he talks about making a beginning in FDI and retail areas – that’s right – he is exploring options on how to “make a beginning” 7 full years after he was given the mandate to make them. Again – he doesn’t explain why he didn’t make the beginning so far.
Why do we need a Prime Minister, if we just have to maintain status quo? Isn’t a Cabinet Secretary enough for that? Why do we need a Prime Minister, who doesn’t feel the need to interact with his citizens often and when he does – just cribs about how he has a vision but will not do anything about it?
That interview had more gems. He enlightens us that it is easier for agencies like CAG, and opposition parties to criticize decision “post-facto” because they are not aware of the environment under which such decisions are taken. He tells that these people now have facts that were not available to government at that time. Again, he never tells what the facts he didn’t have at his disposal were. What exactly was the urgent need to push through the spectrum sale without having enough facts at his disposal? He won’t answer that question either. This article in The Hindu is a good read, and exposes his lies based on this “post-facto” statement very nicely.
While again defending his silence over the 2G scam while it was happening, he tells us he is not an expert in telecommunication. However, what we do know is that he is a expert economist (remember that Resume of his that went around in chain mails in 2004)? And so since we are being ruled (sorry, administered) by an expert economist, we’d expect he will throw some light on why our salaried class has to shell out so much money because of high inflation. What does he do – he tells us “Inflation is a global problem” (Answer to Q.44). And he cites the Chinese inflation rate too, as if it is a relief for us.
And then there is this bugging issue of Pranab Mukherjee’s office. The Home Minister was kept out of the loop. The Prime Minister also confirmed this – “this was on a need-to-know basis”. Yet, not a single article of outrage in the media. Not a single edit exposing this deep mis-trust the PM and the FM have on the HM. We are to just believe that this issue was a “bogus” one as told earlier by the FM.
Finally – how can he have an interview and not blame the BJP for the ills that he is facing? It won’t be complete. So he tells us (as an answer to Q.19 regarding 2G scam) that “there is a cabinet decision of 2003“.
Folks – did you know, there was NO cabinet decision in 2007 when spectrum was auctioned? Did you know that this Prime Minister agreed that Cabinet does not have to take a decision on this, based on pressure from DMK? And he has the gall to talk about cabinet decisions!
And when questioned about Commonwealth games (Q.40), he ends his answer with “The agreement to have CWG was signed in the year 2003 when the previous government was in power“. Ofcourse, he won’t tell us that the corruption scandals related to CWG had nothing to do with the agreement. And on the reforms question (Q.13), he cites the Goods and Services tax and tells us that BJP is politicising it.
Amidst so much, do you want to take a guess at some of the headlines in TV channels – “I am in command – PM“.