The magic wand of Manmohan Singh

Honestly I find it silly to waste time writing about a dishonest and despicable man like Dr. Manmohan Singh.

How much is too much? I guess you know it’s too much when it stops giving otherwise expected results. For example you know you have had too much of chocolate cake when you fill nausea instead of happiness in eating the next bite. Ghalib has put it in more beautiful words as “Dard ka had-se gujarana hai, dava ho jaanaa”. Too much of pain is when it starts acting like a medicine.

Dr. Manmohan Singh will be the last men I would like to see lecturing my kids. But when you are heading a government that cares a damn about what it’s citizens think and feel he has the freedom to do whatever he wants. As a result he has plans to send a message to 11 lakh government schools.

“Education gave me a new life,” it will say. “Education is the magic wand that can help us meet any challenge.”[link]

And after that sentence the message will have usual Manmohan Singh at his best that is boring an uninspiring sentences full of lies. Manmohan Singh’s biggest skill is his docile nature and that is what helped him climb in life not really his Phd. in economics. But Dr. Manmohan Singh will not be truthful.

“I promise that India will provide opportunities to all of you to fulfil your hopes and dreams. I am confident that education will help you scale new heights.”

This in my opinion is the biggest lie. Congress government is like a concoction of the worst of both socialism and capitalism. What we have right now is a state conspiring with greedy companies to screw we people. Most of the school kids that Dr. Singh is addressing are likely to serve these companies who will pay them peanuts, rest will probably struggle to get a government job by bribing politicians.

I wonder if Dr. Singh can point out any steps his government has taken to ensure that new business come up in India, that they get to compete on a level ground, any attempts to push India up above the value chain. Even today the biggest companies in India are not retail and technology but coal, mining and oil. The billionaires India has are not those who came up with good ideas and turned them into business but those who bribed politicians to create monopoly in the market.

Dr. Manmohan Singh is now misleading school kids. However as I pointed out earlier I don’t think it will bother anyone anymore. He has mislead us so many times and in so many ways that it has become “too much”. He has crossed the limit where we could take him seriously and transgressed into and area where he will continue to live as a joke.

BJP does the right thing

When the IAC movement started, BJP was not really made part of the dialog that  happened between Government and Team Anna. I guess Congress thought that it would be better to keep the opposition out of the focus and hence they wont be able to take the advantage of the situation. I wonder why IAC did not work so closely with BJP.

That was a mistake that Congress did. It confined itself into a narrow space and soon the movement turned into UPA government v/s as 72 year old man. BJP and other simply waited in the gallery.

Whether by accident or by plan this has done some real good for BJP. I was very critical of BJP because they did not clear their stand on the issue. I guess they were waiting for the right moment.

Apparently, that moment has come. Arun Jaitley’s speech today has cleared BJP’s stand and that too in a very pragmatic way.

I originally thought, when I was learning my initial lessons in politics, that there were too many controls and regulations which the Government had. And, we thought, when liberalization set in, and we had delicensing taking place, freedom from controls taking place, that the role of Government and the intrusion of Government into various places would come to an end, or, that it would, substantially, decline, and once that happened, we would probably have a much cleaner society as far as corruption was concerned. I must confess that this was the honest belief that even I shared. Of course, this had its own advantages. Delicensing, or, freedom from control, meant that people wanting to undertake economic activity did not have to move around in the corridors of power. To that extent, we did take a step forward.

Arun Jaitley then goes on to give examples of specific sectors where root cause of corruption is government control and discretionary power in the hands of few.

And we have now gone to the extent of saying that if you have an urban project which is more than fifty cores of rupees– and land being costly, most projects would be more than fifty crores of rupees – it will also require environmental clearance from the Central Government. At least, there was one stage, some years ago, not recently, where literally thousands of files used to be pending with the Central Government for environmental clearances because some buildings in some parts of the country have to be constructed.

Government control leads to scarcity of resources and because of which the common man ends up suffering. Jaitley goes on to talk about education sector

 must clarify, I am not an opponent of the whole idea of the society, the private sector, the non-Governmental organisations and charitable trusts getting into the field of education; from school education to higher education, some of them have made a commendable contribution. But, then, in areas where there was a scarcity created, in terms of seats–we know the States where this is happening–unthinkable amount of capitation fee for a single undergraduate or post-graduate medical seat was charged, because we decided to create scarcity of seats. Wherever the scarcity got over, the capitation fee disappeared. But, wherever we created scarcity, we found that this became a major area as far as black money is concerned.

He clarifies BJP stand on Lokpal as

he ultimate authority is with the Government to introduce the law. The authority is with the Parliament to approve the law. They have a right to protest and crusade. But, then, we must neither curtail their right to protest nor must we get so angry with them and say like children that we will not speak to you now. And, it is only when pressure becomes unbearable that we will start speaking to you. Most of these provisions are such that they are workable, or, at least, they can be brought within the dialogue domain and a solution can be worked out rather than create a situation in the society that it appears that there is a confrontation going on between the political system of this country and the Civil Society.

While all the points he makes are the “right things to do” the real challenge for the party to take this to the masses. At this moment the public is not in mood to listen to any politician, the middle class apathy towards politics is at it’s peak, you hear people saying stuff as all politicians are equally corrupt and so on.

At such a point Arun jaitley’s speech will not be qualitatively compared with that of Manmohan Singh, indead people will just brush it off.

There is no single individual left in the party who has a moral authority to talk to people and convince them. People don’t really get convinced with logical arguments, they get convinced with personal charm of the leader along with his moral authority.

As far as BJP is concerned the only man right of the job is Narendra Modi. A person who has silenced his critics with his actions, hated the most by his opponents and yet he moves around without a wound or blot.

I hope BJP is only waiting for the Guj elections to get over.

Destiny’s game

I thought Uday Chopra was the most pitiable actor in the Bollywood. If it was not his family lineage, the security guard of film studio would not have let him in. Ravidra Jadeja was probably the next pitiable man in the line. But if there is anyone who beats both these two people by great margin then it must be Dr. Manmohan Singh.

A young disciple was frustrated with his life and poverty went to his guru. He said, “Oh master, please pray to the god that let him end my sorrows and give me the wealth I need”. The master refused. Master said he can not utter those words. He asked the disciple that he should pray for himself. Disciple argued that the Guru was in good books of the God unlike him. Had he been in the God’s good books God wouldnt have let him into this difficult situation in the first place.

The master asked the disciple to go inside the secret chamber where there was an idol of a Goddess. He asked him to go and pray to her whatever she wants and it will be granted. The disciple rushed to chamber but as soon as he entered it he was stunned and could not demand anything from the God. He returned. The master asked him if he put his demands before the Goddess. The young disciple realized that he had gone inside for an entirely different purpose. Master asked him to go inside again but the same thing happened.

The young disciple then realized that wealth was not something that he was truly seeking. It was something entirely different. He was not meant for seeking wealth and worldly pleasures. He was probably designed for a different life.

What is the moral of the story and how does it relate to Dr. Manmohan Singh ?

Imagine the guru had instantly prayed to the God on his disciple’s demand that he be bestowed by wealth and all other material pleasures he is seeking. Assume that the wish was granted. The young disciple would have got stuck into a life he was not actually meant for. He would have lived a life of dishonesty. The man would have hated his riches and would have longed throughout his life for something else. That life would have been pitiable.

Imagine Dr. Manmohan Singh’s life. Let us consider Dr. Manmohan Singh in 2004. He had a rare kind of resume. He had decorated posts that would fetch envy of even the brightest scholars in the country. He was supposed to be an economist. Most importantly he had done what actually few economists manage to do. Turning around the fortune of a nation. In our case nation of a billion people. He was being viewed as an architect of 1992 reforms which partially broke the chains of socialism that our country was tied in. It gave us hope for a better future and because of that today several people managed to get themselves out of poverty. The reforms were half hearted but no one blamed Dr. Manmohan Singh for that, the political leadership was blamed for the negative aspect of reforms or lack thereof.

Someone recently asked Dr.  Swami a question.

Why a person like you is not made prime minister of this country.

Dr. Swamy’s reply was very astute.

I may not have become a a Prime Minister but I have become everything else. I have enjoyed all that. On the other hand, if I had become a Prime Minister may be I would not have enjoyed so much. Look at Dr. Manmohan Singh. He became prime minister but for that he lost all his reputation that took years to build.

Just like the young disciple in the story, Dr. Manmohan Singh’s gravest mistake was probably his failure to understand his own limits.

Today look at Dr. Manmohan Singh’s image.

The hypothesis that he is weak is being upheld by almost everyone. Every person who was singing praises for his unquestionable integrity today is finding out that he happens to lead India’s most corrupt government ever. Not just that but the only defense that he has to present is that he was personally ignorant of any scam. The man who was once praised as an intellectual today fears to address the nation. He conducts closed room interviews (probably scripted) with chosen people. Once a renowned bureaucrat today can not keep his subordinates into his control. At every stage, at every occasion he seems helpless. Indeed he has lost all his reputation in return of two Prime Ministerial terms.

In my opinion Dr. Manmohan Singh was made to take orders and execute them swiftly with precision. P. V. Narsimha Rao had given him a budget to present in 1992. He merely read it out and took credit for is as directed. Fate landed him in a position that required him to do many things on his own besides taking orders from Sonia Gandhi and Dr. Manmohan Singh failed miserably in the former part. If you notice he has done very well when it comes to executing Sonia’s orders. Quatrochi was let off. Black money issue was killed by confusion. NAC was given a major role into everything. Baba Ramdev’s agitation was suppressed with use of force. Several cabinet ministers were given a free hand to do whatever they wanted. Special favors were granted to Robert Vadra and so on. Dr. Manmohan Singh has executed all Sonia’s order with great efficiency.

But look at the issues where he had to take his own decisions. Sharm-el-Shaikh, 26/11, indo-pak peace talks, Relationship with china, reforms 2.0 , 2G scam and so on.

What looked to be the Anakin Skywalker, the boy who was supposed to restore balance to the force has turned out to be Darth Vader, the evil himself.

This bird must be killed

When I see a toaster malfunctioning and when I write software with bugs I know how complex even ordinary things are. So I always wondered how people really trust airlines with their life when it is such complex machine. Couple it with governments incomparable intelligence for messing up things and I made my mind never to fly by Indian Airlines.

Why a government should be in aviation business is something that my naive mind doesn’t understand. It has nothing to with national security, public good, governance etc. There are several other airlines which running in this country which offer a far better service.

Today’s news reads that this company has registered losses of Rs. 1.2 billion dollars. All this money came from my pocket and was wasted on over aged air hostesses, pilots who molest air hostesses, ministers flying and drunk passengers. My hard earned money was drained by the people I cant stand for 5 minutes.

There are several ironies that exist in our country. One of them is “a self proclaimed pro-poor (read pro-poverty) government running a service affordable only to 10% of it’s people”. This pro-poor government which apparently goes wrong on every economic aspect is headed by a “honest” man who owns a Phd. in economics.

When Arun Shourie went ahead with disinvestment he was termed as anti-poor, scandalous and what not. Both congress and media were up in arms against him. They argued that government is ought to be in the business of running hotels, bankrupt business and communication. Now that they are in power they are all for reforms.

They justify their moves by saying even NDA did the same thing. They too disinvested and we too are disinvesting.

There is a fundamental difference.

Government should not run businesses because it is simply not good at it. It not only screws up things it also holds back the potential of that particular industry. For example VSNL after being acquired by TATA has grown leaps and bounds. It has also significantly improve the quality of services thats available to industries. (Though they are still far from what is required).

When these businesses run in losses they inflict much more damage. They act as a sink of valuable public money. The $1.2b wasted by Air India could have been used to do so many wonderful things. It was a sufficient amount to fund the new 7 IITs. It was enough to build couple of more sea links.

The idea behind disinvestment is not just selling some of your assets to save your ass for a year or more but it should be strategic. It must be done is a way that it not only gets money to government but also changes the way in which it is being managed. This is possible only if you get rid of majority stake. This is precisely is not happening.

Disinvestment in AirIndia will be a gross mistake if the government does sell it’s majority stake and changes it’s management. Rather with such huge liabilities no will be ready to acquire this bird in any ways. I guess it must be killed. But then no will like to kill the bird that lays golden egg worth $1.2b in they backyard.

Quick thought on SSC exams abolishment

Everyone wants reforms in education but the relevance of those reforms with respect to development will depend only on the nature of reforms.

Kapil Sibbal the HRD minister has shown intentions to abolish SSC examinations. I would say its a very commendable step. But the reason he cites worries me. He says it should be done to eliminate the stress on students and parents.This is completely unacceptable.

I don’t believe that examination causes stress. The real stress is because the extreme compulsion to succeed. For example no once faces that extreme stress while answering NTSE, because success or failure in this examination does not mean end of the road.

The board examination on other hand is important because the marks that we score in this exam determine which stream we will join and in which college. One mark less and we might have to settle with a not so good higher secondary college. Hence each mark is important, hence that extreme fatal stress erupts in the young minds.

The root cause of stress here is the difference between demand and supply. There are thousands of students who pass out SSC with aspirations to go into a good college. There are very few good college. So few that in a state like Goa you can count them on figures of one hand and still some fingers will remain unaccounted. The government run higher secondaries everywhere are considered as the most inferior ones while private run colleges are given preference. Clearly the lack of educational infrastructure is the main cause behind this stress.

As long as this difference would persist competition would be inevitable. If you try to artificially stop the competition, the only other option left is corrupt practices. Say if SSC board examinations are abolished and the examinations are conducted by respective school. Now the school administration will get so much power that they will not hesitate to charge for it. A few years of this game and the HSSC colleges will no more believe in school conducted examinations. Either they will have their own internal examinations which again are easier to rig.

Sibbal is not a fool not to understand this. Hence his next move comes as abolishment of all state boards and have a central board conducting a certification exam for SSC. This examination will be optional. That means the bright students who face the stress of competition would continue to face it, only the exam will change. If earlier it was total marks now it will be higher percentile.

For whom will the life ease? For those who do not plan to study further after 10th. Those who would not pass 10th examination if it was conducted by a board. The school will pass them out of compassion or for money.

Personally for Sibbal he will be able to show that number of 10th pass students in his country goes up over night by 30%. Many applications for government job where 10th is the criteria.

This decision would make sense only if Sibbal has more concrete plans to reduce the demand supply gap. That will be the only way to reduce the stress on bright students.