Wednesday, September 05, 2012

India's 'silent' Prime Minister becomes a tragic figure

India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's image has slowly given way to a dithering, ineffectual bureaucrat presiding over a deeply corrupt government.

The story of Singh’s dramatic fall from grace in his second term in office and the slow but steady tarnishing of his reputation has played out in parallel with his country’s decline on his watch. As India’s economy has slowed and as its reputation for rampant corruption has reasserted itself, the idea that the country was on an inexorable road to becoming a global power has increasingly come into question.
“More and more, he has become a tragic figure in our history,” said political historian Ramachandra Guha, describing a man fatally handicapped by his “timidity, complacency and intellectual dishonesty.”
Damaging to his reputation is the accusation that he looked the other way and remained silent as his cabinet colleagues filled their own pockets.
In the process, he transformed himself from an object of respect to one of ridicule and endured the worst period in his life, said Sanjaya Baru, Singh’s media adviser during his first term.
Attendees at meetings and conferences were jokingly urged to put their phones into “Manmohan Singh mode,” while one joke cited a dentist urging the seated prime minister, “At least in my clinic, please open your mouth.”
Simon Denyer in The Washington Post. Here

The Rise and fall of Manmohan Singh

The leader of a party allied with the Congress described to me a meeting with Manmohan Singh in December 2005, two months after the release of the UN report investigating abuses in the Iraq Oil-for-Food programme. The report had implicated Natwar Singh, then the minister of external affairs, and he was forced to resign as a result, but it had also named Reliance Petroleum Limited as a beneficiary in the oil-for-food scam. The party leader said he had raised the issue with the prime minister, saying, “Sir, the report mentions not just Natwar, it also prominently mentions Reliance. Why are you not taking any action against Reliance?”
“With a sigh,” the party leader recounted, “Manmohan Singh said to us, ‘After all, what can I do? It is India’s largest corporate.’”  
Vinod K Jose in The Caravan Here and Here 
It is related that, whilst some game was being roasted for Nushirvan the just during a hunting party, no salt could be found. Accordingly a boy was sent to an adjoining village to bring some. Nushirvan said: 'Pay for the salt lest it should become a custom and the village be ruined.' Having been asked what harm could arise from such a trifling demand, Nushirvan replied: 'The foundation of oppression was small in the world but whoever came augmented it so that it reached its present magnitude.'  
If the king eats one apple from the garden of a subject

His slaves will pull him up the tree from the roots.

For five eggs which the sultan allows to be taken by force
The people belonging to his army will put a thousand
fowls on the spit.

A tyrant does not remain in the world
But the curse on him abides for ever.

Sheikh Sa'di in The Gulistan of Sa'adi. More Here and Here

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