If Time magazine Asia edition cover story— with the caption "India needs a reboot. Is Prime Minister Manmohan Singh up to the job?" — was the understatement of the year, the resultant brouhaha has certainly been over the top.
Clearly, this is not the worst report card the PM has received. He has been called far worse things, far less euphemistically. Nationally. And internationally. So what explains the over-defensive reaction which saw Congress leaders going into an overdrive in trying to rubbish the "biased" coverage of the magazine?
That the beleaguered BJP and its vocal cheerleaders were quick to remind all and sundry about the rah-rah Narendra Modi cover the magazine had done earlier in March, followed by an opinion poll featuring the Gujarat leader, was only par for the course.
So perhaps the only way to parse the Congress reaction is in the timing because the story — even if it, just as the Modi story, is only in the Asian edition of the international magazine — comes just when the party was hoping for a turnaround in its fortunes with the exit of Pranab Mukherjee from the finance ministry, and the Prime Minister taking charge of the economy.
That the resultant hype over how the PM as FM means business, following the initial spurt in the stock market, has been punctured by this story is perhaps what irks the UPA and Congress spin meisters. Not to miss the fact that the magazine seems to have been provided access to 7, Race Course Road prior to this story.
If the Time story on Narendra Modi in March had appeared almost simultaneously with a Brookings profile of Narendra Modi, this time the story on the prime minister is accompanied by an article for the Project Syndicate by Professors Jagdish Bhagwati and Arvind Panagariya titled The Bell Tolls for India’s Congress Party.
Some of the reactions on Twitter:
[View the story "The Underachiever" on Storify]
Hari >> MMS as a person is an over-achiever (he's had an absolutely awesome career) .... but the governments (UPA I & II) he's headed have been non-achievers or more generously un-achievers .....
MMS is neither an underacheiver nor an overacheiver.. He is just a wonderful shiny shoe which does its duty to protect the feet of the wearer from the harm...
As a shoe, he did a great job for his master (PVNR) in helping PVNR drive the reforms and running India from a complete economic collapse (Soviet Style).. Full credit goes,not just to the shoe but the feet who wore those shoes and ran in the right path (PVNR)..
As a shoe of Sonia -Rahul since 2004, MMS has done what the master wanted, namely crush and stamp the aam admi to benefit the special interest groups that matter to the master (NAC and the Congress corrupt bosses). So the shoe is always a shoe and what has changed is the person who wore those nice shoes..
By taking a shot at Manmohan singh what western media indicates is the overall level of democracy and general atmosphere of India as a nation. PM only happens to be its representative and usually in a democracy if a leader is ineffective he / she gets replaced.
It is true that Indian PM is a puppet, it is also true that there is no viable option to Sonia and the legacy of Nehru dynasty that continues to damage India's image as a democracy. Otherwise, in which country does one see generation after generation of the same family (whether competent or not) rule a country under the garb of elections? Granted Mrs. Gandhi was a competent ruler, but that is about it. Others, by continuing their family hegemony, at best, marginalized the nation and its pride. What the west sees is an India still under dynastic rule, still eager to look to the west, lacking basic amenties such as transport, water, housing and an ill distributed food network. The separation of states using language to divide people, was the legacy of Nehru. It has caused enormous damage in terms of not allowing Indians to unite as one. It takes more than just courage to change such a fundamental flaw in India as a nation. Everyone within and outside India is surprised that Indians are divided by their own leaders and seem to be in no mood to get united.
It is fair to say although well educated, Dr.Singh has very little power to change things. Otherwise, how can a nation be so ignorant to call the recent fiasco of spectrum allocation "2G"? Do the IITs, the industrialists and the so called technocrats in India know what the difference is between 2G and 3G? India the "technology leader", does not participate in any cellular standards (while China dictated and won their own 3G standard of TD_CDMA in 2000-2001). Indian PM continues to issue statements defending "2G", which is actually "3G". Why does he (or more accurately, his not so competent technocrats) not know that the GSM that is operating in India for a decade now is actually "2G"? It is not because he or his country makes no contributions to this important, but basic technology of cell phones. India as a nation only borrows cell phones from the west and uses, but is completely ignorant about the technology behind it. By making such pulbic statements, PM tells the western world that India as a nation is fundamentally ignorant and can only act as a coolie and must be dictated by a western leader or a western corporate body or a westerner (Sonia).
It is better to face facts - only then, change becomes possible. Not otherwise. When technocrats / industry leaders in India make sweeping statements about their contribution, they should honestly ask themselves, why is it that this nation of intelligent people is so poor is basic infrastructure? Why is it so low in research and innovations? Can someone who is not the son / daughter of a business or industrial conglamorate do well? Is there an honest and strong cooperation between academia and the industry to develop new products? How is China able to do this? It is not with a mindset of blindly justifying themselves, but becoming an honest self critic that the nation can put a better image of themselves.
There are positive aspects of India that can be used well. It is still a nation where freedom and open criticism is possible (unlike China). It is also a nation, where its legacy of spiritual and intellectual analysis has continued unabated, despite repeated conquests and attempts to stamp out its culture. This is something to be built upon. If the level of honesty and self analysis practised by the sages several thousand years ago, can be taught again and practised again, yes India can become a leader. India still is a leader in the thought process, that is where it is still recognized and valued. It is important to build on those strengths and put some actions behind them.
Indian growth is down to 5.9%, Rupee down to 56 to a Dollar from 45, SCAM Galore, NEGATIVE Industrial Growth etc etc and things are not likely to improve till next Parliament Election 2014. So THE UNDERACHIEVEMNT stands out as he became PM in 2004 when economy was doing will (almost at take off stage) under BJP rule. ---------------------------------- BUT -------------------------------------- "US Magazine " TIME has vested interest in calling Mr Manmohan Singh an "Underachiever". USA hopes to spite Mr MMS so that he pushes through FDI in RETAIL sector (like he did the nuclear deal) to prove to the world that he is "NOT underachiever". FDI in RETAIL SECTOR will pump in DOLLARS in immidiate future (may bring down Rs to 46 a Dollar) but make slowly bleed the nation "when cheap good from all over the world gets sold in India and profit gets pumped out to US" improvising Indians. -------------------------------- EAST INDIA COMPANY also came to India similarly.
Under-Achiever is an Under-Statement
MMS as a person is an over-achiever (he's had an absolutely awesome career) .... but the governments (UPA I & II) he's headed have been non-achievers or more generously un-achievers .....