November 29, 2006EconomyForeign AffairsPublic PolicySecurity

Statements don’t equal reform

And why Manmohan Singh should quit

This is an archived blog post from The Acorn.

Sanjaya Baru, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s spinmeister-in-chief writes in to the editor of the Hindustan Times to defend his boss. He accuses Sagarika Ghose of being cavalier when she wrote that …towering over the reforms process is a certain deafening silence on the part of Manmohan Singh on the needs and the ambitions of the 21st century Indian reformer”.

Manmohan Singh, Baru reminds us, has…made other important statements on all the issues that Ghose wants a 21st century reformer to address”.

Ghose refers in particular to urban renewal and police reforms. Not only has the PM spoken on both issues, he has also spoken of the need for humane urbanisation. The PM has launched the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission and has also set up a mission on police reforms. [HT]

Of sure, Manmohan Singh has spoken about the need to reform a lot of things. He has even pointed out what is the biggest threat to India’s internal security. As have millions of ordinary citizens. Stating the need for reform is stating the obvious. The prime minister though—especially one with those much touted reformist credentials’—is expected to, well, do the reforming bit. There is a distinct difference between statements and reforms that Baru is glossing over. Wags have a nice way of putting it: No Action, Talk Only”.

If a government scheme has a name as long as Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission it safely can be counted to be as short in terms of actual results. Still, Manmohan Singh can take credit for launching it. But on police reform who is Baru kidding? The chief reason why there is movement on that front is because the judiciary stepped in to impose the reform on a reluctant government. The judiciary did so because of relentless action by civil society groups. It so happened that the judiciary’s decision came under Manmohan Singh’s watch. And there is still a good chance that Shivraj Patil, his home minister, will botch it up.

No amount of spin doctoring can hide the fact that the UPA government has little to show: the 8% economic growth is not because of it, but not yet in spite of it. But warning signs have already appeared. It is only the happily growing economy has caused the electorate to ignore Manmohan Singh’s overall failure.

Why Manmohan Singh should quit

On this blog: Why he lost the moral right to govern; zero for public leadership; and why he is doing more harm than good by covering up for a government that is running India to ground.

On The Indian National Interest: On his appeasement of Musharraf (on Retributions); on criminals in his cabinet (on Offstumped)

On Atanu Dey’s blog: on his institutionalising discrimination

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