A Newsweek survey rates Manmohan Singh the "leader of leaders". Why exactly, we would like to ask!
BV Rao | August 19, 2010
Just the other day Khushwant Singh declared Manmohan Singh the best prime minister the country has ever had. We are trained to suspect any certificate of Indian origin unless it comes with a foreign endorsement so I did not take that seriously. But the foreign endorsement followed soon enough. Two days later, Newsweek gave him the title of the most respected world leader, a sort of “leader of leaders”.
The very same Indian training I just mentioned leaves me with no option but to believe this foreign endorsement of Manmohan’s greatness. But I don’t seem to be able to get rid of some stray thoughts. Such as:
1. If all the world leaders admire Manmohan the most and that makes him the best leader on the planet just now, what does it say of the state of the world as it is today?
2. Knowing as all Indians do that Manmohan hardly opens his mouth on anything, just what is it that these world leaders admire him for? His sherwani? His immaculately tied blue pagri? His resume that reads a mile-long? Just what?
3. Before they started admiring Manmohan, were these world leaders informed that our PM hardly ever takes a stand? That he is unaccustomed to letting us know what he thinks? That he calls a press conference once in four years just to say “I can’t comment on that now”?
4. His stony silence as Kashmir burns, as Raja rakes in the billions, as Mamata dines with the Maoists, as Kalmadi and Co. turn the Commonwealth Games into a national circus, as prices hit the roof and food grains rot in the open, reminds us of A K Hangal in Sholay: “Yahan itna sannata kyon hai bhai (why this defeaning silence)”, except that we should be asking that question.
5. Or does Manmohan talk a lot when he meets these world leaders because: a) they are all discussing the economy and he knows a thing or two about it, and b) because The Family is not expansionist and it’s fine if the PM comes across as smart and in control outside India?
6. Why do these world leaders think that while, as the same Newsweek survey says, his government is still steeped in corruption and sloth, Manmohan himself is clean and full of integrity? Is it because they admire Manmohan’s acting skills? For playing the blind king Dhritarashtra who did not punish his sons for molesting Draupadi because he saw nothing?
7. And how does Manmohan know what to do and what to say that floors these world leaders, considering that here in India he seems to have no clue about anything at all? Why, till the other day, he did not even know that his government is responsible for conducting the Games successfully. Thank god Sonia Gandhi came back from her two-week holiday and cleared his confusion. Had she not decided that the Games were the government’s concern, Manmohan would have continued to behave like the Games were being held in Cameroon, whether or not Cameroon is a Commonwealth member!
8. Do these world leaders envy Manmohan his extra-ordinary (some might call it extra-constitutional) arrangement wherein he doesn’t have to address anything till he is specifically asked to or only when he realises that the “people who matter” don’t have a view on it? Or do they admire his brilliant strategy to outsource the rest of (whatever little) work he has to Pranab Mukherjee and his nth GoM?
9. Do they admire Manmohan for the breadth of his knowledge or the width of the market he has opened up for them? Maybe they are impressed with him for his untiring efforts to ensure that their companies don’t have to shell out the billions in case of a nuclear accident? Or because Manmohan it seems can hardly disagree with them on most matters?
10. Or, is it that I’m just a jealous little prig? Or that I’m not a proud Indian?
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