Manmohan Singh undoubtedly heads a government that is corrupt to the core.
While the criticism from the Indian media, independent commentators and politicians has been brushed aside, that from foreign television channels and the press has been resented. In fact, there has been much anger about this.
The highly respected “The Economist” wrote in one of its latest issues: “He may be the only world leader who enters Iranian airspace, breathes a sigh of relief and feels his blood pressure fall. Manmohan Singh, India’s prime minister, has arrived in Tehran for a summit of the non-aligned movement. He leaves behind a crisis over an official report into the dodgy award of 57 coal fields to private firms between 2005-2009. It has escalated far above the level of soot and pick-axes to once again bring into question the government’s ability to run the country.”
A few days after “The Economist” barb came another, this time from the equally well regarded The Washington Post, which minced no words: “The architect of India’s economic reforms, Singh was a major force behind his country’s rapprochement with the United States and is a respected figure on the world stage.
“But the image of the scrupulously honourable, humble and intellectual technocrat has slowly given way to a completely different one: a dithering, ineffectual bureaucrat presiding over a deeply corrupt government,” it said.
New Delhi sprang to life, so to say, and demanded an apology from The Washington Post. But it offered none for an article penned by its India bureau chief, who also called Manmohan a “’silent” prime minister who has become “a tragic figure”.
Did the apology come? It was rumoured that it did.
But Simon Denyer, the bureau chief, in a tweet from his personal account, responded to a reader saying: “@KabirTaneja, It is not true. No threats were issued from their side, no apology was offered from mine.”
Some months ago, Time had dubbed Manmohan an “underachiever”.
Some of the latest criticisms against Manmohan were provoked by the controversy plaguing his government over coal blocks allocation to private players that has resulted in the country losing Rs 1.86 lakh crores.
The opposition has been demanding Manmohan’s resignation, and has not been allowing Parliament to function. In fact, the Monsoon Session ended the other day with no business being transacted.
In the meantime, Sonia Gandhi, president of the Congress Party and the real power behind the government, has gone away to the US for her second round of medical treatment. The nature of her illness still remains firmly under wraps.
It is very unfortunate that New Delhi should be upset over such critical articles. Instead of trying to put the economy back on the track, the Congress Party is needlessly wasting its time and energy in lambasting the foreign media. Which has only spoken the truth, the well-known, well-documented truth.
And why should it hurt the government so much when such truth appears in the foreign media?
Many Indian commentators and most television channels and newspapers have pointed out to the dismal state of India. Manmohan undoubtedly heads a government that is corrupt to the core.
I wonder whether there has been another administration which has been as dishonest and fraudulent as the present one.
It is fact that Manmohan has done precious little for the country in this term of his. The economy is sinking, the growth figures are abysmally low and the inflation is horribly high.
And, Manmohan’s government sleeps, allowing thieves to have a free run, while the common man struggles to survive.
Gautaman Bhaskaran is a Chennai-India based author, columnist and film critic, and can be contacted at [email protected]. He is an FMT columnist.