Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, as the leader of India, should be visiting every state capital of this ailing country, reaching out to the people, explaining the overwhelming crisis and creating a future to look forward to, instead of only travelling to international capitals, particularly in a hugely disturbed year. As the head of the Union, he has ignored the country he rules and has not at all been active in this subcontinent. He is seen nowhere in India. He addresses no one in India. He has become much like a roving ambassador of India in Western capitals. There have been many trips overseas and the result has been abysmal, both in matters of foreign policy and international investment. With the exception of a ‘strong relationship’ with the United States of America, the relationship with the rest of the world has been polite and non-committal. And we all know well that the release of a bailout by the International Monetary Fund does not need a prime minister to travel to the US. His representatives can tie up the deal.
India will lose its potential strength in the region if it is seen as an acolyte of the US. American interventions across the world over the last many decades have divided peoples and cultures, polarized communities and interfered in societal change and development. There was a time when India could have refashioned its role in South Asia and supported ‘democracy’ in its fullest definition, in the region and beyond. India should have been supportive of its neighbours and of those with whom age-old affinities of culture and faith were closer and more comprehensible than the mindset and philosophies of an alien Western world. Playing second fiddle in a short-term game, ignoring traditional partners, has diluted the presence and leadership of India in Asia.
Internally, the re-introduction of higher taxes, imposition of levies on personal effects procured through well-earned, declared, white monies, an attack on spending by indulging in rather unintelligent caps and more, are, once again, creating opportunities for corrupt enforcers of the ‘law’ to demand dirty lucre. Why this regression into a time past, the time of the command economy? Is the government utterly devoid of ideas and sane initiatives to ensure honesty? First the government eases up spending, encourages buying of high-end, ‘quality’ goods and services, and then, because of its own inabilities and corrupt practices, backtracks, thinking it will mop up money. This is farcical, archaic, anti-people and anti-growth.
The government has failed to be honest and upright in enforcement and collection. Why then assault the citizen, who generates wealth for this dying nation state? Dr Sahib, surely you know this better than anyone else? You promised to extract India out of the horrors of the command economy. Why are you leading it back into that mire? Why did you create aspiration in the souls of the young men and women of the new generation by respecting the demands of a new age and why are you now making them regress into the shallow, untenable strictures of the past? Why is your dispensation bent on killing the spirit of India? Why is it making sure we lose our dignity as a people and as a country?
The only positive in all this is that regional leaders seem to care and appear to be working on building their individual states. Competition among states will bring a new sense of health and challenge. The Centre will become increasingly irrelevant, and that will make India a strong federal reality. That will be the emergent strength of this republic. But why has the Congress abandoned this public space, handing the domain over to the Opposition? What is the reason behind this hara-kiri?