Date: 18 Aug 2010


Crisis of leadership////////// ////////////// The Pioneer Edit Desk //////////// Manmohan Singh fails to enthuse nation ///////////// If the nation was looking forward to an inspirational speech by the Prime Minister on its 64th Independence Day, then it was sorely disappointed. Mr Manmohan Singh, admittedly not gifted with oratorial skills and a less-than-enthusiastic public speaker in the best of times, simply failed to either stir emotions or rouse passions on an otherwise gloomy Sunday — the gloom aptly symbolised the mood of the nation under the looming shadow of multiple threats and challenges. True, the Prime Minister did well not to announce a slew of new programmes and policies: The ramparts of the Red Fort are not meant for this purpose. In any event, with little happening on either the policy or programme front in any sector of national life in the seventh year of the UPA regime, fresh announcements would have been invariably met with scorn if not disdain. The reiteration of the UPA’s flagship programmes by Mr Singh, unfortunately for him, his party and the Government he heads, has only served to heighten the cynicism that is rapidly coming to replace hope, especially among those whom the Congress is given to describing as the aam admi but for whose welfare and uplift it has done precious little, more so after last summer’s general election saw it retaining power. A year into UPA2, the party and its leaders have begun to show a certain arrogance that has made them indifferent to the masses. As much was evident when the Prime Minister, while referring to the back-breaking rise in the prices of essential commodities and the untamed food inflation, neither promised corrective measures nor offered hope of early easing of prices. On the contrary, he more or less said that the people have to learn to live with inflation and his Government would do nothing to ease the burden on the aam admi. Mr Singh, of course, believes that the people can be made to forget such pressing concerns by telling them about the wondrous things his Government has been doing by way of wasteful ‘social welfare’ schemes that promote entitlement over empowerment. /////////////// Similarly, his near-casual reference to the major threats to internal and external security reflects the near-absence of policy and intent in the Government to tackle these on a war-footing instead of letting them fester. It is laughable that the Prime Minister should, parrot-like, reiterate his Government’s offer of dialogue with the separatists in Kashmir, the insurgents in the North-East and the Maoists. Surely Mr Singh does not believe that this is a substitute for policy? What we saw on Sunday was a tired head of a Government paralysed by divisions and differences going through the motion of addressing the nation more as an annual ritual than a leader robustly proclaiming his vision of India. This could be because the separation of office and authority, of post and power, has at last begun to tell on the health of the Union Government, sapping it of all energy and enthusiasm. India’s crisis of leadership has begun to show as never before. And, it is evident that this crisis will only worsen by the day, never mind the bunkum that the publicists of the Congress and the spin masters of the PMO put out through friendly media, portraying the current dispensation as the answer to India’s myriad problems. ////////////// 000000000