Tuesday, 12 July 2011
CABINET RESHUFFLE: AN OPPORTUNITY MISSED
There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.
Julius Caesar Act 4, scene 3, 218–224
The stage was set for Dr. Manmohan Singh to rise to the occasion. Embattled with charges of corruption against the coalition he leads, rattled by the tirade of the Civil Society, this was the septuagenarian’s chance to give a befitting reply to his critics and the nation; that as a Prime Minister, his integrity and probity was unquestionable, that the cabinet reshuffle as he had promised, would truly be ‘expansive’
But, in the end, the Cabinet Reshuffle just turned out be a damp squib, lacking both credence and conviction, reminiscent of a tale of missed opportunities.
Case1- JAIRAM BOWS OUT, GREEN SIGNAL FOR JAYANTHI
Jairam Ramesh, as the erstwhile Environment Minister raised the most potent and relevant questions. An activist in the garb of a politician, he single-handedly prioritised ecological concerns and put it right on the UPA’s agenda. Here was a man who never shied away from calling a spade a spade. His crusade against the development enthusiasts and corporate lobby was perhaps the most fascinating “untold’ story of 2010, though it made him a ‘not so favourite’ in the corridors of power and that of 10 Janpath.
Jairam blocked the FDI to the tune of 51000 crore by Posco in Orissa, vetoed the final approval to Lavasa for infringing on environmental laws, made Praful Patel sweat over the Navi Mumbai. Mr. Patel even went all guns blazing against Ramesh on national TV for his obsession with environmental laws. Though, his decision to surge ahead with the 9900 MW nuclear plant project in Jaitapur,Maharashtra propelled him in the epicentre of controversy, the bigger picture tells a different story. Jairam Ramesh, his gaffes notwithstanding, was assertive in putting environmental concerns ahead of India Inc. In his vendetta on behalf of the mangroves, he may have antagonised the elite who love the malls and airports instead.
Case 2- THE CURIOUS CASE OF VAYALAR RAVI
When Vayalar Ravi took over the reins from outgoing Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel in January, 2011, the humongous losses suffered by Air India stared blankly at him in the face. Losses pegged at almost Rs.720 crore then, Ravi’s biggest challenge was to restore the old glory of the national carrier. Air India, a monopoly at one time today is just a frail shadow of itself, retaining as much as 13% of the market share. Today, a passenger shudders before boarding an Air India flight. Delayed flights, bad timings, unreachable customer care rule the roost at Air India.
Six months, down the line, the bleeding carrier is contemplating approaching the RBI for a special waiver after defaulting on payment of service tax and interest, and owes to the tune of 48000 crore.
Vayalar Ravi is certainly not to be blamed for the mess. A certain Mr. Patel might take offence. But a sneak peek into the steps he has taken since his tenure, and Mr.Ravi cuts a sorry figure. He has done NOTHING, to hasten AI’s speedy recovery. In the last six months, there has been no positive signs from the ageing politician that could help us nourish hopes about the cash strapped airlines’ turn around. The AI obituary has been written. He is perhaps copy-editing it!
At this juncture, Dr. Manmohan Singh should have relieved Ravi of his duties and instead appointed a more dynamic, forthcoming person to script the aviation industry turnaround. Someone who could formulate ideas to tap profitable routes, ideate on rebuilding the brand and take eager steps in re-instilling the respect for AI in the minds of the jetsetters and the common class. But instead, he chose to retain Ravi. This shows utter lack of pro-activeness on the part of the PM.
Case 3: VILASRAO: BLOW TO PROPRIETY
Why is Vilasrao still in the Cabinet? – Is a question that journalists have asked for long. Former Maharashtra CM & recently nominated Minister of Science and Technology and Minister of Earth sciences is an accused in the infamous Adarsh Housing Scam for marking the Adarsh file as ‘tatkal’. A Mumbai collector testified against Deshmukh last week, thereby bringing his very integrity under the scanner. In such a scenario, the PM in a rarest show of propriety should gave handed over Deshmukh a VRS and instead inducted someone with adequate knowledge about the ambit of the ministry, someone who not just be a namesake minister but contribute to the pivotal role of the ministry in promoting science and technology in the country. Vilasrao, anyways has no remarkable achievement as a Rural Development Minister to vouch for.
Case 4- CABINET: RAHUL’S ABSENCE OF PRESENCE
Rahul Baba, for long has been looked upon as the ‘PM –in-waiting’ . The media’s blue eyed boy, Congress loyalists have never lost an opportunity in vouching for Rahul’s Prime Ministerial qualities on national TV. Their comments may have appeased Rahul’s mommy, but has he really proven himself at the national level. If the Congress is so affirmative about Rahul’s PM credentials, shouldn’t he have been given or rather compelled to take up a ministerial post to prove that’ the taste of the pudding is in the eating’? Merely shaking hands with villagers or eating at a Dalit household wouldn’t make him pass the acid test. The rule is simple: If you desire to become the captain of your team, be a part of the team first.
Rahul, as far as my memory serves has never openly craved for the PM’s post. But if he wishes to be the messiah of the farmers, why doesn’t he take up a post of responsibility and change things around. For heavens sake, the guy in 41 and has been in national politics for seven years. Mrs Gandhi, what stopped you from telling your boy to take up a position of responsibility and accountability in the government.
The Cabinet Reshuffle , thereby in my opinion is a tale of ‘missed opportunities’. Being the class monitor, he should have dealt with the bullies with an iron hand and encouraged those who showed spark of good work. Guess, the PM needs to go back to school!