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As simple in deportment as the leader of a nation should be

As simple as the gentleman might seem, in appearance and conduct, it never really would be an easy task to pass off a comment on Manmohan Singh as the Prime Minister of India. Leave alone come up with a write up on how one feels about having a Prime Minister like Manmohan Singh.

The man may be simple in his demeanour, but the personality and the stature underneath that is certainly not. I do not know how many of us are aware, but Mr. Singh has a very high degree of credibility attributed to him by international media and his counterparts from other countries. Perhaps of all the available views on the man, those two could possibly be termed as largely neutral.

A lot has been written and reported about the man in the past nine years. I suppose another write up on him vis-à-vis the facts and figures would just be adding onto the yawn inducing pile of “oh there’s more statistics!”

So I suppose we come down the level of scrutiny and just tinker over the basics and see what we can conclude with. The Oxford dictionary defines a “leader” as “someone who guides or directs”.  I chose the Oxford definition simply because Mr. Singh went through this education at the university from the same place.

Now what do I see when I look at the head of the country being Manmohan Singh? I could choose to succumb to the media frenzy being created by his political opponents and base my opinion simply on his oratory skills. Alas, leading a country takes more than a leader’s ability to get on stage and make “playing to the gallery” statements. Or I could look deeper and see if there’s more to the story than meets the eye.

When someone says that Mr. Singh has no vision for this country and he lacks the will to take this country forward I suppose we are displaying symptoms of collective retrograde amnesia. When other parties talk about “oh so great” reforms and plans they have for the country, they might as well be reminded that it was the same man (who as per them “lacks the vision and the will”) who orchestrated the execution of the whole reforms agenda back in 1991. Being the financial wizard that he is, I guess his vision on all matters of finance can safely be assumed to be better than a lot of others available on the current political spectrum.

And if we go by the annual growth in GDP for the last fiscal year amongst the world’s major economies, India (6.5%) was second only to China (7.8%). For all that I know, USA grew by 2.2%, Germany 0.7%, UK 0.2% and France had zero growth in GDP. If those numbers are even a slightest measure, I would think that this country isn’t doing all that bad considering the times we live in.

Have some of us forgotten that India is an increasingly global economy? And the fact that it is no longer to prudent to view Indian economy in isolation? If you lived in Iran, then yes the isolated view would be justified. But here??  Well! It’s a free country. Make your own call on that one.

We could drill down to various scams and allegations and the various national security issues that have happened and spend time attributing the blame on Mr. Singh. The facts of the matter remain that these are what we call as ongoing matters of a government. You could have a government made of India loving aliens and these matters would still exist. In such matters there will always be scope for improvement. Pinning it on the incumbent government and its head is only political gaming.

Ours is a country full of diverse challenges. We have a mountainous task to execute to eradicate our ills and bring parity to all, and at all levels. That will take time and that’s what is called Nation Building. The nation will be built collectively. There cannot be a pied piper who will come and take our ills away. However, in today’s murky political conundrum, politicians are ready to cast an illusion, of our country being only as far away from greatness as one great pied piper PM. If you subscribe to that line of thought, I think there’s a particular name for the paradise you must be living in. I hope you know the name!

And for all the follies of Mr. Singh’s government, yes there should be investigations and pulling up of people for not carrying out their duties diligently. But one must remember that we do not live in a two party political system. We live in a country that presented the world with a workable model of coalition governments. And the fact that we as a country are giving rise regional parties rampantly will make coalition equations all the more impactful in upcoming times.

Looking at a recent study done by a leading magazine house, BJP was projected at attaining 132 seats in the next general election while the Congress was projected at somewhere around 115. What does that tell you?

Now you might be wondering what happened to the fact that I was supposed to view Manmohan Singh in light of the Oxford dictionary definition. I just drifted on a little fact and commentary based soiree above only to make my point clearer that when it comes to seeing Manmohan Singh as the leader of this country, I am content with the fact that the man at the helm of complicated political affairs of this country has done a competent job over the last nine years. Nine years is a long time.

Managing the whims and fancies of (some) opportunist coalition partners through nine years while battling through the most unstable of economic times worldwide,  I would say that Mr. Singh has directed and guided this country pretty admirably. It is a time in the world when the measurement of success of countries is done on the scale of how badly they are doing. I would say under Mr. Singh this country has not at all done badly. History will eventually pass a judgment on Mr. Singh. It is the fate of men at great positions. And it looks more than likely he will not return for a third term but for the two he has given this country, I bet history’s judgment on him will be that he was the best leader this country could have had at the time he was PM.

It takes integrity, sincerity and dedication to not be tempted by supreme power, or be agitated for being mocked and played down on a daily basis and still stay focused on executing your “job”. A lot of us will relate to that, wouldn’t we?  I would say the 13th Prime Minister of India would be one of the finest on those lines, no matter when the history looks upon him and compares him to whosoever has or would hold that esteemed office.  And those lines are what eventually matter for a leader, not showmanship.

Leaders should be apt for their unique times and situations and their leadership judged thusly. Alexander, the great was appropriate for his time and country and Mr. Singh, the reluctant premier, for this one.

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