Monday, May 01, 2006

Another politician out of the closet

I had always thought of P. Chidambaram as a gifted intellectual capable of providing India the kind of enlightened leadership which is sorely lacking in the rest of its political class. I am sorry to admit that even though it took a while, finally he has exposed himself as just another power hungry, sleazy politician nothing more than a Harvard educated version of Laloo Prasad Yadav.

India needs reservations pronounces the revered finance minister. No sir, what India really needs is sensible, prinicipled politicians who can make sound sensible policies to get rid of myriad of its problems. India needs roads, power, clean drinking water for millions of its denizens, corruption free government, a good education system, liberation from its caste based society, liberation from its religious conflicts. It needs more economic growth, more opportunities for its young population, more accountability from its governments, less red-tape, more freedom for businesses to operate, more investments in its social sectors and infrastructure. What India does not need is its power hungry political class to carve it up into million pieces based on caste and creed, institutionalise discrimination, bring down its few excellent educational institutions, stifle merit, reduce opportunities for millions of young and hard-working students all in the name of providing "social justice".

A good friend of mine pointed out that smart people with a dangerous ideology can do much more harm to a society than a bunch of jingoists. People like Chidambaram are those dangerous "educated" hawks who are bent upon destroying the very idea of India for their selfish short term political gains. India will be a better place without people like him.


anuja said...

Nehruvian socialism has always been fraught with problems. Nehru while envisioning the "nation" and "national unity" and "progress" brushed aside the rising demands for special seats and representation in the legislature by the minorities(Muslim and lower class Hindus and dalits).He failed to realise the propensity of the issue and deemed these demands as mere "narrow political demands". today politicians like Chidambram are committing a much more ghastly mistake in trying to rectify the past. Their misfounded vision of rebuilding the nation (which they deem can MAINLY/ ONLY be done by a redressal of grievances of the backward who have always been the exploited)is as faulty as Nehru's vision was.They fail to realise that if Nehru made the mistake of not addressing the rightly founded anxiety of minorities in the face of partition, they are setting up a model that is precariously balanced on another mandal commission - it is going to open a chasm within the society where it will be a nihilistic death of democracy in the name of mis contextualised socialism.

Vivek said...

nicely said.

Intelligent people (including the ones in Constituent Assmebly) have done India a great disservice by promoting reservation.

Sriram said...


I maybe accused of bias on this topic, but I am going to disagree once again on many counts:

All this talk about reservations affects only a small number of colleges(i.e. centrally run, IIT, AIIMS etc.) and not exactly the most pressing matter for the millions of Indians who have nothing to eat today as I am browsing and posting this comment here. Keeping that in perspective, I will be worried if PC had publicly opposed it and was forced to quit and hence I shall attempt to defend PC(Palaniappan Chidambaram) and so here goes

I have heard the man speak and to my limited knowledge of economics and markets, I think he is very knowledgeable and the work he has done as Commerce and Finance Minister has been exemplary. Even tooday the PC's office is supposed to be the most efficiently run among all ministries. His loss would be greater than (hypothetically speaking) acting on principle and speaking out against reservations(something he has no official power anyway), losing his job and Laloo taking over( and, ofcourse, making Rabri, the Reserve Bank Governor). If all such politicians who work for India's growth were to get out of politics, it would mean a return to the days of 60s, 70s and 80s, the "The Lost Decades" as popularly known, where India stutters on with 2-3% growth unable to feed its millions and famines, floods and workers strike with alarming regularity. Rabri or Sonia will be the new Indira and things will repeat all over again.

People who can contribute to society should be utilized fully and not be judged on opinions that do not count in reality, like in this case ,PC is never likely to be HRD minister to overturn it or even propose the law if he were actually in support of it. I think India's main problems has been due to the fact almost all effective politicians have not had had the nous to survive and make sure their job was well done (which should be their focus and not be sidetracked by other issues not in their domain). Like most people they get highly emotional and quit based on "principle" that does no one any good. This way, Indian politics has been stripped of all its effective leaders and what remains are only the Laloos and Paswans dragging the country down further.

For me the metric for PC would be an evenly distributed(across industries/population) 8% growth in the coming years. Nothing else counts for him.

Now to the other claim that the Laloos and Paswans or other jingoists are better than people like PC. Compare Bihar to Tamil Nadu. Tamil Nadu has had reservations for a long time, infact the first state to do so(the landmark case of 1951 was in fact the State of Madras defending reservations in the Supreme Court) and for a long time had 69% of the seats reserved. On hindsight, we arent doing so badly at all. Giants from the independence struggle remained in the political mainstream: Rajaji, Kamaraj, etc. Far more prosperous and far more peaceful. Give that some thought.

PS: Laloo, Rabri, Sonia, Indira and Paswan are used as symbols of the type of politician they were, not the actual person themselves.

Vivek Gupta said...


Reservation does effect quite a significant number of institutes and what is worse is that the government is extending it to post-graduate level education as well, where it is even harder to justify other than on obvious political grounds. However, this is beside the point, the real issue is the message this policy carries and its long term implications. One clear message one can decipher from this absurdity is that the government of India would risk undermining India's institutions (and not just educational ones)and creating social tension for their short term political gains. This has gone on for 60 years now and the question is how much more are Indians willing to tolerate. Reservation may not be the most important matter among myriad of problems facing our country, but that does not mean one should not voice opinion on something which one sees as injustice.

I have no doubt that Chidambaram is a very capable economist. He certainly has the education and the experience to deal with the complexities of india's economy, and he has done a good job with it during his stint as finance minister on both occasions. That is the reason I had a lot of admiration for him and I never thought of him as a politician first, which he clearly is.

It is not true that his opinion does not count. He holds a very important position in Indian government and what he says on any policy issue carries a lot of significance as at the very least it carries a very strong message to the general public. He certainly had no "need" to voice his "opinion" either way. As you pointed out the issue does not concern his ministry, the only people who need to talk are the PM and HRD minister Arjun Singh. The fact that he chose to make this statement shows that the politician in him does not want to let go of any political mileage he can garner. If a Laloo or Paswan did that, I can understand because this is what I expect from politicians of that ilk, however coming from Chidambaram it was quite a disappointment.

About Tamilnadu's prosperity, I am not sure how much of contribution has reservation policy made towards it. If a fire in my house does not destroy it that does not mean it is alright to set the house on fire. It could very well be the case that Tamilnadu's prosperity is inspite of this fire of reservation instead of because of it.