A technocrat in his famous blue turban has done everything what was expected from him. From scope of Management education to Economic Reforms, Double dip in world economy to India’s success story- he touched upon all aspects and cleverly referred Lokpal Bill as ‘a topic of discussion’ under the broader spectrum of governance failure! Politician in him compelled him to say some words on Bengal politics too.
Yes, for the first time ever the Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh has graced the IIM Calcutta’s campus at Joka to deliver the Golden Jubilee speech of the institute. West Bengal Governor Mr. M K Narayanan and West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee were his companions in the programme. He started his campus touring by planting a sapling. Then straight into the auditorium where guests, faculty, students and staffs were waiting to listen to him.
Nothing ‘unpredictable’ happened in this campus unlike IIT Kharagpur where he went later for the Convocation and students protested before him in support of Anna Hazare and his demands for Jan Lokpal Bill. IIMC was a fort with police and security personnel were busy maintaining the PM’s security!
As expected, the Lokpal Bill controversy has taken a backseat amongst this august audience. He brought the reference of Corruption under governance failure issue, where he touched upon the danger of inefficiency and Cronyism if ‘aam aadmi’ is forced to pay bribes to government agencies. He brought back the memory of Licence Raj and wide spread corruption related to that. Abolition of the same has helped in curbing the unfair practices.
But the name which he carefully avoided is Anna Hazare, the man who has shaken the conscience of the nation. His campaigns, not even for a fraction of seconds found any direct mention in the speech. Rather he welcomed debate on Lokpal Bill inside the Parliament! And those who have (read Anna Hazare) different views must send their representatives to the House to discuss. The underneath message was that Ramlila Maidan is not a suitable place for this. Black money, pending reforms of judiciary all were present when he was telling ‘government is open to discussion for Lokpal Bill, which is now with the Standing Committee.’
He was never an orator, rather he always reads out the rehearsed scripts with his scholarly approach. This time too, there was no exception. Shades of Economist Manmohan Singh came out over and again in his speech. He took silent pride in the fact that twenty years back he advocated and brought in Macro Economic Reforms which is till date yielding ‘great results’ in market economy. That time a controversial step actually had shown India a positive side of growth path by widening the way for more capital investments in form of Foreign Direct Investment, Merger & Acquisition etc.
PM rightly made the audience think the positive side of Japan, Korea and Chinese successes of economic prosperity. As this is an ‘Asian Century’ so this is a high time to think beyond Dollars and Euros, but never write them off. He is confident that India will achieve the objective of sustainable inclusive growth at the 9% rate, though in this year it is a bit slow!
But the real show stealer is Mamata. At her original and spontaneous best she said, “IIMC is first national institute of Bengal (sic)! IIMC was founded on 14th November, 1961. This is not only an asset but foundation of India. Tomorrow is in your hand for its students and research programmes.” This is not a big mistake on CM’s part that Kolkata is proud of Calcutta University (1857) and Jadavpur University (1905) which she has forgotten to mention. In her style, which is known as ‘didism’ she gave back the shawl to a student which was presented to CM as a memento! Clapping continued till the end!
Again to the PM. What was his message to the students, he requested all the future managers to maintain transparency in decision making. He focused on the fact that for IIMC only Kolkata is on the global management map! He fondly recalled the achievements of IIMC alumnus Indra Nooyi in business circuit and Malli Mastan Babu in mountaineering! They would inspire and encourage the future managers what he strongly believes.
Mamata on stage and nothing political about it, how could that be? Dr. Singh emphasized on the fact the ‘lost glory of Kolkata must be reclaimed’ as change of regime has taken place recently. He said that, there were times when Kolkata was known for its creativity and a thriving learning centre. Time has come to rejuvenate West Bengal polity, economy and human endeavours!!
But what was completely remained untouched that how could policy reforms initiate the change in social reforms and when reforms would be seen from a multi dimensional angle, rather than treating it as an economic & financial explanation! Why the government is so busy with 9% growth rate when 40% of the population doesn’t get full square mill every day? I believe too much focus on reforms actually widened the gulf between rich and poor. If poverty is not eradicated, how could India become the numero uno contributor for Asian Century?
The man who is known as ‘the honest’ person of Indian politics is unfortunately nicknamed as ‘Manmohan Singh Ghotala’, thanks to series of scans. Had he been more transparent on the Jan Lokpal Bill today, that might have given him certain edge, though this is what I personally believe.