When cure is worse than disease and physician becomes difficult to endure
By Pushpesh Pant | Published: 08th September 2013 12:00 AM |
Remember the nursery rhyme about Puss in Boots? Well, before the kitten could convince himself or anyone else that it was indeed a tiger cub and tried to roar, it turned out that the boots were to be too big for him and he stumbled repeatedly before the inevitable fall. Now spectators are waiting for the pretender to be literally given the boot. This wasn’t the way this was meant to end. But life is stranger than fiction and not all fairytales or rhymes have a blissful happy ending. In any case, this canny cat is ensuring that no one lives happily ever after. Inspired by an infamous French Queen, he chants without moving his lips as is his wont—Apre mois le deluge.
He was supposed to be a man of great personal integrity, one whose words carried weight; his worst critics thought he was a good man fallen in bad company—an eminent scholar with promise of statesmanship, totally innocent of dirty politics. Now not even the most gifted mythologists can restore the aura. Reputation for domain expertise lies tattered, but what is most painful is there are not many who trust what he asserts. The poor man has been reduced to suicidal self-praise—“I enjoy a certain confidence in the council of ministers and I am respected in G-20” and so on. His minions, rejoicing in the miracle that he has at last found his lost tongue, try to drown all criticism in an incoherent chorus. The man who hasn’t really been the epitome of copybook PM and an impressive parliamentarian by a long shot is emboldened to lecture others on how to behave as MPs. One is reminded, ‘the battle is not to the strong, nor the race to the swift’. But must we wring our hands in despair and merely lament that what can we do when blind chance governs the destinies of men as well as nations?
Indians worried about the state of the nation with the Congress-led UPA at the helm are beginning to realise that the PM’s reputation was the result of exceptionally talented mythmakers. What else explains his outburst, “I am not the custodian of files.” Remember that this is the same individual who had promised not to leave any stone unturned to get to the bottom of the Coalgate mess. So much about personal integrity; as far as the joint responsibility of the Cabinet is concerned, that concept has long ago been buried deep and forgotten. Now, ruefully they realise that the professor has taught the nation two expensive lessons. First, that an internationally renowned economist’s expertise lies primarily in being habitually economical with truth and second, that the doctoral prefix before a politician’s name can only guarantee that he/she can, at the drop of a hat, ‘doctor’ democratic institutions. His treatment of the economy has put to shame all the quacks preceding. The cure has been worse than the disease and the physician who has failed to heal himself is becoming increasingly difficult to endure.
Decades ago, after the Bofor’s gun fiasco, the Big B had boomed (or sent up a heart-rending howl) to express the ‘anguish of an angry young man’. This was one performance that had failed to mesmerise even the diehard fans. Oblivious of all this, the PM decided to make a much-belated debut as an angry old man. It’s not surprising that even the best amplifiers and spin-doctors couldn’t transform the ambitious whimper into a damp bang.
Another session of our Parliament has been laid waste due to repeated interruptions and representatives of the people plumbing new depths. “In no other country of the world…” begins Dr Manmohan Singh as he gives vent to his long suppressed frustration, little realising that his fellow countrymen are no longer willing to play the game of ‘read my motionless lips’. Team Manmohan can no longer be accused of suffering from policy paralysis; it now displays classic symptoms of epileptic fits. Jerks that threaten to fracture limbs are apparently triggered by abnormal electrical activity in grief-stricken neural networks. Short circuits blowing fuses aren’t much better than a comatose state.
In the meantime, life goes on as usual. Godmen and their ungodly followers behave as if they are a law unto themselves. Governments treat them with kid gloves, making a mockery of the rule of law. Media and judiciary are routinely targeted as villains. CBI plods on—plagued by severe multiple personality disorder, ‘who am I? A caged parrot, pink panther or the elephant in the room?’
There is confusion galore and travails of daily life are many. Quick-fixes have time and again yielded unintended results. Purchase price parity between onions and petrol has forced lesser economists to hurriedly rewrite their textbooks. But who cares?