Saturday, 20 October 2012

Dr. Manmohan Singh: The Dark Knight..?

I was always a little confused why an honest and decent man like Dr. Manmohan Singh tied hands with Congress and agree to become their puppet. Maybe he got duped into it for the first term, but why did he agree to do it again?

Many people view him as an intelligent academician, but also as a man with a weak will and a poor leader. I cannot claim that this judgement is not justified. I have the same opinion myself. But lets consider another possible scenario.

What if Dr. Manmohan Singh is India's Dark Knight?

For people who are not Batman fans (weird as you guys are, I cannot afford to alienate you), let me explain the concept. Gotham city (fictional) is in chaos. Organised crime is at an all time high, and the police is as much involved as the mob-bosses. From within this chaos appear two men who have the courage to fight the status quo. Bruce Wayne, the billionaire play boy, and Harve Dent, the righteous District Attorney. Harvey Dent publicly and openly fights against crime and corruption through the lawful tools available to him, while the billionaire Bruce Wayne chooses a slightly distinct method: He becomes the Batman and directly intervenes in the criminal activities. As a vigilante, his actions are often misunderstood by the public and he is hated for it. But the Dark Knight bares the hatred to do what he knows is right. Some times, being hated is part of the job description.

Now imagine a man wanting to help change his country. He is smart and intelligent when it comes to knowing what decisions to make, but just does not have the political backing. He is frustrated because he doesn't have what it takes to be a politician or start his own party. But one fine day, he gets the seat offered to him on a platter, but with a catch; he has no real control.

The righteous Harvey Dent would have rejected such an offer. If he was going to do it, he would do it right. But the Dark Knight would see this as an opportunity. Maybe its better he gets it then someone worse. Maybe this would give him some room to bring those changes which he knows the country needs. But if nothing else, it would allow him to at least moderate the poor governance which would otherwise be carried out. So that man decides to make a gamble.

Now in the position of power he feels severely suffocated. He finds very little room to make the reforms he had in mind. Things are going smoothly. The country has a 8 to 9% growth rate. No one sees any need for reforms or changes. They like the status quo. 

So what does he do? He waits. He knows that the current path the country is taking will eventually lead to a point where the Government will become desperate. He knows that direction in which they are headed will lead to poor economic growth and a huge deficit. And when the situation becomes critical they will be desperate enough to give him a free reign. So he positions himself, brings the little changes he can, and he waits.

He does not betray them when corruption charges are being thrown at them because he has a bigger goal in mind. He thinks, even if he betray Congress now, maybe BJP would come into power, maybe even the 3rd front. Neither very exciting prospects. So he maintains a stoney silence and accepts the insults hurled at him both domestically and internationally. He continues to bid his time. 

Then things start to fall in place. Pranab Mukherjee, a heavy weight, is neutralised by being made  President. The PM brings back Chidambaram to the Ministry of Finance and gains some political backing for the reforms. UPA's own welfare policies create massive deficits and the economic growth forecasts continue to be downgraded. Things are looking grim. Corruption charges do not seem to end. The BJP has paralysed the Parliament. The pressure cooker is about to burst. All the public outrage is directed at the Congress.

Knowing that the time was ripe, the PM goes to Sonia Gandhi and offers the distressed Congress President solutions to her problems. Seeing some hope, she promises him full political backing. The PM is finally the stallion he was supposed to be.

He now has several projects in the pipelines. He wants to do as much as possible before 2014, when he must give up his seat. He will finally get to do something right.

This story may seem too far fetched to be true. I am not sure I believe it myself. I have no evidence to prove it. But then again, no one has evidence to back up any other version of the story either. All I am saying is maybe, just maybe, Dr. Manmohan Singh is the hero that India deserved, but did not need at that point (when growth was good). And so we hated him because he could take it. Because he was not meant to be a hero - he was meant to be a silent guardian, a watchful protector... A Dark Knight. (modified version of a line stolen from Batman: The Dark Knight)


  1. So how did this "free reign" turn out? Deficit soars while the government (or Mr. Dark Knight) decides to splurge on yet another ill-timed scheme- Direct Cash Transfer. You have painted a very rosy picture of our Dear PM but one that ends up looking like a sorry justification of his shallow decision making and leadership abilities.

    Enjoy the Kool-Aid in the meantime...

    1. I cannot argue against this coming across as a 'sorry justification', but I feel like you are being overly critical about the direct cash transfers. Yes, the timing isn't best and yes they are hurrying it along too much. Most probably there will be lots of bugs and it will be a mess to begin with. But the initiative it self is a great move. In the medium run it will be great for the country.

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