Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Mr. Inefficient – India’s New Defence Minister


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Mr. A.K Antony, former Chief Minister of Kerala has been sworn in as India’s new Defence Minister. No one has any doubt about his clean public image. But is clean public image alone is sufficient for a good administrator/leader? Does our new Defence Minister possess leadership qualities? Is he an efficient administrator?


According to me answer to all the three questions is a big “NO”. He was the Chief Minister of Kerala for 4 years from 2001-05. Did he do anything worthwhile for the state other than keeping his image intact? How much more Omman Chandy Government could do in 1 year compared to Antony Government?


Antony is known as a man of indecision in administrative circles. He will sit over an issue for days with out taking any decision. If the press folks ask him about any sensitive issue his prompt reply used to be “I am studying the issue” or “I don’t want to comment”. Is this what an able administrator would do?


Antony is a leader who is ready to sacrifice anything and everything for his image. If he has any leadership qualities he should have stood behind the 3 officials implicated by the Maradu Enquiry Commission. He was the Chief Minister/Home Minister when riots in Maradu happened and he used these 3 officials to implement the decisions of the Government. So if the Maradu Commission is blaming the 3 officials then it is the responsibility of Mr A K Antony to defend them. He won’t defend them. Why? Simple- His self-made image will go off if he identifies with those tainted officials. Is this leadership?


Now if we take Maradu Commission for face value and believe these 3 officials did some thing wrong, wasn’t it the responsibility of then Home Minister to understand that and take action. In that case why didn’t he take action? His great ability to make”indecision” may have come in his way to make a decision in this regard. Is this what is meant by administrative skill?


I always believe an “able” and “efficient” leader should be in the battlefield till the end whatever the outcome of the battle is. But take the case of Antony. He had a mandate to rule Kerala for 5 years in 2001. In four years, when Antony was at the helm, the image of the party/government hit rock bottom. What will an able administrator do, correct the mess he himself created, try to correct the mess he created in the next 1 year and make party stronger. What did this “holy saint” do? RESIGN. Is this a leadership quality?


If you observe closely Antony’s political career, one can observe that he has used resignations to climb the political ladder. His first resignation as Kerala Chief Minister in 1977 for no reason gave him the public image as “honest and principled politician”. His resignation as Union Civil Supplies Minister in 1995 brought him into good books of then Prime Minister Narasimha Rao who rewarded him with Kerala Chief Minister in 1995. His resignation in 2005 boosted his image in front of Sonia Gandhi, Congress President who gave him the prestigious Defence portfolio.


Now imagine Mr. Antony as India’s Defence Minister and a scenario as follows. Indian Military wants to place order for the latest weapons. The file for approval comes in front of Antony for approval. He is clever enough to know that almost all Defence deals will have a middleman. So if he approves it there is a chance that some kind of allegation will come up in the future. So what will he do? Just extend his record of “indecision” to Defence Ministry and do nothing about it. Net result of all that – Indian Military looses its edge.


I always used to believe - people like Antony should be there in politics. It is for people like him creators of constitutions have made posts like Governor and President of India. Seeing the way Kofi Annan performs as UN Secretary General, I always feel Antony could fit into that role also.


SAINT ANTONY”- ATLEAST DO SOMETHING GOOD FOR THE PEOPLE NOW RATHER THAN BUILDING YOUR OWN IMAGE

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31 Comments:

Blogger rob@blogoftheday.org said...

Great blog! I've added a link to your blog on Blog of the Day under the category of World. To view the feature of your blog, please visit http://blogoftheday.org/page/112678

October 25, 2006 3:34 AM  
Blogger Vinod/Kakka said...

If some country bombs India, our new minister for Defense will hand over the unexploded bombs back and say "Please Bomb us Again".
What next? Narendra Modi as chairman of the Minorities commission?

October 25, 2006 3:34 AM  
Blogger Brijesh said...

@rob@blogoftheday.org
Thanks for adding my blog.

@vinod/kakka
ROTFL- Not only the unexploded bombs, but as a good will gesture he will give some bombs from India so that next time they bomb us they have sufficient bombs.

October 25, 2006 4:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Njan karuthiyatha .arengillum ithu vishayam akkum ennu..Antony is the BEST defense minister the country can get.. no kidding.. he will defensive for his entire term like no one..nobody so skilled at the art of self defense ;-)
But I admire his personal honesty..but he has a lot of hypocrisy in shutting eyes to his ministers stealing...and also in maintiaing his image in the public eye.! relavent blog Brijesh
~Prasanth

October 25, 2006 4:37 AM  
Anonymous RATHI said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

October 25, 2006 4:53 AM  
Anonymous RATHI said...

A very bold opinion, inspiring a thought that the Cabinet should be voted by the people and not appointed by the High Command.Good keep inspiring .

October 25, 2006 4:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The ministry of defense handles biggest budget and Mr.Antoy is given this portfolio to clean the mess that was created by his efficient predecessors. Recently the department is buried under scandals with latest one being a CBI investigation against Mr.Fernades about the purchase of missile systems.

"Just extend his record of “indecision” to Defence Ministry and do nothing about it. Net result of all that – Indian Military looses its edge."
No major decisions have been taken in this ministry after the bofors scandal. Air force has asked for new fighters and helicopters two years ago. Army has been trying to get tanks for quite a while. The Indian military has lost its edge on many fronts. I think people are afraid to take decisions because they are afraid of their own track record and the last thing that we need is a corrupt politician at the top.

Antony is among a handful of politicians who can claim a spotless image after working for more than 40 years which is quite rare in Indian politics. A species facing extinction and I think he is given this responsibility with a mission to clean up.
Anil

October 25, 2006 5:48 AM  
Blogger Brijesh said...

@prashant
He knows how to defend himself and come out keeping his image intact.In that way he will be a good "defence" minister

@Rathi aunty,
Thanks. It is the people who have voted him to power all these times. He is so clever enough to hide his leadership failures using his public image. so people from North India feels that he is an extinct species in Indian politics.

Antony doesn’t want to ruin his public image and so he won’t allow any defense deal to happen. Fernandes have the courage to go ahead with the deal and hence the allegation. If Antony is in his place he wont take a decision to purchase any missile.

“Mr.Antoy is given this portfolio to clean the mess that was created by his efficient predecessors.”

Anil, please tell me what all mess he cleaned up in Kerala? Rather he made so many mess and left power.

Yes agreed he has spotless image. But he thinks about image before anything. There lies the problem. Former Chief Minister of Kerala Omman Chandy also have a spotless image but he is an able administrator. He takes some decision and sticks by it. That was the point I am making. If as a leader you make a decision you have to stick by it and protect those who implement it.

October 25, 2006 6:43 AM  
Blogger കേരളഫാർമർ/keralafarmer said...

ഡിഫന്‍സ്‌ മിനിസ്റ്റര്‍ അല്പം നട്ടെല്ലുള്ളവനായാല്‍ എല്ലാ പ്രശ്നങ്ങള്‍ക്കും പരിഹാരമാകും. കട്ടു ശീലിച്ചവരാണ് കൂടെയുള്ളത്‌ എന്ന ചിന്തയാവും അദ്ദേഹത്തേ ഏറ്റവും കൂടുതല്‍ അലട്ടുക. അനാവശ്യമായ ഡിഫന്‍‍സ്‌ ചെലവുകള്‍ ഒരു പാഴാക്കല്‍ തന്നെയാണ്. 89,000 കോടിയില്‍ നല്ലൊരു പങ്കും മിച്ചമാകുന്നത്‌ നല്ലതുതന്നെ. ആന്റണിയുടെ നേതൃത്വത്തില്‍ ലോക യുദ്ധോപകരണങ്ങളുടെ നിര്‍മാണവും വിപണനവും കുറയട്ടെ. നമുക്ക്‌ സമാധാനവും ശാന്തിയും പ്രതീക്ഷിക്കാം. ഹിരോഷിമയും നാഗസാക്കിയും നമുക്ക്‌ വേണോ?

October 25, 2006 6:45 AM  
Blogger silverine said...

@brijesh:I do not know much about Antony, but today in office the reaction to the news was severe. People were saying that we should hang our heads in shame at Antony and Ambarish's elevation. Now I know why...after reading your blog :) You have very clearly explained your reasons for calling him inept.

@Vinod: ROFL

October 25, 2006 5:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good article....

I think what that ministry needs now is somebody who does not take any decisions at all.

-SG

October 25, 2006 6:01 PM  
Blogger Brijesh said...

@Kerala Farmer- That is the problem with Antony. He dont have a "back bone". his back bone is not made of bone but with clean public image.

If India cuts down on defence spending and neighbours increase it did you ever thought of the consequences?

@silverine- never you can see a politician who uses resignation as a tool to climb political career. Also it is strange that people are not able to understand his lack of adminstrative skills.

@SG
A minster to just look after the day to day affair of the ministry and for not taking any important decision. That is what I am sure we are going to see.

October 25, 2006 9:03 PM  
Blogger Jiby said...

the sad part is someone like S.M.Krishna is wasted as the governor of some state though he would have made a better defence minister than antony and would have been better suited for this position but he found noone willing to push his case in delhi. antony would have been better suited for some other cabinet position...but assigning him defence beats all reasoning...i can already imagine him standing on a minefield of corruption not daring to move even an inch for fear of his image taking a beating...or will he do better this time?

October 25, 2006 9:05 PM  
Blogger Brijesh said...

Jiby- exactly. People like S.M Krishna will be better fit than Antony. Antony should have got portfolios like Water Resources, Science and Technology etc which was apt for his personality.

October 26, 2006 2:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even though he doesn't deserve, let us give him another chance.

October 26, 2006 11:47 AM  
Blogger Brijesh said...

@anon- Yes let us wait and see

October 27, 2006 5:30 AM  
Anonymous Hiren said...

One has to be both clean and efficient but that's a rare combination. In management, leadership is all about first identiying what you are good at or passionate about-Make your passion your profession. Wonder how muc it applies to politics.

October 27, 2006 9:02 AM  
Blogger Vandana Ahuja said...

Nice post.Inneficiency of a leader takes the whole team down....similar rules apply to both, the politics as well as corporate world...Check out my post on
Leaderofailia
Kind of echoes what you are saying...

October 28, 2006 6:02 AM  
Blogger .::[ Mani Karthik ]::. said...

i think its not a good perspective to see it this way - tagging him inefficient cos its not fair - he havent got a chance in this position. a curious watch wud give the result. over some time may be.

October 28, 2006 3:33 PM  
Blogger kochuthresiamma p .j said...

while i agree with the factual details of your blog, i dont agree with your take that he is obsessed with his image.what we see in antony is the struggle of an honest politician to survive and deliver in the cesspool that is indian politics now.
come on, let' give the devil his due. i was quite shocked at the vitriolc response to your blog on antony.the trouble with him is
1. he loves his country
2. he is honest
3. doesn't have the political chicanery of say, a person like VP singh
4. desnt have political street smartness

i admired him for his statement on the minorities, which caused quite a hue and cry in kerala. he was'nt trying to appease the majority as alleged. he said what he believed. in politics, when you say or do what u believe in without the capacity to sell your convictions to the masses(like Indira gandhi ), the witcch hunt begins.

u must admit that antony did exceedingly well when he took over as the CM in 2001-it takes a lot of courage to introduce the service reforms which would have made the state employees more accountable. the people were with him. remeber how citizens opened locked schools a nd started conducting classes to break union strength.antony meant business. that the whole thing boomeranged on him is a reflection of how a few politicians with their unions rule the roost in kerala.antony's pary let him down then. if the party stood by him and his candidate won the kochi election(where the marxist candidate sebastian won with karunakaran's support), we would have seen a different antony today - cos the peolpe were with him.

i am not giving him up. keeping my fingers crossed.

i find , we indians have become such cynics that a corrupt perfromer is preferred to a clean statesman. unless we change and offer the unrelenting support to a person like antony, our poilitical arena will never be rid of corruption.

you would have noticed that my blog on this issue ends on an optimistic note.

October 29, 2006 2:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do something useful and different Brijesh.. Anyone can sit at one corner and post comments and others lik me can just sit an comment.. Its too easy to do and so many people do that.. Follow your passion to become a politician.. Make a difference!!!!

A4

October 29, 2006 6:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Errata
------
Please read my previous comment as
"Anyone can sit at one corner and post blogs and others like me can just sit an comment.. Its too easy to do and therefore so many people do that.. "

A4

October 29, 2006 6:44 PM  
Blogger Brijesh said...

@Hiren
Yes, being clean and efficient is a rare combination. In politics it is more correct. No one has any doubt that Antony is Mr Clean in Indian politics. But is he efficient? He was not as Kerala CM. So let us watch and see.

@Vandana Ahuja- Of late skill set required for both corporate world and the politics are narrowing down. You need to be efficient to be successful in both areas.

@M- I tagged him as inefficient based on his past performance as an administrator. An administrator has to be bold and should be able to take tough decisions but I am not sure if Antony can ever do that.

@kochuthresiamma p .j
I do notice that in your blog you end in an optimistic note. I wrote mine after observing him as CM of Kerala. One thing I noticed in him is his long delay in taking decision. As a Defence Minister it may not be good instinct at all. Also what I am criticizing about him is eagerness to resign with the slightest provocation. He was also responsible for all the mess that happened in Congress party. He should have remained as CM and try to clean the mess for which he was also responsible. That is what I was telling in that post. I never doubted his image but only his inability to make decisions.

October 29, 2006 11:19 PM  
Blogger Babin said...

Brijesh, couldn't agree with you more.. AKA is right on the top of my list of most 'verukkapetta' politicians. The guy ruined the golden chance UDF/kerala had to bring about a lot of changes in the state.. Why did he wait till the 4th year to resign from chief ministership????? he should have done it earlier like after first month in the office or something..So OC could have got more time..

Anyway, I wonder why PM agreed to make him the defense manthri considering his personality. He was probaly hoping Antony will listen to fellow malyalee bureaucrats like NSA, PM's Principal secretary, Foreign secretary, RAW chief,etc. They are all good smart people. Hopefully, he won't be 'played' by anyone else...

October 31, 2006 3:23 AM  
Blogger Brijesh said...

Baibin,
I also feel the same- he wasted 4 years of mandate doing nothing. let us pray he does well as India's Defence Minister.

November 01, 2006 7:12 AM  
Blogger anto said...

mittatte mullakka manamilla

November 04, 2006 5:40 AM  
Anonymous Vivek Nair said...

I agree with Brijesh and some other comments here that Anthony did not display leadership qualities or quick decision making abilities during his tenure in Kerala. But on the other hand he was clean and goes to any lengths to maintain a clean image in politics. Maybe Anthony is not street smart in politics, but he is a rare species - an honest politician - but not an able administrator. So to the question of should he be given such an important portfolio - NEVER! Honest politicians should have highly visible jobs in a political party so that the image of the pary is good among the "masses"! But the party also should have a quick decision maker, an able administrator and a great statesman for jobs like the Defence Minister / Foreign Minister. It is not just a clean image but these above other qualties which will build the image of the party / India in the eyes of the world at such positions.

November 12, 2006 4:15 PM  
Blogger Brijesh said...

Anto- nammukku kathirunnu kanam muttathe mulla maram pokumoo ennu
Vivek- You summed up what I have to say

November 14, 2006 11:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Antony can perform in Centre because because of following reasons
01) Red Flag is only in railway Station
02) People like Achunandanan perverted mind) not there
03) Karunakaran is a dead horse

November 24, 2006 1:38 PM  
Blogger Brijesh said...

Anon@ 5.38 AM,
Let us wait and see

December 04, 2006 4:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this blog really surprises me.
do you still remember the last 4 years of Nayanar govt, no job no money full of correption. in 4 years how much the state progressed. "Mundu murukkiyuduthu thanne" his department rated as the best in India. Dont go by what news papers say, they have their own leaders to support and aims to achieve. go by facts and statistics..

September 03, 2007 7:29 AM  

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