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.


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Friday, October 13, 2006

Obeying Law - Key to Democracy

We Malayalis blame others for everything. We always tell and believe that politicians and the Government are to be blamed for all the ills of our state. If we have bad roads blame it on the Government. We never take time to think of who is responsible for the road to be like that. May be the landowner nearby did something which made the condition of road bad!

The road in front of my house always gets damaged during monsoon. The reason was that there was no drainage on the sides of the road and the water from the nearby houses flows into the road. The result is that after every monsoon the road gets damaged badly. The Government built a great drainage about 4 years back. But soon the people started dumping waste in the drainage. Come next monsoon and whole of the new drain was clogged with waste dumped by people. Again rainwater starts flowing through the road and people started blaming the Government for not tarring the road.

Now “chicguniya” has taken so many lives and the people are blaming the Government. The people forget to keep their neighborhood clean and blame the Government.

We Malayalis blame the Government for any and everything without first doing our duties as a citizen. Does any one of us can tell boldly that we obey the law? I don’t think anyone of us can say that we never disobeyed. See the list below. I am sure you have done at least 5 of these in your life till now.

  • Improperly dumping the waste causing difficulty to the passersby.
  • Taking your vehicle through a “one way” road in the opposite direction
  • Spitting on the road
  • Even worse, spitting from a moving bus
  • Not obeying traffic rules.
  • Smoking in public places.
  • Giving little or no respect to law enforcing agencies
  • Traveling without a ticket in a train/bus
  • Using “influence” to get something done.
  • Entering the railway station without taking a platform ticket.
  • Not allowing the elderly and handicapped people use the seats reserved for them in the buses.
  • Copying in the exams
  • When buying land, showing less worth for the land to avoid paying taxes to the Government.
  • Not reporting malfunctioning of the electric meter to the Government
  • Using tap water meant for drinking purposes for irrigation and other purposes.
  • Urinating in public places.
  • Purchasing from shops without bill so that you don’t have to pay the sales tax.
  • Not declaring all the articles you are carrying to avoid paying customs duty while going from abroad.
  • Traveling on the footboard of a bus.
  • Showing least respect and consideration for employees working under you.
  • Sticking posters in signboards and other places where you are not supposed to stick anything.
  • Parking vehicles at "No Parking" areas.

    List goes on and on. Readers, You are welcome to add more to this list.

There is a proverb in Malayalam. “aathiyam swayam nannavukka. Enittu baaki ullavare nannakukka”(First you be good; then try to make others good).

It is high time each malayali try obeys the law of the land. If that happens then there is no need to complain about the others, as they will also be obeying the law. I know it is easy to tell but its never going to happen. At least if I make 1 malayali realize that he/she is doing a lot of things knowingly or unknowingly which breaks the law I have succeeded with this post.


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