Fifth Column: All the PM’s pundits

So utterly forgotten are the doomsday predictions that many of these pundits have now started to behave as if they were members of the new PM’s team.

Written by Tavleen Singh | Updated: June 8, 2014 12:22 am
If India is to truly see development and change, it has to begin with giving ordinary people half a chance to participate in both development and change. (Source: PTI) If India is to truly see development and change, it has to begin with giving ordinary people half a chance to participate in both development and change. (Source: PTI)

A most strange and peculiar change has occurred since Narendra Modi became India’s Prime Minister. Political pundits who till yesterday were warning of doomsday and the end of the ancient tradition of pluralism in our ancient land now appear to believe that Mr Modi has magical powers to transform India. As if the economy will suddenly start booming, foreign investors will come flooding back and roads, ports and other infrastructure will come up overnight.

So utterly forgotten are the doomsday predictions that many of these pundits have now started to behave as if they were members of the new PM’s team. With the confidence that comes from long years of punditry, they produce wish lists daily in the newspapers and pop up on our TV screens to proffer advice on how the economy can be revived and how the PM can prove that his vision for India is inclusive by speaking up for Muslims every chance he gets.

Tch, tch, tch, they said often last week, he should have spoken up when the young Muslim computer engineer was killed in that random attack by Hindu thugs in Pune.

This would have shown that he cared about Muslims as much as he does for Hindus. If the PM believes he needs to win his secular spurs, I am sure he will find a way to win them, but since gratuitous advice from political pundits seems to be in fashion, why should I be left behind? So for my part I think he could have demanded from Maharashtra’s Congress Chief Minister an explanation for why said Hindu thugs were allowed to wander about Pune in mobs bearing hockey sticks and screaming for Muslim blood. Where were the guardians of law and order?

If the PM chose not to ask questions, it was perhaps because he knows how the police works, or does not work, or perhaps because he thinks it is pointless for him to start his term in office by bullying opposition governments. He needs the chief ministers to work with him to bring about the change and development he has promised and probably does not want to antagonise them by interfering every time some horrible crime is committed. There have been so many horrible crimes in the past few days that he would be able to do nothing else.

Besides, he has been very, very busy ever since he came to Delhi. So far, he has spent time getting his team together and impressing upon them how serious he is about trying to improve standards of governance. He has met senior bureaucrats separately and assured them that if they did the right thing he would always be on their side.

He has ordered his ministers to come up with a programme of action for their first hundred days in office and turned his attention to the repeal of ancient, stupidly obstructive laws. That is good going for a prime minister who has been in office for just two weeks.

He does not appear to be in need of advice, but since every other political pundit is coming forward with some, why should I not present my own little wish list? Please Prime Minister can we have drastic changes in policies related to education, healthcare and sanitation? The mess left behind by Sonia Gandhi’s vaunted ‘rights-based approach’ to these vital public services is beyond belief. In education the ‘right’ to it gave officials the chance to impose an even stricter licence quota raj than there was before.

Officials concentrated their attentions on private schools, so instead of government schools improving, what they succeeded in doing was making life harder for private schools by insisting on quotas for children from ‘economically weak’ families. Higher education that comes directly under the Central government has shown no improvement either. The result is an educational crisis so grim that in annual PISA (Programme of International Students Assessment) tests, Indian children have regularly come second last.

Healthcare is technically a subject for state governments, but what is to stop the Central government from launching a massive television campaign on public hygiene?

More than 80 per cent of diseases in India come from dirty water and dirty living conditions, so why should this not be something that the Central government tries to improve at the highest levels? After the horror of what happened in Badaun we need no further proof that a massive sanitation drive in rural India is needed most urgently. Toilets before temples in the Prime Minister’s own words.

If India is to truly see development and change, it has to begin with giving ordinary people half a chance to participate in both development and change. This can only happen if the human development index is given as much attention as GDP growth. Right, Prime Minister?

Follow Tavleen Singh on Twitter @ tavleens

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First Published on: June 8, 2014 12:21 am
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    BigB
    Jun 9, 2014 at 1:50 am
    And what pattern are you looking for? A mive storm hit Odisha and AP and our great PM didn't say anything for 3 days. And you guys are looking for NaMo to speak for every rape and murder in India.
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      BigB
      Jun 9, 2014 at 2:07 am
      Bhago, Bhoot Aya theory of the so called Pundits was due to vested interests. But Modi took it to the people directly rather than depending on Media to further his cause. One more funny thing media did was covering Priyanka with deliberate close up shots, when it was obvious not more than 30/ 40 people were her audience, many of them perhaps media persons.
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        BigB
        Jun 9, 2014 at 1:54 am
        Problem is not that they are praising Modi now. Problem is they were calling him every bad names, all the way upto Hitler, before. In hind sight, that was definitely not called for. Pundits are supposed to know better and not be biased. That's what Talveen is pointing out.
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          BigB
          Jun 9, 2014 at 2:02 am
          When Sonia gives it to you in 60 years, rather doesn't give it to you, you are ok. But you want problems solved in hours when it's Modi. Why don't you ask Krazy about the power shortage. He has initiated audits so that power cuts won't happen. I am sure you were smiling when he did that. Isn't that the root cause of the problem?
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            alok
            Jun 8, 2014 at 1:43 am
            Making TRP for channels is not his job. Making his ministers shut up n do their job is what he is advicing. Losers like Mani continue to b acerbic but he knows governance better than any so let's also shut up n listen to his silence.
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              Abhijit Bhattacharya
              Jun 8, 2014 at 4:23 am
              You are barking up the wrong tree, Ms Singh. Modi's performance in the education and health sectors in Gujarat was far from being exemplary...with an undergrad's appointment as the HRD minister (who even submitted conflicting statements about her qualification and still got away with that) , Modi has already made his statement regarding his concerns about education
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                adal singh
                Jun 8, 2014 at 6:01 am
                To write some thing about concurrent political & social events is job of column writers.Row the boat in wind,s direction is common wisdom, so it is futile to blame so calledPolitical pundits for their writings. Now when the people have elected Modi to holdPM,s chair & no sky has fallen, they have changed their tone. (As an example pleaseremember the emergency time.)Now it is duty of political pundits & madam TavleenSingh to advance their wise advice to PM in national interest.
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                  ajay dewan
                  Jun 8, 2014 at 1:42 am
                  Talveen, one can expect as much one wants from governments but where as citizens of the country is our own sensibility. Are you telling me that we the people of India cannot even build our own toilets or look after our own daily requirements? Governments are only facilitators but eventually we the people of India must take up our own responsibilities for any real change to be. True change is from down up and not the other way round.
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                    Rudram
                    Jun 9, 2014 at 1:24 am
                    Good points; Mr Modi has made a good start by appointing good and small cabinet. Now he has to deliver on three fronts - peace with neighbors on terms India likes, economic development to create good jobs particularly for low income strata and strong infrastructure program to increase power, connectivity and transportation systems. None of these are short term initiatives so lets give him some time ....Congress did not do enough though they ruled for decades. At the very least we have thrown out one set of rascals ....
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                      Anirudha PalSingh
                      Jun 8, 2014 at 1:10 pm
                      After such a long time 1 gud article otherwise I think all other so called pundits are biased towards Mr Prime Minister
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                        Girish
                        Jun 8, 2014 at 1:41 pm
                        Your first paragraph exposes some of the chameleon in our society. Loved it.
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                          Ashim Dutta
                          Jun 8, 2014 at 4:16 am
                          It's all about development and showing results. Modi has been trying to do that. Self proclaimed political/economic pundits can no longer earn their livelihood by selling stone-age wisdom.
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                            NASAH (USA)
                            Jun 8, 2014 at 6:05 pm
                            Now that your candidate has won the prime ministership as a miracle-man and his time for delivering on the promises -- of CHANGE from one-man top to down -- has come -- you advise people to build their own toilets and purchase their own generators for 24 hours electricity?Interesting cop out!
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                              Chandrashekhar Betawadkar
                              Jun 8, 2014 at 5:32 am
                              These so called pundits have another task in hand. After failing to spread hatred among communities by creating MODI DEMON, now they are busy in pushing expectations of public so high that some how Modi should fail in achiving and at next elections they will again get chance to say 'Remember we said so'.
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                                Subhash Bennur
                                Jun 8, 2014 at 3:36 am
                                Brilliant antidote to Political pundits & congressmen like Mani now a tea seller at Madurai rly station, SP/BSP wallahs, JD(U) wallahs, NCP, Tofeewallah pappu Rahul Bhaiyaan, Neech raj neeti naam lene walli Priyanka, Shouting brigade of Mamatha Didi who till yesterday were warning of doomsday and the end of the ancient tradition of pluralism in our ancient land. Tavleenji, Next time when you travel at Madurai don`t forget to patronize Chai aur Idli vendor Mani Shanker Iyer!
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                                  Gauri
                                  Jun 8, 2014 at 5:38 pm
                                  Bal Thackeray is Shiv Sena leader. RSS has nothing to do with Shiv Sena, nor with the goons who killed the engineer. VHP, Bajrang dal are different from RSS. RSS is a peaceful constructively working organization. Rest of your comment, I agree.
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                                    sanjeev bhaskar
                                    Jun 8, 2014 at 10:57 am
                                    Very well written. And i think media also have joined his team.
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                                      Prashant
                                      Jun 8, 2014 at 1:32 am
                                      I feel the same thing Mam. No abusing word is enough for these s.People, in this election, clearly told these s that your knowledge is piece of that belongs to garbage. Your daily barking in TV and writing in print media has zero, I repeat, zero value for common people. Yet these s have courage and audacity to again come to front and start messing with Modi.I don't when they will get this simple point : No one gives a about your fake appreciation and fake concern. No one gives a when you demand any answer from Govt because for simple reason, what the were you guys doing when Italian looted w country and when PM hardly spoke. Above all No one gives a when you talk about secularism, seriously stop barking on secularism, just stop.
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                                        Prashant
                                        Jun 8, 2014 at 1:40 am
                                        I feel the same thing Mam. No abusing word is enough for these news traders and pseudo intellectuals.People, in this election, clearly told these s that your knowledge is piece of sht that belongs to garbage. Your daily barkng in TV and writing sht in print media has zero, I repeat, zero value for common people. Yet these bastrds have courage and audacity to again come to front and start messing with Modi.I don't when they will get this simple point : No one gives a fck about your fake appreciation and fake concern. No one gives a fck when you demand any answer from Govt because for simple reason, what the fck were you guys doing when Italian looted w country and when PM hardly spoke. Above all No one gives a fck when you talk about secularism, seriously stop barking on secularism, just stop.
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                                          deepak
                                          Jun 8, 2014 at 7:29 am
                                          thanks madam, for showing the hypocrisy of these news traders.
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                                            Ghantaghar
                                            Jun 9, 2014 at 4:35 am
                                            Brilliant analysis and positive suggestions as usual from Tavleen Singh
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