The Illegitimate Messiah Syndrome

Many Pakistanis are still not prepared to develop the patience required to see democracy through its early, evolutionary stages – especially difficult stages as a result of the violence done to it by military dictatorship after military dictatorship. They still look for and believe in personalities, not for a sustainable and equitable system. Many will tell you that the only cause for all of Pakistan’s woes is “humain aaj tak koi ddhang ka  leader nahin mila (we never found a decent leader)”. The observation is correct. But the way we have gone about finding a decent leader has been completely wrong.

A number of Pakistani and even Indian readers may not agree with parts of Steve Coll’s relatively short write-up below. But that is not hugely relevant to the main reason it is being reproduced here. The point that it is meant to highlight is that countries do not necessarily need larger than life heroes to lead them out of trouble. Equally importantly, democracy does not necessarily and need not produce such a perfect specimen. Dull, dreary but adequate will do. The system, if strong, will take care of the rest. Statecraft is not really a one-man job. Democracy is the least bad way of ensuring that, more often than not, the whole might just be greater than the sum of its parts.

Manmohan Singh

By Steve Coll    The New Yorker, November 24, 2009

The Indian Prime Minister, who appeared at a joint press conference with President Obama today and who will be fêted at Obama’s first state dinner tonight, is not likely to leave much of an impression on the American public. A few may take passing note of his preference for powder-blue turbans. Otherwise, this Sikh economist and Congress Party technocrat with a sonorous but self-effacing voice normally conducts himself in a way designed not to attract too much attention. Politically, he has been the product of a democratic system in India—and particularly, its ungainly Congress coalitions—that tends to reward consensus builders. Then, too, a democracy as pluralistic and relatively crisis-free as India’s is not the sort of system that will produce outsized leaders, for good or ill—a quality that reflects India’s political and constitutional health.

Singh’s low profile is misleading in important respects, however. His counterparts in the rising Hindu-nationalist movement have made more noise and been more proactive in reshaping post-Cold War Indian politics, but Singh has outlasted them all and will be remembered as a seminal figure of India’s transition from socialism and Soviet-leaning nonalignment to managed capitalism and rising power status. He has in many ways been an indispensable figure in India’s recent transitions. As finance minister during the late, sclerotic socialist period, he quietly helped steer the treasury through various close fiscal calls. He defied political convention and called for India to fight off its anti-colonial hangover, recognize the accumulating failure of its state-run economy, and embrace the opportunities of post-Cold War global trade. During the nineteen-nineties, when the Hindu nationalists rose to power, in large part because of their appeal to the country’s emerging urban business classes, Singh helped hold a fragmenting Congress leadership together, in service of Rajiv Gandhi’s Italian-born widow, Sonia, who embraced the Sikh economist as her political partner. When the Hindu nationalists finally ran out of steam, Singh steered Congress back into power, first in unwieldy alliance with leftist parties, and now, finally, in possession of a solid majority.

It was Singh, more than any individual in India, who was prepared to invest his political career in the pursuit of a transformational peace with Pakistan. It was Singh, after the Mumbai attacks, which came on the cusp of national elections, who had the courage to campaign for reëlection on a platform of steely restraint—and who was rewarded by Indian voters. His record may not stand with the great political figures of our age—Mandela, Gorbachev. In his own country’s history, he certainly does not rank with the Gandhis and Nehrus. Yet he is one of those neglected, careful, seemingly incorruptible, admirable figures that [united] India’s independence movement and democracy have managed to produce regularly.

 

The Pakistani Experience

Indians, Pakistanis and others come up with all sorts of differences between the two countries in order to explain their increasingly divergent trajectories along the road to stability and, lately, prosperity. To many Indians Pakistan is the country of religious zealots created by the treacherously communal Mohammed Ali Jinnah. To many others Jinnah was simply communal, and the question of treachery did not arise since, according to them, he played no part in India’s independence movement. Both these views have now been ably and successfully countered and discredited by a number of leading scholars.

Emphasis has been added to key parts of the last two lines of Mr Coll’s article to show two important aspects of India and Pakistan. The one about Jinnah, Nehru and Gandhi is the common aspect. However, in Pakistan soon after Jinnah died of natural causes at age 72, constitutionalism and rule of law were murdered in their infancy. What followed was a series of self-appointed messiahs with no legitimate right to rule.

The still-born democracy of Pakistan from the time of Liaquat Ali Khan’s assassination is ultimately the only critical difference between the two countries. Almost none of the other differences are as acute, of course always allowing for differences in size and demography. This is a brief investigation into the critical reason for the disproportionate disparity, not lack of equality. Otherwise both countries have had their share of poverty, even of violence. In India they call it communalism and it has tended to manifest itself in short and intense occasional outbursts of senseless violence. In Pakistan, on the other hand, we call it sectarianism and it has been an ongoing, low-intensity war.

It is this critical difference, of the presence of a more than rudimentary system of rule of law in India that allows some hope that the chief organisers and the occasional high-placed aiders and abetters of such violence might be brought to justice one day. At least there isn’t the case of a dictator like Musharraf arbitrarily letting Ahmed Tariq (founder of Sipah Sahaba) out of prison just so that Musharaf’s own man could be Prime Minister. The Indian judicial system may be inefficient, even incompetent, at places, but it is not without a large degree of freedom and credible levels of fairness. Most importantly, India’s democracy, with all its flaws, offers hope looking to the future.

Perhaps the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the legacies of that war have also been a burden not experienced by our eastern neighbour. But, again, it’s a burden made a thousand times worse by the dictatorship at that time.

In Pakistan, almost 60 years of arbitrary rule of one form or another, punctuated with short, abortive periods of controlled democracy, have never allowed an appreciation of either the reality of politics and of politicians in general, or of the importance and utility of a strong system over ‘great and good’ men of absolute power. A large number of people believe in discriminating between good and bad leaders and not necessarily between legitimate and illegitimate power. It seems that hardly any one is able to appreciate or prepared to accept that as long as there is rule of law and a reasonably robust system of checks and balances, even (suspected) crooks amongst politicians and leaders will do. There is not enough of a realisation that allowing the arbitrary power of a strongman to destroy the system in the irrational hope that he might turn out to be the long-awaited saviour is gambling of the most reckless kind. That it’s suicidal to the extent that it is tantamount to putting aside getting on with all the practical issues, responsibilities and requirements of life and betting on and waiting for a miracle to take care of things instead.

                 

Democracy, however, is a more complete system than just the law and is neither created overnight nor is it sustained without constant effort and vigilance. Even during the Lawyers’ Movement, while there was some realisation of both the importance and fundamentals of rule of law, a lot of the hype around it amounted to expecting miracles from the judicial system. There was little realisation that an independent judiciary is only one part of the rule of law structure that underpins the democratic system. It may be rather basic to know that the judiciary cannot do the executive’s job, nor that of an empowered Parliament. But what an education democracy is and how it teaches people what cannot be taught at schools or universities (or at adult education classes), is best understood by noticing its absence in societies which have not experienced much democracy.

Yet Pakistan has seen a bit more democracy than many other countries plagued by long periods of, or ongoing, dictatorship. It has the requisite, and ideal, two mainstream political parties. As for as the ability to wisely use the vote is concerned, even illiterate villagers know exactly what is good or bad for them, at the local level at least. Equally important is the fact that literacy is no pre-requisite to learning from the ongoing experience of democracy. Our newly free and mushrooming electronic media is going through its own difficulties and steep learning curve. Given the current levels of talent and professionalism, it will take a while to climb the curve.

At least there is a degree of freedom to the extent that media has a clout in national affairs now that it had never had before. The media is free to be of as poor a quality as it wishes to be. It can be shamelessly unprofessional. But ultimately they are in the business of selling what sells. Any salesperson worth her salt knows that you cannot sell anything if you do not have credibility. If they sell conspiracy theories it is because of the lack of transparency in the affairs of state and government. For a people used to being irrelevant and kept out of the picture, conspiracy is what makes sense of all that just does not add up, by ‘filling’ both the huge information and credibility gaps.

This piecemeal experience of bits and parts of democracy has ensured two things. One Pakistanis have never really been able to whole-heartedly accept dictatorship. Every dictator has had to claim that they were but a temporary interlude, only there to ensure and bring about ‘true’ democracy. Democratic voices have never been completely silenced even during the most repressive periods of dictatorship. This consistent struggle has ensured a reasonably involved and ongoing introspection about the identity and shape the state of Pakistan has taken over time. 9/11 stimulated a marked accelaration of this process of introspection. In the face of intensifying terrorism, the introspection reached fever pitch. It perhaps has come to a point where it is difficult to sustain the stress and anxiety levels and conspiracy theories are yet again embraced for mere comfort. Once again, they help make sense of what is seems so senselessly mad. Yet, on February 18, 2008, the people of Pakistan braved the bombs and suicide attacks in order to exercise their democratic right. The increased vulnerability meant casting the vote was a symbolic means of reassuring ourselves that we still had control over our destiny, a right denied to us for almost 10 years.

How much difference does the mere fact of being asked for your vote every five years make to a common citizen’s sense of belonging and her self-worth, is something that Pakistan’s (urban) poor only realised in the country’s first ever general election based on universal franchise. Even after 39 years, the PPP continues to receive the poor and working classes’ gratitude for giving them the feeling that they too count. That feeling returns every time there is an election, at least for a few days. But who said democracy could fix things, let alone itself, overnight.

The brief piece on Dr Manmohan Singh, incidentally of Sargodha (now Pakistan), was just to remind readers that merely adequately competent leaders, not necessarily giants of history, with incompetent pygmies in between, might do fine as long as the system of democracy is allowed to keep evolving in its usual two steps forward one step back manner (sometimes one and a half steps back). That the system is sustained, strengthened and protected by as many as(only and merely) humanly possible with honesty, diligence and, if necessary, sacrifice. All it needs is for everybody to simply stick to their constitutional role and make an honest effort to carry out their responsibilities legally and to the best of their ability. The latter part is no more than most of us ordinary citizens do everyday. Why can’t those who have taken a solemn oath to do so do the same? Ultimately, a free competition of self-interest, cunning and plotting will do little harm as long as the law is not allowed to be flouted and force or threat of force is not tolerated. Especially not by those in uniform and whose power derives from the barrel of their standard issue weapon.

– Posted by BC

43 Comments

Filed under Democracy, India, Jinnah, Pakistan

43 responses to “The Illegitimate Messiah Syndrome

  1. Milind Kher

    The search for a charismatic leader is in itself a thought process which is wrong.

    There is no correction mechanism if he errs, and it is difficult to perpetuate his legacy when he is not around.

    Democracy ensures the building of robust systems, and in the process, even and average leader can head the nation.

    Also, it is important to have a valid agenda. The bluster and rhetoric of right wing hardliners collapses fast. That is why the right wing in India has failed where Dr Singh has succeeded.

    The learnings can benefit everybody in the subcontinent

  2. Majumdar

    There is an element of truth in Steve Coll’s article. India’s uncharismatic leaders- MMS, ABV, LBS and most importantly PVNR did a lot more good (and more importnatly much less harm) to the country than India’s charismatic leaders of the Nehru-Gandhoo family.

    Regards

  3. BC: Many thanks for posting this article. It makes a great reading and I agree with your argument. We need to show patience and trust the democratic process – otherwise we are doomed to be a banana republic of sorts..

    Manmohan Singh is a remarkable leader – I am a huge admirer but his anti-Pakistan posturing suggests that when it comes to Pakistan he cannot think outside he box and is influenced by the Indian establishment and its mouthpiece, the mainstream Indian media.

    Singh will make a lasting mark on history if he takes a bold stand and rubbish the Pak-terror nexus mantra and think of the South Asian region as opposed to the messy Indian nation-state.

  4. Vajra

    @Raza Rumi

    Manmohan Singh has never been rude or discourteous, but neither has he been infirm of purpose. Somehow, it is difficult to convince our friends in Pakistan that the depth of anger in India during the last one year has crossed previous levels. You have to take note of it at some level, rather than dismissing it hopefully as either right-wing politics of pressure, or media-generated bullock-driving. Take a poll, if you like, of Indians writing in to PTH, who tend to be far more positive towards Pakistan and its people, and see for yourself. As you have recently been in India, from reports, you should presumably have heard and learnt this first-hand.

    Unfortunately, he, like many others, happens to believe in the Pakistani-terror nexus. Might I humbly recommend more effort and attention to that nexus, rather than to managing Indian perceptions?

  5. Majumdar

    RR sb,

    rubbish the Pak-terror nexus mantra

    He will do so when Pak dismantles the terror nexus.

    and think of the South Asian region as opposed to the messy Indian nation-state.

    The job of an Indian PM is to look after the affairs of the Indian nation-state (however messy it might be) and not after the affairs of an imaginary South Asian region.

    Regards

  6. Vajra

    @Raza Rumi

    And I couldn’t resist drawing your attention to the irritating anomaly that the messy Indian state has still managed to be democratic in a continuous and sustained manner, compared to some of the slick autocracies in the neighbourhood.

    Bloody Civilian’s whole essay, I rather thought, was based on precisely this point: that the guided precision of an autocracy is far more cosmetically attractive than the bumbling, slow-moving ways of a democracy, and that the heroes and men on horseback of autocracies are not necessarily better for their people than humble, hard-working low key people like Dr. Singh. Humble people incapable of dramatic statements rather go with messy democracies. How I wish we could present you a more attractive picture and ‘sexier’ role-models and help you attract a ‘better’ class of people to democracy. Not very likely, alas. What you see is what you get.

  7. Gorki

    Reading the above post, one is reminded of the following sentiments of John Adams, the second President of the United States:

    “There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty”

    But the post does much more than an echo the words of a long dead statesman; it is a very deliberate warning to us South Asians who have a tendency to hero worship. We are often mesmerized by personalities and we forget it is institutions rather than personalities that ultimately make a difference.

    The second point that is made here is that while charismatic leaders and demagogues can appear in a flash; building institutions is a slow and tedious process, a process that may take several lifetimes. Yet if we truly love our country and our children and wish to leave them a worthwhile legacy, our generation has only one choice in this matter as the article points out.

    The author of the article, by making an eloquent argument, appears to have his priorities right.
    John Adams; thinker, politician, and one of the most influential founding fathers of the United States would certainly appreciate his views. I finish my post with another quote by him to illustrate my point:

    ‘The science of government it is my duty to study, more than all other sciences; the arts of legislation and administration and negotiation ought to take the place of, indeed exclude, in a manner, all other arts.
    I must study politics and war, that our sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. Our sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry and porcelain’. (Adams in a letter to his wife)

    Regards.

  8. Majumdar

    Gorki sb,

    it is a very deliberate warning to us South Asians who have a tendency to hero worship.

    And nowhere more applicable in SA than India. The two thugs who did the worst damage to India- JLN and his daughter- are the ones who are most hero worshipped.

    Regards

  9. Gorki

    And Majumdar Da,

    I find myself agreeing with you more often these days.😉
    A sobering thought for us Indians is that we too had a rather close shave when our own Indira Gandhi literally started believing the ‘Indira is India’ slogan and declared her infamous emergency.

    Regards.

  10. Majumdar

    Thanks, Gorki sb. I knew that you wud come around one day.

    Regards

  11. Milind Kher

    Raza Sahab,

    Serious operations against the terrorists are only of recent vintage.

    Otherwsie, you have the backdrop of OBL, Mullah Omar etc finding a safe haven in India, Let and JeM training camps and so many other things.

    It is difficult for those images to be erased. Even as far as the TTP is concerned, unless the operations very rapidly start yielding tangible results, many will consider them an eyewash.

    Very unfortunately for the Pakistani people, over several years many rulers have discarded the interests of the nation for power and pelf.

  12. Vajra

    @Milind Kher

    Otherwsie, you have the backdrop of OBL, Mullah Omar etc finding a safe haven in India,

    Excuse me?

  13. Bloody Civilian

    @Raza Rumi

    Thanks for suggesting the idea in relation to the Steve Coll article in the first place.

    some of the comments here have explained the basic idea more eloquently and succinctly than i was able to.

    regards

  14. Bloody Civilian

    Vajra

    the issue is not that there is a Pakistan-terror nexus, but where in Pakistan, exactly, is this nexus. The difference is between how precisely and correctly Pakistanis wish to locate it, as opposed to Indians. Our own lives too depend on this exact and complete identification. Anything other than a precise approach allows the enemy to hide better – especially if there is lots of loose talk.

    The wrong is more than just recognised, as is the need for righting it. As for the pain and anguish it has caused, it is acknowledged and, it is hoped, will never be forgotten. but anger, while totally understandable, is of little positive use. the same applies to acknowledging it. if there is a desire on the part of the angry to turn it into action, my statement about acknowledging anger still remains unaffected.

  15. Bloody Civilian

    @Milind Kher

    OBL, Mullah Omar etc finding a safe haven in India [i presume you meant Pakistan]

    is ‘most probably hiding in Pakistan’ the same as ‘safe haven in Pakistan’?

  16. Vajra

    @Bloody Civilian

    Indeed you are right, precisely and clinically right as usual.

    The difficulty is that Pakistan in the shape of its government and military establishment seeks to locate the nexus within a vague and indeterminate amorphous section of society which is now at odds with the rest of the world.

    India on the other hand, sees this section of society as being in receipt of clandestine support of the Pakistani intelligence and the military.

    Both sides can’t be right.

  17. Bloody Civilian

    seeks to locate the nexus within a vague and indeterminate amorphous section of society

    i’m afraid i don’t entirely agree. that is not to say i don’t have my own apprehensions and concerns. but i, being closer to the epicentre, cannot afford to feel frustrated, or to despair, or least of all let anger distract me. the issue, once again is that just like the state is not a monolith, the military establishment isn’t one either. yet the state when addressing the outside world does it as if it were a monolith. this predicament is in no way unique to pakistan.

    it would have been and was an unnacceptable situation when there was an illegitimate govt in pakistan. you can’t claim both illegitimate and absolute power and hide behind democratic process and legal process at the same time.

    the military establishment is faced with the same predicament, albeit to a much lesser extent ie it pretends to be a monolith when it speaks to non-military Pakistan. now the military’s predicament in this regard, unlike the country’s, is not necessarily shared by other militaries around the world. just like the country, the military too has suffered the harm and institutional divisiveness of long periods of military dictatorship. while it is easy to be impatient with that situation, one cannot ignore the importance of supporting the army at the time of war against terrorists who are killing us on a daily basis.

    that is my predicament as an ordinary citizen of pakistan trying to make up and explain my mind on the matter, in the hope of thinking and doing the right thing.

  18. Bloody Civilian

    Both sides can’t be right

    sorry. the penny took longer than the usual long time to drop. i see what you mean. that indeed is the issue.

  19. Milind Kher

    @BC,

    Yes, I meant Pakistan. “Hiding in” and “finding a safe haven in” are not really different as they seem.

    If you are hidden from those who want to track you down, but are safe from those who can expose you, but yet cover you up, it amounts to the same.

    Today, OBL (assuming he is alive) is safe because of the collusion of sympathizers in the establishment.

    With Rahe nijaat, there may be a paradigm shift in how Pakistan is viewed, but till now that was the picture.

  20. Bloody Civilian

    the collusion of sympathizers in the establishment

    is it a deductive view, or is there clear evidence of it that one can build a legal case on? if the former, then it is a view that anyone is free to express like any other.

    with or without defining ‘establishment’, other than raah e nijaat, greater awareness and vigilence and due process, how else does one go about doing something about these embedded colluders? are you suggesting that these colluders too are well-known to the establishment? in that case, why not say that the whole establilshment is colluding? in which case a definition of ‘establishment’ would really help.

  21. Milind Kher

    @BC,

    The situation is a little complex. The official establishment policy is not that of collusion. However, there are elements within the establishment, who cannot be swept away in one fell swoop, who are still guilty.

    I am sure that given their new resolve, GOP will identify and isolate such elements. However, GOP also has its work cut out in view of perceptions have built up over a period of time.

    When people say Pakistan is not doing enough, it is a reflection of that thought process. I, for my part am convinced that the Pak army is going about its work in right earnest.

  22. Bloody Civilian

    perceptions have built up over a period of time

    speaking for myself, i consider dictators to be my country’s greatest enemies. followed by those who support them. that is how i look at any previous “period of time” and at the future. that is the definition of my struggle and effort. perceptions that fail to recognise that are of no use or interest to me. they are matters for other people and their governments to deal with as they wish to. that’s no concern of mine.

  23. Milind Kher

    To clarify, in India and in many other countries, a perception has built up that GOP colluded with the terrorists.

    Whether this perception was right or not is a different matter, but Pakistan is going to have a tough time erasing that. Dr Manmohan Singh is still skeptical..

  24. mohammad

    Mr Singh is a reflection of a dying generation of indians who are austere . On the other hand all pakistani politicians try to instill their persona on our collective psyche. I think pakistani mind set has something to do with our islamic history where thugs womanizers and murderers as well as pious autocrats presented a likeable public persona. I think if modern democracy is allowed to flourish without interference from outside or within and there is an overhaul of election laws keeping in mind curbing election spending, we may have a middle class assembly and prime minister like intern PM miraj khalid in a decade. Will such a democracy eradicate poverty of? course not, we as a nation need to improve our work ethic, that will change our society for good once and forever.

  25. Vajra

    @Bloody Civilian
    @Milind Kher

    I have been sitting bemused watching Milind give BC a solemn lecture on what GoP really wants, and what they really think. This is truly marvellous and worth the price of admission. BC, get down on your knees and kiss Milind’s, er, knees.

    Milind, for an encore, could you tell us what makes Kiyani tick? Don’t do the full psychological profile with the Rorschach tests, just a quickie for dummies like me.

  26. Vijay Goel

    Our friend Adam Smith also said that a business man pursuing his own interest is led by an invisble hand to do more good to society than if he had consciously set out to do so.So also I believe your thoughts by itself will do more good than if you had propogated them as a Knight in Shining Armour.Your post of 26th.Nov 2.42 pm is a masterpiece.It has definitely given a new direction to me.You are at the epicentre of the thunderstorm while I am at a distance so such words of wisdom have a special meaning.

  27. Luqmaan

    >Mr Singh is a reflection of a dying generation
    >of indians who are austere .

    The system (which is) in place (in India) will continue to supply these type of people. The way things are going, the aam aadmee has just begun demanding quality. The next generation of politicians will be even better. The Indians can sincerely hope that a similar raggle taggle but working system falls into place in Pakistan (faster) as well. Such a thing – in turn, probably benefits India as well – unless of course, the new system uses the NGOs as strategic assets.

    Luq

  28. Seems to be a fair analysis.
    India is surging ahead amidst its myriad of problems,Pakistan is unable to come to terms with itself as a Nation.Sticking to a religious ideology that has been the bane of many a Democracy,looking for phantoms that are out to destroy it, when none is in place,to corrupt politicians( India has its fair share of these specimens),a pathetic people who do not raise their voice though there are a proud and intelligent people with culture.,looking for alms from countries that want Pakistan as a tool in their strategic games,allowing uncultured antediluvian mullahs to rouse passions with wrong interpretations of Islam,allowing an usurper to the highest office,exiled criminals being legally pardoned and allowed to have a decisive say in running the country,Pakistan presents a sad spectacle of a noble dream come unstuck.

  29. Pingback: The Illegitimate Messiah Syndrome-Pak. Vs Indiaa. « Ramanan50's Blog

  30. Milind Kher

    My take is that Pakistan is today suffering because they are not following the path that Mr Jinnah wanted the nation to take.

    Dictatorships and an ill formed theocracy have proved to be the nation’s undoing.Rather than belittling Zardari, they should try to strengthen his hands.

  31. Milind Kher

    The Pak terror nexus mantra will not be easily dropped.

    LeT alone is estimated to receive Rs 35 crores per annum just for weapons. And this is just one of the organizations. The question any politician in India would raise is regarding how this could be possible without the Pak government being involved.

    It is going to be a tough job, and at the same time, the US will continue to harden its stand.

  32. Vajra

    @Vijay Goel

    Whom were you addressing? Were you sarcastic or serious?

  33. Luqmaan

    @Vajr’

    One track mind…

    Luq

  34. bushra naqi

    Talking about leadership, president Brezhnev of the former U.S.S.R. once said that the least leadership is the best leadership. This does not mean an absence of leadership but emphasizes the importance of sustained and solid mechanisms in the administrative machinery, where there is no undue interference from the head of state in running the country’s affairs. Within this partially automated system there is a potential for greater efficiency. If and when the systems fail they can be repaired through deliberation and consensus.

    Furthermore democracy cannot revolve around one man, but is the rule of many. Our obsession with charismatic characters backfires when we refuse to accept austere personalities like manmohan singh and go for personalities who
    utter only rhetoric, covering their shallowness
    and incompetence. We can never strengthen democracy with this mindset.

  35. bushra naqi

    sorry I meant least governance is the best governance instead of least leadership is the best leadership

  36. Vajra

    @bushra naqi

    Well, you aren’t wrong in either case.

  37. Vijay Goel

    @ Vajra I am not facing frequent suicide bombers God forbid I be sarcastic to well meaning people.

  38. Vijay Goel

    @ Vajra I am not facing frequent suicide bombers God forbid I be sarcastic to well meaning people facing the heat.

  39. Vajra

    @Vijay Goel

    In that case, I would like to join you in sincere tribute to that piece.

  40. Bloody Civilian

    re. punjabi mark II

    speaking for myself, why would i wish to influence or necessarily care about what the indian govt thinks? i have my work cut out trying to get my own govt to listen to me.

    re. punjabi mark II

    if even writing a whole article admitting that they are better and we are not worthy will not spare us from our friends repeatedly telling us the same… then nothing will. i, for one, i’m not interested in trying to find out the reason behind this phenomenon. oh yes, before you remind us… yes we have big egoes too. though you will remind us, all the same. so let it all out please. no good holding it all in. thanks

  41. Hayyer

    Mohammad: 6:51 pm 26/11
    I sensed admiration in your line on the austere generation. MMS is not only a reflection of the austere generation he is also its most effective disguise. We are talking of a breed of young scions who wear Serengeti sunshades with their khaddar kurta pyjamas and race go-karts when bored with their Manga comics or Filmfare magazines.
    This generation is now set to ‘lead India’. They really believe it.

  42. Milind Kher

    @Hayyer,

    I yet do believe that the younger politicians like Rahul Gandhi, Sachin pilot, Milind Deora etc are good. The most important point in their favor is that they are well educated. Also, they are highly driven.

    I believe that there will be great things happening for India under Rahul Gandhi

  43. Great piece and great discussion.

    @Milind Kher

    Rahul Gandhi and well educated? Please define well educated.