Something is NOT right with the Modi Sarkar


By lunch time on 16 May 2014, Indians who had voted for change had some hopes. By breakfast time on 27 May 2014, those hopes were partially eclipsed by some strange appointments.

It is now quite clear that Dr. Manmohan Singh (MMS) was never the Prime Minister of India. He only sat on the Prime Ministerial chair. He was defeated in the only general election he participated in 1999. The BJP’s main theme during the UPA’s 10 year rule was that MMS was never elected. But Mr. Narendra Modi conveniently discarded this principle by appointing two defeated Lok Sabha aspirants as cabinet ministers. There are still some who are not even Members of Parliament.

A cursory look at the Union Cabinet does not generate much confidence. It does not give Indians much hope. It is felt that there is not going to be any realistic change. Most ministers are first timers who have no clue of what their ministry is about. Some citizenry argued that the Aam Admi Party members were like drivers with a learner’s licence. Modi’s cabinet very much resembles the AAP group.

There is no doubt that Narendra Modi is a proven administrator and well qualified to be the PM. In fact, he is the only PM material today this country has. He may have governed Gujarat from Gandhinagar effectively. Can he do the same for India from Delhi? India in 2014, is not a one man show. It is impossible for Modi to pay attention to all of India even if he were to work 24 x 7 x 365. Professional and able aides can make his task easier.

The Union Cabinet has 46 ministers. With the sole exception of Modi, the only other minister who can professionally handle his ministry is Dr. Harsh Vardhan as Minister for Health and Family Welfare. The first off the block, to criticize this Modi ministry was Ms. Madhu Kishwar who came down heavily on Ms. Smriti Irani and her lack of qualifications to head the HRD Ministry. Kishwar has a valid point. A person who has no clue about higher education cannot obviously be her own minister. She will have to depend upon the same vile bureaucrats who have not done any sensible work for decades.

The next high profile target is obviously Mr. Arun Jaitley, who is a lawyer by profession and currently holding the dual charge of Finance and Defence. It is any body’s guess where a person who was running from court to court till recently was educated in finance and defence matters. His first test was the affidavit presented in the Court by his own MoD. Whether the MoD bureaucrats consulted him or not is another matter. As the Defence Minister he has to take full responsibility for this shoddy and terrible work. It is unbelievable that a government affidavit slams another minister in the same government. The Defence Minister has flunked badly. The Finance and Defence ministry cupboards are full of UPA skeletons. Is Arun Jaitley a plant of the previous regime? Why is Modi a party to this? What are Modi’s compulsions? Is any external power involved?

How about the Minister for Ganga Rejuvenation? For someone who works in fits and starts, is Ms. Uma Bharati even suitable for a job that is likely to last over ten years. Modi has a dream to bring the Bullet Train technology to India. The new Railway Minister from Karnataka would not even know the width of a broad gauge railway track, let alone the horsepower of a Rajdhani diesel engine. Delhi and its surrounding areas have been affected by severe power cuts in recent days. The Union Power Minister is a professional chartered accountant. Can he even understand how power is generated and a few technical terms in power management? He has already started blaming the previous government. How is he different from his illustrious predecessor Sushil Kumar Shinde?

As PM, Narendra Modi has huge human resources at his command. Gen VK Singh is a professional soldier and would be the ideal person to clean up the MoD. If the unelected could be made ministers, why leave out Dr. Subramanian Swamy, who is a trained economist. Many of his pre-election ideas may, now, not be implemented when the budget is presented. Surely, other professionals like Arun Shourie and Elattuvalapil Sreedharan too could easily have been brought into the Cabinet. The era of generalists is over. Unless ministers and bureaucrats are professionally qualified in their duties, nothing much is likely to change. The ministers need to be in charge and must question their bureaucrats regularly. This is possible only if they are one step ahead of the bureaucrats. If political pressures are putting Modi into a corner, then the least the PM can do is to include these experts as secretaries or advisers to the government. The Modi Cabinet must be professionally smart.

Narendra Modi swept to power largely on the basis of promises. Doling out ministries to ill qualified persons is not the way to the common man’s heart. There is no doubt that the PM is an innovator and people earnestly wish him to succeed. It is his ministers who are likely to let him down and ground his ship. A couple of incidents and unnecessary blabbering in the last two weeks prove this. One could argue that the Modi Cabinet is alike a toddler who is learning to walk. Well, the toddler has already fallen a couple of times and broken a few bones. A limping toddler may not have a very bright future when surrounded by enemies.

(Shailesh Ranade is a Guest Blogger with the Canary Trap. The opinions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of Canary Trap or any employee thereof)

27 thoughts on “Something is NOT right with the Modi Sarkar

  1. You have written about the three ministries, Water, HRD and Finance in which I wanted to see a different set of people. Piyush Goyal, IMHO is capable.

  2. Downright cynical. And way off the mark. First, its a very carefully selected set of ministers who will deliver. Most Indians are confident of that. Author overlooks the fact that a Team Captain deploys the field, to ensure a win. Spectators sit (and comment) and watch. But they see the results. NaMo never promised ‘comfort’, he promised results. Those I am sure will come in. The author’s suggested/ dream listed positioning are way off. Those would have been disastrous.
    And by the way, the freshers are the ones who are being groomed. My own take? NaMo is here for ten years. He himself will opt out of active duty at age 75 the way it is now for the old guard, and the next lot- freshers if you please, would have been groomed by then. Another bid at crystal ball gazing? Ms Smriti Irani, the much criticized by men of little substance? I would not be surprised to see her as a likely PM candidate 10 years from now. Not because of favoritism. Out of sheer capability. Yesssirr. Wait and watch. Have you heard her speak? If not, do that, and you can’t miss the potential. There are others too, the way they would be in any well managed corporate.

    1. Why call it as ‘cynical’ view of the author? To me it appears to be just a ‘critical’ view.
      One such criticism is that Modi must give top priority to the appointment of a full time Defence Minister. Clubbing Finance and Defence Ministries under one Minister, that also Defence being termed as additional charge of the Finance Minister, can never work. Because, both the ministries are vital and require full time attention, for the good of the Nation. The better method may be for the PM to hold the charge of Defence Minister also, till he can find a suitable person for the post.
      The people have voted for Modi and BJP to deliver the goods they had promised. But, criticisms will be there and all such criticisms cannot be brushed aside as cynicism. Some of them may also be constructive.

      1. The author’s observations ( of course without waiting to observe enough) are not only cynical but snobbish. The minister’s job is to make the secretaries work. The railway minister does not have to know the width of the broad guage, nor the HRD minister the phylum of a specimen. All those who know such things are either professionals or have joined IAS etc. Shailesh Ranade and his ilk might as well join the likes of Kapil Sibal, Digvijay Singh, Manishankar….

    2. Why call it as ‘cynical’ view of the author? To me it appears to be just a ‘critical’ view.
      One such criticism is that Modi must give top priority to the appointment of a full time Defence Minister. Clubbing Finance and Defence Ministries under one Minister, that also Defence being termed as additional charge of the Finance Minister, can never work. Because, both the ministries are vital and require full time attention, for the good of the Nation. The better method may be for the PM to hold the charge of Defence Minister also, till he can find a suitable person for the post.
      The people have voted for Modi and BJP to deliver the goods they had promised. But, criticisms will be there and all such criticisms cannot be brushed aside as cynicism. Some of them may also be constructive

  3. I don’t understand this hurry in criticizing Modi and his team instead of waiting for some time to see how his team works?

  4. A very good analysis by you. But I do feel it is early days to judge the Modi govt. And we need to remember that although the victory was essentially his, the hard core RSS and BJP elements will continue to demand their share. We need to watch how he handles the various Hindutva power centres. They may be more tricky to manage than a demoralised opposition. I personally feel it was a good idea to keep VKS away from the MOD. He is too immature to take a broader view of the world. He finds it difficult to even control his petty vendetta of the past.

  5. Could not agree with you more. How can Govt afford a Self Goal in its first show in Parliament. Unless Mr Modi takes charge we may be having Babu’s running the roost as ever before. Am sure that things will change with Mr Modi settling down to Ways at Centre – the way he spoke in Parliament it was par excellent. Never has the Lok Sabha heard such inspiring words – GOD be with him

  6. I am reminded of an old anecdote that I read long ago.
    It is believed that Charles Kettering – a very successful American inventor/businessman always preferred to recruit ‘fresh’ people opposed to ‘experienced’ ones. One of his trusted assistants was quite surprised and did query him on this habit of his. Kettering is supposed to have told him, that when he gave a ‘difficult’ task – the ‘experienced’ person would often tell him that based on his own ‘experience’ one or more reasons why the task could not be done. But the ‘fresher’ not having that ‘experience’ would not know that it could not done, and more often than not, go and do it.
    Being an optimist, am hoping that in this case it will happen.

  7. Doesn’t make sense. Firstly two of the most qualified politicians, Mr. Yashwant sinha (IAS) and Mr.Shashi Throor (UN background) have been the biggest political disasters in the independent indian history,while Mr. Dhirubai Ambani created a fortune with a mere 12th grade certification. A certification just lets you know the means to success which anyways is known to everyone with similar qualifications. A leader is by birth and cannot roll out of a factory or institution. That’s why south koreans can never replace German engineering.

    1. The ministers may not have a degree but must have at least basic knowledge of their departments. Dhirubhai Ambani never went to college. Neither did he create wealth overnight. He struggled for 30 years before you could read him in the newspapers. With nincompoops in ministries, does India have to wait that long? Since the talent is already available, why not use it right away. There are a lot of wrong things going on. To set it right, you need knowledge and will power.

    2. Dear Madhusudan….Is Reliance hiring people without degrees these days? Please let me know. I am looking for a job.

  8. Concur with some points made by Ranade. Shri Modi cannot remain awake 24 hours and correct the silly mistakes of his brood. Some ministers are absolute duffers and in no way different from the previous lot. India needs professionals at the top and not ministers who depend on babus for every advice. Domain knowledge is a must. They should have prepared themselves as there was a “Modi Wave”. An important ministry such a Defence has no suitor in a population of 1.25 billion?

  9. I do not agree, degrees alone do not matter. Smriti is far better than many PhDs and Uma Bharati is working hard in her ministry. The criticism of Railway Minister is in bad taste. He is an honest and capable individual. Gen VKS has got the right ministry. NE needed someone like him. Yes a new defence minister is needed, but definitely PM has some plans. Let’s not prejudge him. Defence Secretary needs to be sacked and I am sure he will be soon.
    Let’s not start criticizing the government now.

  10. I agree with Ranade’s comments. I have heard Mr Narendra Damodardas Modi’s speech in Lok Sabha for 50 minutes. He will welcome these suggestions.

  11. I suggest Let the New Govt work for atleast 6 months. We are unnecessarily worrying ourselves sick to think how will he work. It is his problem how will he work. Our problem will be how to remove him or strengthen him depending on his performance after six months/ one year. Keep some patience. If we could wait for 60 years in corruption ridden environment we can definitely wait for one more year

  12. Its too early for this kind of analysis.He has taken a team which will perform,lets give him and his team some time to set the house (incl babus) in order.
    Presence of persons like Mr Jetly,Mr Ravi Shankar Prasad,Ms Irani Mr Goyal amongst many others speaks volumes about the team.Lets wish them well–they will perform up to our expectations.

  13. Mr. Sailesh Ranade in some of his previous articles has always been correct & reasonable. However, in this particular one its my personal belief he has been over critical.
    I neither hold a brief for any Minister, the BJP or Mr. Modi nor am I a seasoned political analyst or an expert on any subject as many others who precisely know what Modi should be doing as also each of his ministerial appointees.
    All I wish to say is the Congress has had its 10 years of rule and they’ve left the country gasping and in a state of disarray.
    It would be impossible for any well intentioned PM, and Mr. Modi is indeed one, along with his ministers, aided, guided and supervised by him, to take the country down any further and deeper into a darker abyss.
    All of us, the retired Service officers are an endowed lot and know everything about everything from Nuclear chemical reactions to Nuclear weapons to operations of Corporate India and how exactly every country in the World should be run, including India. By raving and ranting all we are doing is lending support and strength to the group of biased and allegedly sponsored TV channels.
    All Mr. Modi has requested is 60 months, a damn sight less than 67 years Congress has had.

  14. Indians expected Modi to include professionals in his team. Along with the PM’s will power, it would have been a unbeatable combination. It would have made Indians proud.

  15. There is a trend to have specialists and not generalists. So why should the Mantri be any different. The chaiwallah who has become a PM has proven himself. Why couldn’t the other established persons be taken on board. Here almost 80% of the cabinet are greenhorns. Now they will learn on the job. India does not have the luxury of waiting.

  16. I think I agree with the writer. In a country like India with so many problems, illiteracy, poverty etc., a minister must be able to share the pain and agony. Only a railway man can understand the railways. Only a military man can understand the military. Only a farmer can understand the country’s problems in agriculture. This cabinet has a lawyer as defence minster. A nautanki as Ganga cleaning minister and an incoherent Jawdekar as I&B minister. List can go on. All are clueless.

  17. A good piece by Ranade again. No doubt about Modi’s intentions. . Doubts are being raised about some traitors and spies from the previous government. who are likely to bring shame to Modi. Twitter is aflame on these people. Many Twitterati have inside information.

  18. No doubt I respect Mr Narendra Modi for the way he orchestrated his election campaign and triumphed securing a clear mandate. I respect for Mr Narendra Modi for the way he has transformed Gujarat into a prosperous state. Yet, as Ranade has pointed out, there is something amiss in the formation of his Cabinet. There is no doubt that he has picked a committed & dedicated band of individuals to be his Ministers; but in allotting portfolios to them he appears to have lost his way. There is glaring mismatch between the personality & professional acumen of individuals and the portfolios allotted to them. As rightly pointed out by Veteran Ranade, making Shri Arun Jaitley, a lawyer by profession as the Finance Minister is ludicrous, to say the least; when there are well qualified/ experts available in the field of Economics to head the Finance Ministry. With all due respects & regards to Ms Smrithi Irani, a modicum of educational qualification by way of a Graduate or a Post Graduate Degree is essential to do justice to the job as HRD Minister. These are just two examples and there are others. It is a classic case of fitting square pegs in round holes. This does not augur well for the new Govt headed by Shri Narendra Modi. Add to it, the temerity of the Babus in the MoD filing an affidavit in the Supreme Court in Gen Dastane’s case, running down Gen VK Singh, a Minister in the Govt. And surprising Shri Arun Jaitley upholding the action by the Babus in MoD. On whose side is Shri Arun Jaitly batting? For Sonia Gandhi or for Shri Narendra Modi ?

  19. Ministers are expected to drive policy (the will of the people) and extract performance from the over paid and over trained bureaucrats and ensure their integrity. Why should they be experts at shuffling files?

  20. Most of the commentators, including the author of this article, have missed the point. When you are prepared to give all credit to Modi’s faculties, why not wait for him to deliver? He has chosen his team. Surely he knows what he is doing. We have seen what the foreign educated and highly qualified ministers did in the past. The executives need to be skilled but the minister wise.

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