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What if coronavirus crisis had hit India under Manmohan Singh, not Modi

Singh was a quiet power — driven by institutions and systems, Modi is visible and vocal, powered by his own personality. Both bring unique strengths to tackle coronavirus.

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It is a tantalising thought to entertain. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s charisma and oratory are just what Indians need to obey lockdown orders and other candles and claps requests during the coronavirus pandemic. None of this would have been this easy if Manmohan Singh was the prime minister today and presiding over the Covid-19 crisis.

Singh’s wispy voice, meek demeanour and complete lack of either political capital or fan-following across India would have been huge hurdles in pandemic leadership. Imagine the 8 pm address by him telling people to stay indoors. Not just citizens, but even his own cabinet colleagues would not have spoken in one voice.

But India is different under Narendra Modi. Those in direct touch with health and family welfare Secretary Preeti Sudan say even if they send her a query on the coronavirus pandemic at 2 am on WhatsApp, they have a clear answer within minutes. Quite a change from the Union health minister under Manmohan Singh’s second UPA government — Ghulam Nabi Azad who abhorred using the mobile phone even for routine calls.

That’s far from the only difference between the two governments, one run by Manmohan Singh between 2004 and 2014, reflecting his personality, and the fact that he was only one among others who had a say; and the other run by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose voice is the only one that matters. Manmohan Singh was supportive, while Modi is assertive.

But leadership is more than just impressive personality traits and cult following. Democracy is all about the work of building institutions and the people who run it – away from the cameras, headlines and hashtags.

And Singh was a quiet power—driven by institutions and systems, Modi is visible and vocal, powered by his own personality.

Also read: Poke fun at taali, thaali, diya and mombatti all you want. Modi couldn’t care less

Kinder history

Although the scale of the epidemic was not as widespread, but when the H1N1 virus struck India in 2009, claiming over 1,800 lives and infecting 20,000, Ghulam Nabi Azad was the face of the government, speaking to each chief minister to mobilise political attention, recalls former Union health secretary K. Sujatha Rao, with additional face-to-face meetings with state health ministers. Quite a change from this time when the daily briefing on coronavirus is not taken by health minister Harsh Vardhan but the favourite of the Prime Minister’s Office, health and family welfare joint secretary Luv Agarwal, and when all virtual meetings with chief ministers are held by Modi himself.

It is symptomatic of the way Modi runs the government. When it came to announcing the national lockdown on 24 March, chief ministers were not informed in advance. As Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel has tweeted, it would have been in national interest if the prime minister had consulted with states first. But then it is part of Prime Minister Modi’s surgical strike mentality, whether it is the 2016 demonetisation or the surgical strike in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir, to catch people by surprise.

When Manmohan Singh said history would be kinder to him than media, even he couldn’t have imagined that it would be so soon. Even the worst critics of the two UPA governments, who felt he was too weak to stand up to UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, believe he would have been more consultative in his decision-making and handled the economy better. Says economic analyst Minhaz Merchant: “He would possibly have opted for a limited lockdown as some countries have done and then through incremental steps, depending on data, increased it to a total lockdown. He’d have considered the impact of an abrupt and total lockdown on the economy and would have sought a finer balance between the two.”

File photo | PM Narendra Modi talks to chief ministers on plan to tackle coronavirus |
File photo | PM Narendra Modi talks to chief ministers on plan to tackle coronavirus |

Also read: Will be a long fight against Covid-19, we can’t be tired, can’t lose — PM tells BJP workers

The good and the bad

A quick-and-dirty SWOT analysis of Singh and Modi would be a study in contrasts.

Manmohan Singh’s greatest weakness was always his inability to communicate effectively, something Modi is able to do brilliantly. As communications specialist Dilip Cherian says: “We should remember that UPA’s biggest failure was not economy at all, but communication. Today, those who get teary eyed comparing India’s economic growth under the Manmohan Singh disposition to the Modi sarkar‘s should also recall that the UPA governments he led were deemed weak and seen as lacking the courage to take hard decisions. In fact, it was the later avatar of the Manmohan Singh government, which opened the space for Modi to inveigle himself into the Indian public’s mind space.

Yet, as Cherian notes, in 1991, as then finance minister, Manmohan Singh dealt firmly and swiftly with the economic crisis. “The top team in place then,” he says, “was world-class and also rather visible. From Manmohan Singh to Montek Singh Ahluwalia, the big guns were powerful and pragmatic. Survival was ensured and the crisis was used to trigger long-term changes to prevent recurrence.”

There is no question, though, that unlike Manmohan Singh or any other UPA stalwart, Modi has used his excellent communication skills well, whether it is his preferred 8 pm live broadcast or his 9 am recorded address, to sustain the impression that he deals directly with the people, and that they listen to him, whether it is to applaud health workers with taalis and thalis or light diyas to dispel the metaphorical darkness. This ability to talk directly to the people is, after all, a tool he used effectively already, to bring down a government, Cherian adds.

Also read: PM Modi speaks to Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi & Pranab Mukherjee on Covid-19 concerns

Standing on old institutions

Modi can give many speeches against Jawaharlal Nehru and the wasted ‘70 years’. But on several counts, his government could be said to have borrowed from the Manmohan Singh government.

Take the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme run by the National Centre for Disease Control and developed in 2004. It’s the very one being used to track the spread of coronavirus in 2020. Or take the idea of the empowered group of ministers (GoMs) for wider consultations. Given the invisibility of ministers in the Modi era, it was substituted with the empowered groups (EGoMs) headed by handpicked secretaries once the humanitarian crisis got out of hand and it was clear the technical task force set up by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on 18 March and the public health working group set up by the health ministry on 21 March were not enough. There were 30 EGoMs and GoMs in UPA 2. When Modi took over, he abolished all.

But on 29 March, his government set up 11 empowered groups under the Disaster Management Act 2005, headed by handpicked secretaries with a history of delivering under duress such as drinking water supply secretary Parameswaran Iyer (head of facilitating supply chain and logistics management for availability of necessary items such as food and medicine), NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant (in charge of coordinating with the private sector, NGOs and international organisations for response-related activities), and pharmaceuticals secretary P.D. Vaghela (in charge of ensuring availability of essential medical equipment such as PPE, masks, gloves, ventilators, production, procurement, import and distribution).

Even Modi’s most ambitious health scheme, Ayushman Bharat, is an expanded version of the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana launched in 2008. Ayushman Bharat, which with Modi’s love for gigantism, is now the largest publicly funded health insurance scheme in the world.

But not all inheritances are positive. Spending in healthcare is still woefully short of 2.5 per cent of the GDP it is meant to be. In its report to the Fifteenth Finance Commission constituted in 2017, a high-level group on health sector had estimated that the central health funding had to be Rs 1,45,000 crore in 2020-21 in order to achieve the goal of 2.5 per cent of GDP as stated by the 2017 National Health Policy. Instead, the central health funding/spending was just about Rs 70,000 crore this year.

Finance ministercManmohan Singh after presenting historic 1991 budget. | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
Then finance minister Manmohan Singh after presenting historic 1991 budget. | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint

Also read: Vajpayee-Advani to Modi-Shah: This was India’s decade of political power duos

Setting up a public health framework

If there are lessons to be learnt, they are from UPA government 1’s battle against HIV/AIDS and the tripling of the budget of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) to tackle maternal and infant mortality, before health fell off the map because of a series of scams in UPA 2. It has enough lessons for future governments, provided there is political support, an adequate budget, and continuing consultations with civil society and states —the Modi government’s distaste for civil society is also well known with NGO dissent consistently being seen as anti-national and vilification of the National Advisory Council during UPA1 and UPA2, with the BJP criticising its chairperson Sonia Gandhi for being “super PM”.

But whether under Manmohan Singh or Narendra Modi, India’s public health system has continued to languish. There was an effort to create a public health cadre under the UPA government, which was emphasised in the national health policy of 2016-2017. As former Union health Secretary Shailaja Chandra (1999-2002) says: “States do not give the primacy, which is essential to locate disease hotspots, detect cases and keep surveillance. We don’t need post-graduates for this but people at district levels trained in public health. Medical and public health are two independent streams and both are essential.”

The Public Health Foundation of India, set up by Manmohan Singh as a public-private initiative in 2006, offers a masters in public health but over the years, with the rise of the non-communicable disease burden, attention to public health began to wane, says Sujatha Rao, who was director-general of National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) between 2006 and 2009 as well as health secretary between 2009 and 2010. “Public health as a discipline lost importance and that is not a good development for India that still has 36 per cent of its disease burden on account of communicable and infectious diseases. India is much too vulnerable to let down its guard on infectious diseases. This could be ensured if we have a dedicated department of public health,’’ adds Rao.

Nirmal K. Ganguly, former director-general of Indian Council of Medical Research, echoes this. At the top of his four decisions related to public health in India is the creation of a cadre of public health workers including social and behavioural scientists—British India had the Indian Medical Service whose military cadre worked in civilian hospitals as well, which was disbanded in 1947. Second, is to create a network of accessible and affordable public health laboratories. Third, is to start a postdoctoral specialist course in infectious diseases. And fourth, is to create a network of research NGOs that should be supported by the government and other organisations.

Speaking in his personal capacity (as he is a member of the ICMR task force), Ganguly says: “These ideas are not new but they need commitment at the highest level, real funding, and a unified system where there is no territorial divide between organisations. Every government across the world that doesn’t take health seriously had better start doing so. These viruses don’t respect borders and don’t need visas and passports. No longer is any infection merely local.”

On NRHM as well, Rao details how it was grounded in UPA 2 after a prolonged battle with the Planning Commission, which seemed to be inching towards a model of privatisation of healthcare and lack of political direction from the very top.

On the economic and foreign policy front

On the economic front, experts believe the Modi government has been proactive in handling the crisis but has erred on three key fronts. Being bold and fast is not enough, says Merchant, it should have been sensible too. He lists the mistakes in detail:

a.   Imposing the three-week nationwide lockdown with effectively just 3.5 hours notice caused a near stampede-like situation at medical and grocery stores, violating every principle of social distancing. Instead, Modi should have given a four-day window to allow people to go to their workplace, pay bills, gather papers to work from home, complete all work requiring presence in the office and buy necessities.

b.   Public transport should have been shut after the four-day window, allowing migrant workers to reach their villages/towns safely but with restrictions on numbers of passengers per bus/train to avoid overcrowding.

c.   Modi government must increase the proposed stimulus of Rs 1.7 lakh crore for industry and workers by borrowing Rs 10 lakh crore. With interest rates at rock bottom, debt servicing on Rs 10 lakh crore at 4 per cent sovereign-backed rate would be Rs 40,000 crore a year, adding less than 0.2 per cent to the fiscal deficit. That’s easily manageable while industry and the poor get Rs 10 lakh crore or 5 per cent of GDP to recover quickly from this calamity.

On the foreign policy front, which was Manmohan Singh’s forte, currently, it is every nation for itself. This means that Modi’s latest initiative to have Indian embassies everywhere informing host countries about the measures the Indian government has undertaken, such as the three-week lockdown, and seeking transnational cooperation and collaboration in mitigating the effects of the coronavirus spread, will in the present inward-turned phase in international affairs result in no foreign policy gains, notes national security expert Bharat Karnad.

“The pity is that Modi’s earlier initiative roused the governments in South Asian states into joining a collective effort to deal with the pandemic, especially its economic consequences, which held far greater promise and potential for real, long term, strategic benefits for the country in terms of recovering a unitary policy space in the subcontinent, floundered for two reasons. First, because India walked open-eyed into the Kashmir trap laid by Imran Khan’s representative Zafar Mirza, at the SAARC ‘video summit’ called by Delhi. And second, because the $10 million that Modi announced as India’s contribution to fund a collective campaign to ride out the crisis was too small to matter, leave alone compete with China’s offers of immediate medical help and credit on easy terms,” says Karnad.

From left to right Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu, Sonia Gandhi, Narendra Modi and former PM Manmohan Singh | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
From left to right – Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu, Sonia Gandhi, Narendra Modi and former PM Manmohan Singh | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint

Also read: Doctors, nurses, paramedics, healthcare can be India’s new engine of growth after Covid-19

A shake-up 

With virologists predicting regular outbreaks of viruses, clearly health has to be put back on the agenda, from the very top to the very bottom. Repeating past mistakes will not be tolerated.

Modi has presided over calamities like the 2001 Gujarat earthquake, just as Singh did over the 2004 tsunami crisis. A good leader never lets a crisis go to waste. As Booker Prize winner Arundhati Roy recently wrote in the Financial Times, “Pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next.”

Modi can use the coronavirus pandemic as a portal for setting in place a new responsive and inclusive health administration that will serve Indians well even when there is no public health emergency.

A baby step could be to start with Harsh Vardhan.

Since India has the luxury of having a doctor as minister, one with a good track record of abolishing polio from Delhi and launching tough anti-smoking measures, perhaps Prime Minister Modi could begin by allowing him to not merely take charge but to be seen to be taking charge.

The author is a senior journalist. Views are personal.

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  1. Sir Mr Manmohan sinh was a literate , doctorate PM and IMF person, definately how Congress handled crisis,how Lal Bahadur Shastri handled crises he could have handled it.Definately for sure he will know that corona is a pandemic which is spread by china and not muslim.How can you compare a party bjp which is handled by the ban rss and on jati vad , casteism background ,During PM Manmohan himself a Sikh person was a PM and APZ kalam a scientist a rational not a puppet was a President .What you all think it’s Mr Modiji who decides ,the agenda is fixed by manuvadis..Just tell me atleast 10 real development ,that BJP did new development,giving lights to few lacs where already crores are living with light,giving gas connection where in a new refill is not done because of no money or poverty.Railways line extention of few kilometres where thousands of kilometer already there.
    New things..Just doing makeup on body is not the right answer..Chandrayan,MOM,nuclear test,2 parts of pakistan,SEZ special economic zone ,dams,schools,colleges,all before Mr Modiji honourable PM..Just authentic 10 progress.Now what India is growing is because of the platform built by Congress and other parties..Be’s known a religion person is always blind,but dear this is India a constitutional India not a religious place to fool people by astrology and in moksha name or karma fear.
    Just 10 achievers not Modijisaheb names in magazines or fake news .
    Practical examples with proof..see vibrant Gujarat because of Namaste Trump its side effects are seen now..

  2. MMS was a true bureaucrat . He was qualified good boy for his own sake , for his family and Gandhi’s. At the helm of things for a long time , yet did nothing to change Indian economy unless strongly prodded by IMF for a bail out in 1991.
    Never paid attention to healthcare . Just presided over a corrupt Sonia Gandhi dominated government . Author is a lackey and an apologist for MMS and Congress.

    • That’s with every author at Print. I am yet to read a balanced article on here. The Wire, Print, scoop whoop, Caravan are a congregation of far left bigots.

  3. In 2009, when H1n1 was in its peak. I had travelled from US to SE Asia to India, the only check that was done , someone has asked to declare if I have the virus or not & submit the form. There was no check absolutely. Ghulaam nabi azad was a disaster & i’m glad Modi is doing what is necessary. Now living in US, I realize the checks , tracking & methods India is taking is far better than the US & UK governments. Please give credit to MMS wherever he is due & stop trying to justify him everywhere , he had 10 years to overcome his flaws, he did not.

  4. Please give credit to the late PM Shri PV Narasimha Rao, only his vision in 1990s saved the country from the economic doom. He brought out millions from poverty. And it is the execution of ex PM Manmohan Singh who under the leadership of PM PVN, was able to execute the vision of PM PVN, which late PM Indira Gandhi ignored from 1960s, phew North Indians, do some homework before stating stupidity!!! I still don’t get PM Modi ignoring the daily wagers, many upper class professionals totally agree with me. It is so sad, with his PM power he could have cleared the people going HOME with private trains and buses. But NO he did not do it!!! Even though I am a moderate I do agree with some issues of BJP, but in this issue of the daily wagers, he severely neglected them!!! And do give credit to the late PM PVN, as PM Manmohan does!

    • But you are equally stupid in giving credit to PVNR for 1991 reforms. Congress party and bureaucrats never wanted to forego the power and cash which came with controls. Right , MMS. Was never the author of reform . Never in his earlier career the so called economist advocated reforms . But neither did PVNR. Reforms were imposed by IMF as a precondition to bail out the economy screwed up by Cuhongress and the likes of VP Singh.

  5. MMS would have been better than NAMO as equipped with more better intellectuals, technocrats , academics, open minds, whereas NAMO more busy in political games-MMS/he could have better managed the poor , transport services- things are not like BANING UTENSILS, DIYA JALAWO etc and PM any one will listen be it NAMO or MMS -any declaration by him , will be welcomed by public: anyway someone is always behind -in case of NAMO ‘RSS’ and MMS ‘SONIA’.

    • MMS was not independent in making decisions.A leader’s ability is tested by the power of making strong desicions which MMS absolutely lacked

  6. MMS policy softlanding with proper planning whereas Modi policy crash landing without doing any planned /groundwork before announced. Congress party pack of intellectuals whereas Modi cabinet pack of yes man army. Delegation of power to even cabinet ministers totally absence. Authotarian /despot regime present regime. De Mo nightmare not even consulted with FM Late Jaitley is shows one man show.

    • BJP has a one man show with hallow slogans trying to devide people on the basis of religion and cast. just to apease RSS based vote bank. Mere speaches without proper planning is going to.harm economy. Hete institons have been destroyed by cunningly focussing attention of people towards faslehood like desh druhis, Kashmiri exteremists, communists etc and now Jahadi.virus to acomplish illconcived RSS anti muslim agenda. Media is senselessly and shamelessly promoting such rubish. How can one make comparision between RSS worker with an intellectusl like Manmohan Singh.
      RSS workes with lathis in their hands are seen checking Id cards of people. Enough is enough they have noew taken charge to chase the virus with lathis.

  7. anti modi dallagiri as always by Print.
    comparing soniya’s mum pet with modi
    maunmohan had to ask his mistress even to pee twice in a day

  8. i wonder how much the author was paid to take on such a silly topic payment obviously being from the cronies. i am glad the author hasn’t gone back to blaming nehru and congress for the current state of affairs . obviously the authors vision is attracted as the plight of farmers particularly those producing fresh and perishables , the migrant labor crises which were all creations of slip shod ill thought out lock down . this has always been the case be it notebandi gst et al . finally to compare the two at a time when MMS can not respond (for he will not bother to read this trash). we need more balanced selection of articles and authors unless there is burning desire to join the bandwagon like most media channels

  9. The article is good. But the emphasis on quantity (less than 2.5 percent of GDP goes towards healthcare) rather than QUALITY of healthcare is misplaced. Both the Manmohan Singh and the Modi govts have not taken any steps to RATE the rotten eggs in the healthcare field or the health policy field. There is no strengthening of the REGULATORS, no increase in consumer cases related to medico legal cases which would have occured if the regulatory mechanisms such as the medical council of india, dental council of india, pharma council of india/drug controller/FDA/CDSCO, veterinary council of india, nursing council of india etc etc started having any teeth and the broken judicial system started being repaired. There has been no integration of the health ministry with the ayush deptt. The outstanding ayush experts don’t find any representation in the food and health ministries or in policy making or policy implementation. Dr Harsh Vardhan is neither an outstanding ALLOPATH nor does he seem to care for INTEGRATED medicine which encompasses the strengths of teh ayush fields of medicine. The Indian health system is a top down system getting all its policies and implementation okayed by the american organisation called the WHO. There is no sovereignity left in India. From testing kits to all medical technology and medical literature seems to be coming only from the west. The ayush people cannot communicate in english or via medical research journals. They are not mainstream and lip service has been paid to yoga and ayurveda by conducting once a year events like the world YOGA day. Good people and bad people and institutions are not PUBLICLY known and patronised or punished as teh case may be. Every medical emergency is automatically left to a few allopathic Institutions and allopathic doctors. Tools such as Radiology, immunology etc are not part of integrated medicine. Reform of the govt controlled healthcare and food ministries is not on the agenda. The present crisis is because of bad advisors and bad advice, A decisive prime minister has made a blunder by locking down too abruptly and without thinking of the fallacy that since allopaths cannot control the virus treatment outcomes, the epidemologist projection is the only possible scenario. The power of self help and education of humanity to do self preservation has not been part of the crisis management planning.

  10. I just came to comment section and now I can understand the kind of article written here. Thanks commenters. Paid journalism.

  11. What Modi has done so far? just asked people to clap and light candle? It’s anyone can ask to do it! It’s Doctors, nurses, District administrators who oversee patients and people movements. It’s everyone duty, collective responsibility of people to oblige.

  12. Those who are shouting against Manmoham Singhji became rich during his time.
    This so called rich upper middle class specially Gujjus who became exteremely rich cheated him once they became rich.
    During Modi’S time when they became rich, THEY became due to centre’s policies not because of Gujarat chief minister’s policies.
    What can a cheif minister do in financial terms?
    They all became rich during MMS time.
    They give credit to Modi

    • U must be die hard Congress Chamcha?Manmohan could not guide us or give us a speach explaining his role in Congress. Manmohan could not make up his own anyway because of Sonia and her gang.Good ridden Congress for Good.

      • Bhakts want to just hear, they don’t care about results!
        Rajiv Gandhi/Naraimha Rao/Manmohan Singh delivered in the digitisation era.
        So many institutes & research centres were built, where the current czars of the corporate world got educated.
        Be fair and don’t just evaluate on points that you are being dictated to think on!

        • Digital I ndia would not had been possible by anyone except Modiji.He supported digital India even when people were mocking it openly . congress lacked the powr of making decisions as they wanted to play along to the mood of the people

    • paise (ped per nahi ugte )maunmohan said
      ventilators per pahela haq musalmano ka hai maunmohan would have said.
      jisko mutne k liye bhi soniya se permission chahiye woh kya kar sake hai.

  13. Manmohan and his administration would have said that they dont have a magic wand and would have let the common people of India die into the hands of this crisis. I am proud that Narendra Modi is our PM in this crisis.

  14. I came here to comment against Manmaohan, Congress Party and the writer of this post but after reading comments of fellow readers, I am only going to appreciate people of India to elect Mr Modi and to overthrow Congress.

  15. Same journalists, same liberals, same so called sickulars and intellectuals favoured by Congress by largesse are writing articles with the same words to please the former rulers. MMS was a puppet in the hands of Gandhi’s. The real power was with that lady, even after 40 years stay in India who not able to speak without the piece of paper. If MMS was so successful economist, why there were so many scandals under his nose, why so many loans were disbursed on phone without sufficient co- laterals because of which the existence of many Indian banks are in danger zone. Mr. Modi may not be good economist but people believe him for his honesty. Whatever he does right or wrong does with zeal and tries ensure that the his welfare schemes reach the real needy people.

  16. Manmohan Singh would have given first right of ventilator to minorities to appease them even during such disastrous situation to impress his master and vote bank

  17. None of the upa supporters will ever talk of the rampant corruption during the upa era and always find faults with the present dispensation. By the way what constructive work is vadra organization doing for the covid situation

  18. What would have happened had MMS been in charge : All Relief materials would have been stamped with the “Nehru Gandhi” name; every medical mask,irrespective of where it got manufactured would have been with “the dynasty ” name. Crucial time would have been wasted in distribution because they need to ensure that every thing is branded with the dynasty name. They would have played religion politics and hence ensured that all religious places remain open and thus ensuring it would spread more. They would form a committee again with the family name which will submit its report after an year(for what the committee was formed – no one would have a clue). In the meantime, the congress cronies will stock all essential supplies thus creating a scarcity in market and ensure their coffers fill. Anything else, please feel free to add.

  19. Whatever qualities and attributes he may have had, (though not many were in evidence between 2004 and 2014) Manmohan Singh ‘allowed’ his image and his perception to be sullied by being regarded as a “Remote controlled PM”. He seemed slavish, meek and timid in any aspect where it came to Sonia Gandhi. The images on TV that showed them together at any function or interaction also were most unflattering to someone who was the Prime Minister of this country. He looked more a “Servant” carrying out orders, than a “Leader” taking on, and handling his responsibilities. The worst fall was of the image of “Impeccable Integrity”, that the media showered him with, but which crashed on 2G, CWG, Coal scandals, and Helicopter deal etc, He ought to have stood his ground when RG tore up his “Ordinance” in a press meet and called it “NONSENSE”, even as that Ordinance was on the table of the President of India ready for his signature.. What was left after ‘THAT’?

  20. No amount of retoric, propaganda and words will make India rich, except sound economic and social policies. The Congress is a liberal party whereas under Modi, BJP has become more right wing agressive populist party.

    Rationality, intelligence and high dissemination of knowledge does not come with arrogance and pride.

    No amount of populism, trade wars, agressive nationalism has made any country great. Nazi Germany should never be forgotten. Hitler initiated WW2 killing 50 million people worldwide, and got defeated by Russians. Large number of German women were raped in spoils of war.

    Religion is not going to save India. Religion will kill India. Hinduism cannot be the official state religion of Republic of India. There is not one ethnicity, race, skin color, language, religion, food in India. Each to his own and respect everyone in country.

    • Greatness of so called Manmohan Singh- who held some of the most influential/ prestigious posts related to the Indian Economy for a years (Chief Economic advisor/RBI Governor/Dy Chairman of Planning Commission/Minister of Finance/2 time PM of India). Yet, when he demitted the office (as PM of India in 2014) leaving India as the country with largest population living in poverty (More than 8cr- which is larger than current British population).
      Also, most of them are still criticizing about India’s pathetic health care system- Who is to be blamed for this????? Just a decade ruled BJP/ NDA or Congress which ruled India for more than 50 years.
      The Converts/ Mullas/ Sickulars always compare Modi with Nazi/ Hitler/Dictator- But they conveniently hide the truth that it was their beloved Indiraji (Indira Gandhi) who imposed emergency (to retain her power) was one of the world’s notorious dictator.
      I hail from the state of Kerala -where Christians enjoy immense socio-political clout. The Christian Missionary and Pastors are everywhere (with the support of politicians& church authority) in Kerala for religious conversion by using money and spreading fake holy stories of Jesus. They off course blatantly criticize Hinduism and make fun of Hindu rituals for no reason. Yet, these Christian Idiots are claiming to be secular and mock BJP/ RSS for Religious bigotry.
      Also, there is another community who are infamous for terrorism worldwide are also talks about secularism in Kerala- which I see most hilarious thing on the Planet (Whose, habit is to behead someone who criticize their religion- or at least chop their hands off)
      My brother who is a part time yoga instructor who always says Christians are reluctant to do “Surya Namaskar” citing it was against their religion- and same people give tall talks about religious tolerance (Some of them are not even accept “Prasaad” citing the very same reason )

  21. India would be second Italy under MMS for sure. Thanking Lord for making RESPECTED MODI AS our PM now when India is going through this Corona crisis.
    This author is a hatred monger.

    • Why would the author be a “hatred monger” – whatever the hell that phrase means ?

      And are you sure that the millions of migrants and daily wage earners who face starvation, disease and death whilst they trudge back to their ancestral villages would be “Thanking the Lord for your Respected Modi? ? And mind you, this is the second time that the Great Gujarathi has waged war on the poor. The last time that happened was in November 2016 when the Great Gujarathi and acclaimed Delhi University graduate in economics unleashed demonetisation on the nation.

      One wonders whether you are any different from the followers of the Nithyananda cult !

      PATHETIC !

  22. How would have MM(let’s say Congress) have handled the Covid 19 situation ? All relief materials would have been stamped with some Nehru Gandhi family name; Materials would not have been distributed without the “Nehru Gandhi Brand”. The relief material would not have reached on time ‘coz the infrastructure only started improving after one man took charge – Nitin Gadkari. Every medical mask will have the Nehru Gandhi family printed on them to show the world that “they alone are the saviors” . All places of would have remained op ‘coz they don’t have a spine to take a harsh stand and ensured the rapid spread of virus. If MM was in charge, the numbers would have quadrupled in a day. They would appoint a committee again with another dynasty name and come with a policy 1 year later by which time we all would be doomed.

    • Whilst you are fully entitled to love Modiji, Baba Asaram Bapu, Swami Nithyananda, Adani, Ambani, Pragya Thakur or any of these saffron goons, it is not your love of Modi that is the topic of discussion here.

      Given the lackadaisical response of the Central government run by the PM, the utter silence from the Home Minister and the sycophantic attitude to leadership that your middle class ilk exhibits, the topic is anything but out.

  23. It is foolish to compare Modi with a stalwart like Manmohan. It was Manmohan who toiled hard over the last 30 years to build the Indian Economy. Modi destroyed it within a span of 3 years. The name “Modi” is synonymous with destruction. Every policy he implemented went haywire. Even his own subordinates have been extremely displeased with him, and when they voiced their opinions, they were promptly sacked. The BJP bootlickers may go all out to defend their ignoble leader on social media. But the people know the truth. The latest in the line of debacles is the PM Cares Fund. After receiving crores and crores of money from celebrities and the general public, all Modi did was to make an Android App ! We wonder where all the remaining money went.

    • It is nothing short of tragic for India that MMS was ever the PM and that a person such as Sonia attained power. Both are actual and metaphorical symbols of an bygone era of corruption, crony capitalism and an utter disregard for the country or its civilizational heritage. Both see India through colonial eyes.

      • But you skirt Mr Sanjeev’s point above. When MMS left the reins of the government to the Gujaratis, there was nearly 7.4% GDP growth, remittances and balance of payments were healthy, inflation was relatively manageable , exports were healthy. The country had largely weathered the 2008 financial crisis without much adverse shocks. Yes, high levels of liquidity in banks led to profligate lending, the corruption under the UPA was egregious, the Gandhi family held the reins of power and so on. But innocent Muslims were not lynched and somehow, the many fissiparous forces in the country were held in check by MMS.

        Fast forward to 2020. GDP growth has plummetted to 4.7%, demonetisation dealt a body blow to the informal economy which is yet to recover, GST added more troubles to the economy, jobless growth increased and inequality has become entrenched. For instance, the leather industry where India had a fantastic share of the export market is gone due to cow slaughter bans; the beef industry likewise. All over the country, Muslims fear for their lives and many get lynched for no reason. India’s many sleeping dogs have been awakened.

        And on top of all that, we have this callous treatment of migrant workers who have to walk back home, hungry and unwanted in Modistan. Bu then, as Mr Sanjeev states, dissent and opposition is not permitted in Modistan and you can pay for it with your life.

        Welcome to Modistan 2020 !

        • I would rather lived in Modistan any day than Manmohanistan .
          Your partisan fact-free rants are repetitive .
          You need some original angles “……..

    • Well. You got all that money! Why do you now grumble? Now these pen,-,pushers turned savvy byte bugs have no work. They have to weave the king’s robes. But Kaveree Bamzai has written a good one.

  24. Run the nation with brain, or run the nation with mouth for the lack of having a brain. Unfortunately, people fall for the latter, as it’s more appealing to them, maybe? Ah well. You can only have pity for these type of people.

    India (1947 to 2014).

    • Well said ! Unfortunately there is a shocking lack of common sense which has been becoming worse ever since 2014.

    • People with so called brain and western education, looted the country right and left for the last sixty odd years. After seventy years , still half the people do not have access to clean drinking water and electricity, and toilets was a luxury.

  25. Congress would have exploited the situation to the full & would have bankrupted India. Even thought of spineless, shameless man like MMS
    as PM in this crucial moment makes me shudder. His Party would have made maximum profit through Black marketing drugs, essential items & mismanagement. Under MMS if this scenario came Even Maldives & Srilanka could walk over & stomped on us. Now China & America are trying to be in best terms with Modi.

    • It is really a nightmare to thing what would have happened under MMS. That Dehati Aurat, so feeble and gutless would have stood at the door of SG for every step to take. As regards institutions and systems in democracy, they are proved to be time consuming and corrupt. It was MMS ministers minting thousand crores and our Raincoat PM asking for innocence. For India, where we have huge portion of population staying in rural and semi urban places, they need a direct approach. Modi is best suited for that. GDP growth is hampered everywhere in the world and as our economy is very widely opened up now, as compared to MMS time, we are going to get repurcussions. Politically, economically and globally, India has emerged as a super power under Modi. Mr. mMS had no guts even to reply the remarks of Nawaz as DehatiWoman. Modi has turned railway coaches in emergency wards, which could have otherwise be used by MMS ministers as green acres of corruption. Thank God that MMS has gone and we have Modi. We atleast see some light at the end of the tunnel.

  26. Author typically tries secularist method. Claims all ideas are from Congress. But forget to add they were ideas only, never implemented. May be he can claim China success on Nehru, because Nehru advocated family planning ,while Mao was against it, but later Chinese leadership adopted family planning.

  27. Useless analysis.
    Different people,different approaches and different issues.
    Out of all,comparing H1N1 to Corona is totally wrong.

  28. What the author this article forget in his stupidity is that the people of India junked a damn squip of a PM in 2014 and opted for Modi precisely to have someone with an assertive quality.

    • Well, there is a fine line between being assertive and authoritarian. And Modi is clearly the latter. And when you are authoritarian, the “advantages” of a Delhi University education emerge don’t actually emerge dothey Mr Anil Tiwari ? After all, the great Gujarati knows more economics than the combined knowledge of Raghuram Rajan, Arvind Subramanian, Urjit Patel doesn’t he ? And learns from the “successes” of previous forays like demonetisation doesn’t he ?

      Oops, I forget that the fawning middle classes regard the great Gujarathi as someone infallible …

      • and the Mallus are the worst parasites of earth! they are the one who brought the CORONA VIRUS into INDIA!

  29. Kaveeree superb article and extremely well researched. You have rightly psycho analysed the two great personas of Indian history in recent times. Excellent analysis. A well-balanced article, you have truly inherited the India Today tradition of just and fair journalism. Under no influence from anyone. Fair judgemental analysis. At this time when the nation is passing through its darkest hour, we need more articles like this to boost morale of the public. TRPs are not the need of the hour but accurate reporting. God bless you kaveree, I know Bamzai, a good friend, who helped me a lot when I was in the corporate world. TN Ashok, Ex Economics Editor PTI, Ex Communications & Strategic Affairs consultant to Country President of $ 23 Billion Alstom group of companies (France) .

  30. Under MMS, the Muslims would have had a free run to spread the virus throughout India, without anyone having the ability to even question them. And MMS would have said “the Tablighis have the first claim on the medical resources of the nation”.

    • On what basis do you make that brilliant observation:

      “Under MMS, the Muslims would have had a free run to spread the virus throughout India”

      Or were you merely under the influence of TASMAC products ?

  31. The past is history. The future no one has seen. So it is safer to focus on the present. The state of the economy, the quantity and quality of healthcare facilities as they gear up to face this terrible pandemic. India’s place in the world, at least partly reflected in its coverage in global media. There is also the enormous apparatus of the state at three levels of governance, which cannot be represented or fully controlled by an individual, however powerful, charismatic or popular.

  32. First never compare anyone if you think Manmohan Singh as PM would be disastrous if he was ruling till now may be and what if he could have achieved and made India better place with high GDP he would have made INDIA a better super power till now may be he could achieved High GDP of 14 % or more as his doctorate degree in FINANCE with right measures could have made INDIA at no. 1 position and now in CORONA crisis he would have emerged as better in the world who knows So dear author when you compare one also give the possibilities what we have missed because of lazy or immature steps of MODI government to tackle Financial equity markets crisis. Cover all the possibilities sir.

    • A little less democracy would have done good for the health of an average Indian. Just look at Singapore.

  33. What if coronavirus crisis had hit India under Manmohan Singh, not Modi.
    Success if any would have gone to SONIA, screw-up would be MM which he would have gladly accepted.
    Singh was a quiet power — driven by institutions and systems which helped him remain in the rain-coat.
    But leadership is more than just impressive personality traits and cult following. Democracy is all about the work of building institutions and the people who run it – that is where shit hit the fan, with people fixing their near and dear ones in well paid positions, a lot of prominent departures of the shining faces on TV need a little background check. As far as the institutions are concerned the less said the better, because they were designed allow the money making by both the politicians and Babus with a bunch of Dalals.
    The reason a majority respond to a call by Modi to Thali and Butti beause of the trust that this man will neither steel nor allow a theft. Making a mistake he is human, if he makes one he will learn from it. IT IS THE NIYAT that matters.

    • ” .. leadership is more than just impressive personality traits and cult following”

      Pontificates Mr Vijay Galande, himself a member of the cult of the Great Gujarathi !!!!

  34. Please do not waste your time on a hypothetical question. MMS would have asked SG as to what should be done? She would have consulted RG. Please do not scare the county any more.

    • In Manmohan Ji’s time swine flu (H1N1) created similar kind of panic in the country. Team MMS successfully dealt with the problem.

      • How many people died world over due to H1N1? And how many countries shut their operations totally and for how long? Please educate us.

    • “MMS would have asked SG as to what should be done”

      Forgotten that Modi does what Amit Shah & Mohan Bhagwath tell him ?

  35. Though it’s a good piece, it seems to have lost its way in the middle. Lines comparing Manmohan style and Modi style of handling a pandemic are very few. It could have been split into two instead. One article totally focusing on how Manmohan Sarkar would have handled this situation and how different would it be from Modi Sarkar. Second one focusing on how important it is to improve health care system in India and how it can be done drawing lessons from Manmohan Sarkar.

  36. Ouch. This article is just to criticize Modi and takeaway the credit. Not even a small thing is attributed to him in this fight. If that is not bias. What it is .

    I completely disagree with three points by Merchant. It is said with insincerity.

  37. It would have been disastrous. Tablig e jamaat would have been treated as VIP. Rent seeking journalist would have blamed HINDUS and would have resulted to large scale arrests of Hindus. Left leaning terrorist and jihadist would have controlled economy by running large scale black marketing of essential goods. AND RENT SEEKING JOURNALIST WOULD BE LIVING IN FIVE STAR HOTELS. ISO being staying at home and going crazy with a feeling of being useless as is happening right now

  38. I voted BJP. But one big difference I find is that Dr. Mammohan Singh could be criticized and any suggestion contrary to his policy could be voiced. Now, utter a word against any policy of Modi Ji, make any suggestion – and you get abused in the most disgusting Hindi (mother /sister) abuses. That’s a difference inadvertently ignored in the article.
    Jai Hind

  39. Wrong analysis, why you all always consider metro people as India… You people never consider those who do not have access to TV and mobiles. What about migrants who migrated during lockdown…. India is not all about cities… India lives in villages, labours, poor people,

  40. For once, and for a change, her article is not abusive of Modi. Good. Even journalists can be balanced, some times. As regards use of health care machinery set up during UPA regime by Modi government, is there anything to be ashamed or embarrassed about? Governments, inspite of change of ruling party, by and large offer continuity of policy. Changes may take place in Finance, Defence, Foreign Relations etc. Which government needs to health care policy for the sake of politics? A naive criticism.

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