Thursday, July 14, 2011

Manmohan's Cabinet Reshuffle vs. Chanakya's Prescriptions

No clear message, declares Times of India.
The wrong message, clarifies The Hindu.
An exercise in futility by rudderless PM, observes The New Indian Express
Reshuffle, collapse predicts Indian Express.
Wholesale condemnation from Print Media!
TV Channels (like the predictable NDTV) have been more charitable.

But generally the reshuffle has not gone well with the media. Not fair. Since when have they stopped seeing positives in every move or absence of move (Remember the famous quote of PC “Not taking action is also an action”) of UPA?

I, for one, am quite satisfied with the reshuffle. Let me explain why.

Arthashastra is an amazing book written by Chanakya around 320 BC- contains 15 adhikaranas or volumes and around 6,000 verses. It’s like the constitution of a country, dealing with a variety of subjects- rights and duties of Govt, and citizens, composition of King’s council of ministers, Defense, Foreign Affairs, civil and criminal procedure code, etc.  So important is the Council of Ministers to Chanakya that he describes extensively the traits, qualities of ministers in the 1st adhikarana itself and….

Hold your breath…..

Sonia-Manmohan combine has followed Chanakya’s prescriptions religiously!

Unable to believe? Read on.
Chanakya advises in Chapter 8 of 1st adhikarana that the king (Sonia-Manmohan combine) should take into account the competence of the person while appointing/ retaining him as a minister. Take for instance S M Krishna, the “competent” External Affairs Minister who went on reading Portuguese Minster’s speech in UN meeting, blissfully unaware that his country was India! India’s affairs were “external” to the Minister! Sonia-Manmohan duo rewarded his faithful adherence to “external affairs”.

Chidambaram’s “competence” is no less. Anyone has forgotten how he gave a list of 50 most wanted criminals from Pakistan, half of whom were in India, how he lied about the case against P J Thomas in the meeting with PM and Sushma, how it has become impossible to hoist national flag in J&K?

The Ministers should commence all those jobs which have not yet been done, continue to implement those which are in progress and improve on those which have been completed say verses 51 and 52 of chapter 15 of adhikarana 1. Dayanidhi Maran sold for a low price spectrum to Aircel after the “new owners” adequately compensated his family. Andimuthu Raja continued and improved on what Dayanidhi had started in UPA 1- sold at record throw away prices spectrum to Swan,Duck, Crocodile and what not! Then came Kapil Sibal, who commenced that which had not been done earlier- waived penalties for Rcom!

Anyone doubts that Sonia-Manmohan did not follow arthashastra???

Ha…yes! I am a little concerned ( so would Sonia-Manmohan combine be, I believe) about the diminishing “competence” (the first mentioned trait) of Kapil Sibal. A few months back he taught us that Rs. 1.76 lakh crore was equal to zero! But now he seems to be content with Rs. 650 cr being equal to Rs. 5 cr!

Kautilya quotes Vishalaksha as saying that the King can appoint his associates in secret activities. Ahmed Patel-Sanjay Gandhi spotted him; Rajiv Gandhi developed him; Sonia Gandhi’s chief strategist. Has anyone heard of his name except in telephonic negotiations of Nira Radia with reputed journalists? Any guess as to whose associate he could be in secret activities? However Kautilya cautions that such a minister can blackmail the King and the King should keep a watchful eye on him. Is Kautilya giving message to someone?

A king can choose a person because of his “proven loyalty”. Jayanti Natarajan- Does anyone know her for anything other than loyalty? So powerful is her loyalty, that it has effortlessly displaced Jairam Ramesh’s achievements! (Of course I am happy she has become a Minsiter; thank god, we will see less of her in TV debates! For the same reason, I would like Manish Tewari and Abishesk Manusinghvi also to be Ministers.)

Persons from Ministerial families are the next category of Ministers, recommended by Chanaky. So what if Murli Deora had to resign in the wake of KG Basin scam allegations? His son has been rewarded! Cabinet berth is their ancestral property.

Of course that Sonia-Manmohan combine could have done better. Chanakya, for instance says that a king, depending on the needs, can have 1000 ministers like Indra. Manmohan Singh, poor guy, has only 80 ministers. Still a long way to go!

But in some respects, the Sonia-Manmohan combine has gone beyond Chanakya’s prescriptions. They have introduced the concept of reservations- 2 cabinet berths have been reserved for DMK. Karunanidhi can fill them up at his convenience! There is a positive side to this also. Consider this. A Raja took charge of telecom ministry in May-2007. In Jan-2008 he sold the spectrum. Rs. 1.76 lac crores in about 8 months- a monthly run rate of Rs. 22, 000 cr! Every additional month Karunanidhi takes to fill in these positions, Indian state will be wealthier by Rs. 22,000 cr!

I wonder why the media did not consider these positives before dismissing the reshuffle as useless.


  1. What an article. Loved the analysis and analogies. A very balanced take on the issue spelling some of my observations too. Only if I could put them to word like this. Happy to have clicked the link thru Indivine's forum. Keep reflecting.

  2. god job... keep it up...
    one more thing.. you mention the king as "sonia-manmohan combine", but i think the king should be sonia where as maunmohan (oh! sorry typo)-manmohan should be excluded from the king combine.

    esp like thepart for the "External" minister thing.

  3. Thanks for your comments. Will keep writing.