The Silent PM

Sep 16, 2012, 07:17 IST | Rahul da Cunha

My beloved Amul client, Dr Kurien passed away last week.

My beloved Amul client, Dr Kurien passed away last week. He was a man who never compromised his entire life; a man with the greatest integrity. And so the obvious question demands an answer. Where are such men today? Well, one of them is trying to lead our country, if only he was allowed to.

Dr Verghese Kurien and Dr Manmohan Singh had some similarities. Both doctors. Both visionaries. Both geniuses. Both successfully endeavoured to make the country liquid — one in milk, one in money.

Both quiet men — except Dr Kurien shouted quietly. Dr Manmohan Singh is just quiet. And I’m asking, why doesn’t our PM just say something, say anything. Barack Obama in comparison talks and tweets on everything. The entire universe knows his views on love, on leukemia, on Libya, on Le Bron James.

Illustration/ Amit Bandre

In cricket terms, great players are often judged by how their captains handled them. The same is true in politics. Narasimha Rao brought out the best in Dr Singh. Together they set liberalisation in motion in 1991.

And so it pisses me off when the foreign press calls him an underachiever, a tragic figure. The Washington Post never picked on previous Prime Ministers like Chandrashekar or even Morarji Desai. Sadly, India was a nation of ‘sadhus and snake charmers’ then. Now that India is sexy, and the flavour of the century, her leader’s every move is dissected.

And I’m thinking, sir, talk on behalf of us, defend yourself, rave, rant. Why are you under Sonia’s thumb ? Has she forced you to remain quiet? How do you really feel about Rahul? How do you feel about being the most honest man in one of the most dishonest governments ever? Are you livid, are you sad, are you fed up, are you excited? What are your passions? Are you waiting for the agony to end? How do you feel about Adarsh? About 2G? About Coalgate? About Anna? About Baba Ramdev? About your two terms? About coalition governments?

It can’t be easy have had some of those partners albatrossed around your neck. Man, I would’ve snapped by now. And you are genial as ever! Are you the consummate actor? Or do you have voodoo dolls of every villain in your cabinet?  Is yours a silent movie? A mime show? What signs should we look for? Are you happy going to work? When are you confused? Exhausted? What’s your emotional legacy?

Nehru was flamboyant, Indira was tough, Narasimha was canny, VP Singh was outspoken, Vajyapee was cerebral. How will history judge you, Dr Singh ? Do you want to be remembered as the weak one? How can a man who liberalised India, be called an underachiever?

But as we learn in life, you’re only as good as your last achievement. India is burning, and while you’re not fiddling, you are twiddling. Let history judge you well, sir. Be remembered as a financial whiz, not the silent PM.

Rahul da Cunha is an adman, theatre director/playwright, photographer and traveller. Reach him at

The views expressed in this column are the individual’s and don’t represent those of the paper.

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