Read the passage carefully and solve the questions that follow. (Exercise Solving time: 5 minutes)
Indians have been wondering whom to blame for the paralysis that has afflicted their government for the last two years. Time magazine’s cover picture of Manmohan Singh, captioned “The Underachiever”, seems to have made up their minds for them. But granted that Dr. Singh is not a natural leader can one ever, justifiably, pin the blame for the collapse of an entire governmental system on a single person?
In Dr. Singh’s case we need to look all the harder for other explanations because he is the same person who piloted a painless transition from a command to a market economy and, a decade later, brokered the coalition with Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s People’s Democratic Party — in the teeth of opposition from the Indian intelligence agencies — that gave the Kashmiris the first government they felt they could call their own. This began the marginalisation of militant separatism in the Valley.
Equally important are the things Dr. Singh prevented from happening. In 2001, the United States responded to 9/11 by invading Afghanistan. In 2002, the NDA responded to the abortive terrorist attack on Parliament by mobilising three quarters of a million soldiers on the Pakistan border. In 2008, Dr. Singh responded to 26/11 by resisting every demand from an enraged public to hit back at Pakistan, and continued to do so even after the terrorists’ phone calls revealed the role of the Inter-Services Intelligence in the attack.
History has vindicated his restraint. The U.S. is stuck in a quagmire from which it has yet to extricate itself; Operation Parakram gained a diplomatic victory for India, but asking the army to mobilise fully for a war that the political leaders never intended to wage sowed the seeds of distrust in the military that have weakened civilian control over it. By contrast, the present warming of relations between our two countries would never have begun had Dr. Singh not exercised extraordinary forbearance in 2008.
Add to all these his authorship of the proposal to resolve the Kashmir dispute by softening and eventually erasing the Line of Control that found favour with President Pervez Musharraf, and the India-U.S. nuclear agreement, and his place in history should have been secure.
Why then is it so much in doubt? The sole answer is the striking contrast between the effectiveness of the first UPA government and the ineffectiveness of the second. Failing to find any other explanation, most analysts have concluded that the change must lie in Dr. Singh himself. However seductive it is to believe that changing the Prime Minister will solve all our problems, the truth is that it will change nothing. The explanation is to be found in the growing dysfunctionality of our political system. UPA-II just happens to be in power when it has come to a head.
A clue to where the problem lies is the fact that nearly all of Dr. Singh’s successes lie in the realm of foreign policy. In this respect, Indian democracy is beginning to resemble the American more and more. Harold Laski may have been the first to note, in his definitive analysis of the American presidency three quarters of a century ago, that the absence of strict party discipline and the ubiquity of cross-voting in the U.S. Congress severely limited the power of the President to pass domestic legislation. It took a crisis of the dimension of the Great Depression of the 1930s to enact the New Deal. It was, therefore, only in foreign policy that U.S. Presidents had been able to exert their full authority.
Dr. Singh has been suffering from a similar liability. During UPA-I, India’s GDP was growing at almost 9 per cent and there was a palpable sense of well-being in the country. The challenges he faced were therefore mostly in the realm of foreign relations, and on related issues like Kashmir. Even during that period, consensus on domestic issues was conspicuous by its absence. The business community frequently expressed the disappointment that Dr. Singh was unable to reform the labour laws and open up key sectors like retail trade and insurance to foreign investment. But since the Congress depended for its survival on the Left, which had never hidden its opposition to these reforms, people did not have to look any further for the causes of its paralysis.
Which of the following ideas the author would agree with?
1) Mr. Manmohan Singh is an underachiever.
2) Dr. Singh is only interested in solving foreign problems.
3) Harold Laski identified shortcomings in the American Presidency.
4) The consensus on domestic issue which existed during UPA I is missing in UPA II.
5) One main reason for the failure of UPA-II is the dysfunctional political system as a whole.
6) Robust GDP growth veiled some of the problems during UPA I.
7) Aggression of US against terrorism was much better than the restrain shown by Dr. Singh.