by Mahesh Vijapurkar Sep 30, 2012 19:43 IST
Indian Customs seems to have an obsession. They wait for The Economist and pounce on it and ensure that any map of the Indian sub-continent which shows the line of actual control between India and Pakistan is obliterated. A black patch is the stuff they use, as they did in its September 29-October 5th edition. It cost The Economist nearly half a page worth of space.
The magazine said, “Sadly India censors maps that show the current effective border, insisting instead that only its full territorial claims be shown. It is more intolerant on this issue than either China or Pakistan.” Indian readers can access the website and see what the censors had covered.
This, however, is only an aside. For, the same publication carried much more offensive stuff that ought to rile the Indian ruling elite, especially the Congress. It could well be an honest assessment by The Economist, but it has said things that should have the party spokespersons frothing at the mouth, and dominating every television channel.
The point made in a leader – an editorial is that for The Economist - titled In search of a dream on India was that “These people”, meaning Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi, and Rahul Gandhi “are hindering India’s progress, not helping it. It is time to shake of the past and dump them”. This is strong stuff after the TIME’s ‘underachiever ‘tag to Manmohan Singh, The Independent dubbing him a poodle.
The Economist itself had questioned his leadership earlier, and has returned to the theme, that “he is anyway a bureaucrat at heart, not a leader”. Then turning its attention to the Nehru-Gandhi gharana, and turning on all its cylinders, it stated, “The remnants” of the “dynasty to whom many Indian still normally turn, are providing no leadership either.”
“Maybe because they do not have it in them, maybe because they have too much at stake to abandon the old, failed vision”. The “shadowy president” of the party “shows enthusiasm for welfare schemes, usually named after a relative, but not for job-creating reforms. “If” Rahul Gandhi, the heir-apparent “understands the need for a dynamic economy, there’s no way of knowing it, for he never says anything much”.
It advocated “dumping” them because the country needed politicians who see the direction it should take – free market, reforms, of which The Economist has been and is a fierce advocate – and “understand the difficult steps required’, “the journey itself would be worthwhile.” Hanging on to the past, it suggested, India was missing the bus.
It has much more to say in the 14-page special report, the cover title being Áim Higher – The cover page of the edition has the headline India: in search of a dream – that the economy had worsened and Pranab Mukherjee, the earlier finance minister was “booted upstairs to become President.
It blames the babus hold back the economy by not taking decisions. They “work to rule” No “civil servant is remotely interested in pushing something along”.
The Congress which the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty “holds together” “lacks much ideology beyond broad secularism” and helps to settle “leadership spats” in the party but “matters less and less to the voters”. The Gandhis “look uprooted”.
Seems but for the routine work by the Indian Customs, others have chosen to remain quiet as a response. Perhaps, by now it is routine to get bad international press.
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