“Manmohan Singh was not a weak Prime Minister but a diffident prime minister,” former union minister and senior Congress leader Manish Tewari said here on Monday.
Tewari, who is the Congress spokesperson and the former Lok Sabha member from Ludhiana, was in conversation with the Tribune’s editor-in-chief Harish Khare, at the launch of his book ‘Decoding a Decade’ at Panjab University in Chandigarh.
“The book is essentially a compilation of articles I wrote at various points in time between 2006 and 2016,” he told HT. “I have tried to put the columns together thematically so that it tells the story of the tumultuous decade.”
In one chapter, he talks of ‘politics’ of the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC). “When the bill was tabled, I wrote how flawed the entire NJAC process was and finally it was struck down by the Supreme Court,” the lawyer-politician said.
Tewari’s book also traverses international issues (like India’s relationship with the US and the “problem called Pakistan”) as also regional issues like how Punjab “deteriorated due to lack of governance”.
The author posed questions like, ‘Why India as a state is a wimp when it comes to dealing with terrorism? Would the recent operations be able to deal with a problem called Pakistan? Was President Pratibha Patil who commuted the death sentence of 19 prisoners and rejected the mercy petitions of only three diffident about capital punishment for religious reasons?
Manish Tewari’s mother Dr Amrit Tewari was present on the occasion along with senior officials from the Chandigarh administration.
Universities need to generate own revenue
Tewari, meanwhile, said universities should find their own ways to generate revenue, instead of depending entirely on the government, as they come with their own agenda.
In order to raise the level of discourse and functioning at universities, there was a need to reform the fee structure, he said.
“It is uncomfortable, controversial. Sometimes universities have to find ways to raise the revenue. University cannot be 100% depended on the government and if you are, then the government has its own agenda and there’s a tendency to push that political agenda,” said Tewari.
He said universities do not want to talk about reform in its fee structure. “It is absolutely a tragedy. I pay 100 times less fee for my daughter who studies in Delhi University than what I paid for her school fee,” Tewari said.
“In Delhi today, the rate of bus pass is the same as it was in 1971. Hence, these are difficult questions, which need to be addressed. We are striving for economic independence. A large part of independence comes out of universities generating their own revenue.”