Nothing like an internal spat to rev things up for the outside public. Planning Commission Deputy Chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia is an integral part of the ‘Modern India, let’s go!’ team, his colours matching those of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh perfectly. Road Transport Minister Kamal Nath isn’t too bad himself, considering that in his earlier incarnation as commerce minister, he proved to be the knight in shining armour whenever World Trade Organisation organisers needed a dekho. But, er,
Mr Ahluwalia and Mr Nath are — oh dear — fighting. What does 21st century India do?
For one, we should get into a serious debate about who’s holding whom back. The truth is that the ‘accountants’ — “Accountants are not people who build roads but you cannot build roads without having decent accounts” — in Mr Ahluwalia’s words, are as essential for India’s future as Mr Nath’s “armchair advisors”. For too long, India has survived with the twain never meeting — undulatory roads being built without consequences and Nehruvian Five Year plans without planners and schemers being involved at the ‘ground level’.
For us, sitting on the sidelines, the beauty is to see two people on the same side behaving as if they aren’t. Mr Nath got worked up and accused the Planning Commission of being a “bunch of armchair advisors”. Even as we take offence to that description — because we are the arm chairest of all arm chair advisors — we must insist that Mr Nath understand that to every yin there is a yang. Governmentally, that means, two sides of the same coin hanging out and agreeing. Which doesn’t mean that it doesn’t make good entertainment for the proverbial ‘outside public’. We do understand the sticky situations within a joint family situation. So...