Continuity in governance seems to be the message, going by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s 19 Union Cabinet appointments. Some may feel that we are seeing many of the old faces back in action. Equally many will feel comforted that we have experienced hands at the wheel. There are several challenges ahead. The economy needs urgent attention. To that end, it is heartening that there is a seasoned person like Pranab Mukherjee at the helm. Another worrisome factor is the severe disruptions in our neighbourhood. The Sri Lankan conflict has ended, but the rehabilitation of hundreds of thousands of Tamil civilians remains a sticking point. The influx of refugees into Tamil Nadu could again prove to be a potentially explosive issue, something that both the External affairs minister and the home minister will need to address. The situation in Pakistan seems to be snowballing by the day and again will require deft diplomacy and internal vigilance on the part of India. Nepal is in chaos and will require calibrated diplomacy in the coming days.
Our agricultural sector has been in the doldrums for some years now and infrastructure remains a source of concern. To that end, the PM has inducted people with experience and public acceptance into key ministries. However, given the changing demographics of India and the fact that this mandate was also overwhelmingly for fresh thinking in governance, we can only hope that the composition of the ministers of state will reflect this sentiment. In the past, ministers of state were seen rather than heard. Today, with the vast pool of young talent that has been elected, it would be disappointing if they did not play are more prominent role. For they are the change-makers that India needs. They have the unique opportunity to learn at the hands of the people who have taken over the top slots. They would also do well to reflect on the missed opportunities of the past and engage in some introspection and course correction.
We have seen that the electorate today is an unforgiving one. There are great expectations of this government that is a healthy mixture of experience and enthusiasm. All efforts must be made by this government to ensure that the new lease of life that a once jaded political system has got is not frittered away.