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"Take time to deliberate; but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go in."
- Napoleon Bonaparte

Congress must not waste this mandate!

I was happy to see the possibility of a stable government which is essential to provide a clear direction to our country in these times of economic uncertainty. Though my party has taken a beating in this election, but I was happy nonetheless and hoped that Congress will use this mandate to push forward the economic and inclusive development agenda, given that they will not have worry about the left and opportunistic allies.

However, the drama which unfolded prior to and during government formation is worrying me. DMK washed their dirty family linen in public and shamelessly jockeyed for ministerial births for family members. They also made brazen attempts to include inefficient ministers who had serious corruption allegations against them. Balu and Raja were amongst the worst performing ministers in the previous government. National Highway program was brought to a halt under inefficient Balu and Raja gave away GSM spectrum causing huge revenue loss to the exchequer.

I had hoped that Mr. Manmohan Singh will not relent to pressure tactics of DMK and will keep such non-performers out of the cabinet, but that wasn't to be. Raja is back with a bang in the same ministry. We all can only hope that PM will make him perform this time around.

Another disturbing aspect of this cabinet is it's dynastic nature. One in every 4 minister comes from a political family and has been accommodated to placate the father, uncle or mother. Nothing wrong in having capable MPs as ministers who happen to come from political families, but making them ministers because they come from political families certainly does not augur well for efficiency and accountability.

One family inclusion, which I am happy about, is young Agatha Sangma, daughter of NCP leader and ex-speaker Mr. P Sangma. A 28 year old becoming a minister is a good first step towards inducting young and energetic MPS into the government. As MoS in Rural Development Ministry, I sincerly hope that she performs well. I would like her pay special attention to the development of the North East and set a good example for other young MPs who aspire to become ministers.

Arjun Singh and Shivraj Patil's exclusion are certainly worth mentioning and PM must be congratulated for doing the right thing.

We hope that HRD Ministry under Kapil Sibbal will bring about fundamental change in the mindset of HRD ministry mandarins. Access and Quality continue to be the major challenges as far as Primary Education is concerned. In higher education, we have been trying to maintain the quality by controlling the supply side, which is counter intuitive in this era of open and competitive economy. Hope Foreign Universities are allowed entry to India and are encouraged to offer quality education given that huge number of our bright students struggle to go abroad for education putting tremendous financial strain to their parents.

Another area of concern has been stalled infrastructure projects. Under Kamalnath, we hope that this sector get required policy direction and time-bound delivery of infrastructure projects is ensured.

Finance ministry has got an able administrator and hopefully they will be able to push ahead with pending reforms given that left will no longer be breathing down their neck.

Judicial reforms, police reforms and internal security overhaul are other areas of concern.

Overall, Dr Singh has done a reasonable job of picking his ministers and now we look forward to results. First 100 days will give a fairly good idea on where they are headed. Lets hope they deliver and don't disappoint the electorate who have voted for a stable and performing government.

RK

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