Welcome Back to Government, Mr. SM Krishna!

[This piece was written before the allocation of portfolios. SM Krishna has now been appointed as the Foreign Minister of India]

Mr. SM Krishna, Foreign Minister of India

Mr. SM Krishna, Foreign Minister of India

Today, I am elated to learn that Sonia Gandhi has finally decided to rehabilitate SM Krishna to his rightful place in the power hierarchy. He could well make a mark as India’s Foreign/Commerce Minister (whichever is eventually offered to him), what with his vision for technology, reformist mindset and more importantly, having a better understanding than most in the Congress party of India’s emerging place in the new global order — be it globalization or the war on terrorism.

My secret wish is to see him at the helm of Foreign Ministry, enlightening Barack Obama why shipping Bangalore’s jobs to Buffalo would spell doom to Silicon Valley, CA. Of course, I am mindful that I have no voice in 10, Janpath. It is a no-brainer that he’ll get along well with Hillary Clinton given his polished and suave personality and openly-expressed admiration for her husband. I’m not so sure how he’ll deal with China or Pakistan, but he deserves a chance to prove himself on the world stage.

Let me give you a quick brief about SM Krishna, for those of you not aware of him. He was the Chief Minister of my native state Karnataka in the early 2000’s. Karnataka, and especially Bangalore, was fortunate to have such a personality during the height of DotCom boom across the world. He brought global attention to the then-sleepy and unknown city of Bangalore overnight. Bangalore boomed as the Silicon Valley of India, creating IT jobs for youth from every nook and corner of the country. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that he is single-handedly responsible for what we know of Bangalore today — for others who occupied Karnataka CM’s chair before and after him have done precious little; some have even actively engaged in destroying the good image of the city. While there is some merit to the argument that his focus on Bangalore came at the cost of rural development, one cannot deny that Bangalore’s economy has had a spill-over effect on Hyderabad and other second-rung cities like Mysore, Mangalore, and rural Karnataka.

After Krishna’s defeat in Karnataka Assembly 2004, the treatment meted out to him over the last five years, on the pretext of keeping Deve Gowda and his rivals in Karnataka Congress mollified, was quite unbecoming of Congress High Command. He was demonized for being ‘elite’ and ‘urbane’, and made solely responsible for the defeat. As a punishment, he was unceremoniously dispatched to Mumbai’s Raj Bhavan — despite his clear indication that he had many more years left in active politics. After his stint in Maharashtra, he was sidelined in Karnataka politics too, for the fear that he would drive away rural voters. As a matter of fact, ever since his departure, it is the Congress party that has been sidelined by voters all across Karnataka, both urban and rural.

Let bygones be bygones; there is little to gain by crying foul over sour grapes of the past. Except that we should recognize that — Bangalore, hence Karnataka, and India to an extent, failed to use the services of a visionalry administrator for five long years, when age and energy was on Krishna’s side. I am nevertheless relieved that in 2009, Manmohan Singh and Sonia-Rahul duo have finally come to appreciate that Krishna would be a welcome addition to the Indian cabinet, especially after a historic mandate for Congress party, which has come with the additional burden of responsibility to deliver and live upto the immense expectations of aam aadmi.


3 thoughts on “Welcome Back to Government, Mr. SM Krishna!

  1. Aravind says:

    The very first sentence is disturbing – Sonia Gandhi is a nobody if not for her surname, and for her to “rehabilitate” Krishna is a shame and disgrace for Krishna.

    Krishna “enlightening” Obama on ‘Bangaloring’ is laughable, to say the least. It makes no sense whatsoever for someone who is the head of a country, and is responsible for creating jobs in his own troubled economy. This is the first time a negative aspect of globalization and unbridled capitalism has been accepted and acted against by a country as powerful as the US.

    Whether someone will get along well with Hillary Clinton or not is not a major criterion for the post of Foreign affairs. Being in a party that is almost subservient to the US, you would not expect otherwise. (I say this for two reasons. One, MMS saying something like ‘India supports the US supporting Israel’. Two, that MMS wants the world to see India as a friend of the US, for that will change the way they deal with India – this is the sycophantic behaviour that permeates the INC – doesn’t it sound similar to ‘If you are a friend of the Gandhis you will be treated differently’ ?)

    “Karnataka, and especially Bangalore, was fortunate to have such a personality during the height of DotCom boom across the world.” – Correction. The minority that had / could build associations with IT in Bangalore and Karnataka was fortunate…

    Bangalore is in total disarray now. That might not be attributed to Krishna, but his insufficient emphasis on urban planning has choked up the city. He should’ve been given a second chance, but his work was incomplete. And, from what I remember, he did not lose in the assembly elections in 2004. I blame the congress for its shortcoming there.

    I have no reason to believe Krishna was a good candidate for the MEA. I have never seen him speak a word about foreign affairs, and foreign affairs does not end at encouraging capitalism. Shashi Tharoor was my choice. Krishna could have been the Minister for urban development or some such thing.

    On Congress’ subservience to the US, “compromising India’s sovereignty” –
    1. http://www.politicalaffairs.net/article/articleview/7470/
    2. http://links.org.au/node/470
    3. http://www.ourkarnataka.com/Articles/starofmysore/rely08.htm

    The first two articles are by communists, but they make sense and cannot be rubbished.


    • @ Aravind:

      Since our political ideology, views on Indian governance, and India’s role in the world differ in many significant ways, it is but natural that you dig into the negatives of Manmohan Singh’s regime, while I try to do just the opposite. I am not saying that either of us is wrong in holding these views.

      Just to clarify one point: My point on Krishna educating Obama was just meant to mock the latter’s protectionist mindset. I know that an Indian Foreign Minster cannot speak on the same terms with a US President.

      I am a bit surprised by your backing of Shashi Tharoor for the post. Given your concerns with Congress’s pro-US and pro-Israel tilt, I’d imagine that you should have more reservations about Tharoor than about anyone else in the Congress party. Tharoor was the main architect behind India’s voting according to US’s wishes on Iran at IAEA last year, despite heavy criticism from Prakash Karat. This singular act squarely aligned India with US on the world stage. Not that I have any issues with this, but thought you would.

      Aside, I would be thrilled if Shashi Tharoor is inducted as MoS to Krishna in the next expansion.

      Yet to read those articles — will do that soon.


  2. Aravind says:

    Our political ideologies might be different. My point was that it is natural for the media today to portray only positives about the Congress and its ministers, as media is, after all, driven more by ratings than anything else (Talk of MMS being “the ideal PM”). The Indian media, therefore, does not provide a good critical exposition. But, since I know you are the open-minded, progressive, self-respecting patriot, I am being critical of what the media says today. I am sure you agree with me that it is necessary to remain critical. I have critiqued every point of yours as I see you being thrilled. I am definitely not thrilled.

    I agree Tharoor is no less of an “Americanizer”. But, he, for one, has at least some idea of external affairs (which I might not agree with, and which would justify my continued opposition to the congress). But, from Krishna I have not heard anything. And I have no hope that Krishna’s thinking will be much different from the general Congress thinking. Krishna has been tested in urban development, and India could very much use his experience there. Every Indian city is struggling. There, I would have some hope of Krishna improving something.

    Irrespective of our ideologies, we must concur that
    1. America has been one of the most greedy countries in the last century.
    2. America has vested interests in Asia at this time.
    3. For India to remain a sovereign, it has to protect its freedom of policy-making
    4. Therefore it is important to keep US at arm’s length while pushing for better ties. The balance is hard to strike, but there should be no compromise on security or foreign policy (the nuclear deal is bad enough).

    And there is no escape to protectionism. Just like America is being protectionist, India has to be. India is! Why are you bothered that America is being protectionist? Because you fear the dip in the Indian economy, unemployment in the Indian market – i.e. you want to protect jobs for Indians. Is that not protectionist? You can be protectionist, but America should not? Being non-protectionist is not something one can sustain for long. America has realized it. India has to accept that and be openly protectionist of its people. Globalization, like anything else, is good in moderation. You should ensure that when external factors are against you (like now, in the midst of the economic crisis), you don’t end up being a pauper.


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