New Delhi: Time magazine’s branding of the Prime Minister as an “under-achiever” in its cover story has predictably been dismissed by his party.
“It’s one among several magazines in the world… it says can the PM rouse himself? The answer is of course,” said Home Minister P Chidambaram.
That may be a desperate attempt to see the glass half full. The Asia edition of the magazine, to hit newsstands this week, says the PM appears “unwilling to stick his neck out” for reforms that could revive the country’s economy.
With his portrait in the background, the title on the cover reads ‘The Underachiever – India needs a reboot’. The party and the Prime Minister’s Office have decided not to raise the story or formally contest its contents. The Opposition BJP said today that Time has only “stated the obvious” and that the PM has dented India’s international image. Mr Chidabaram described that remark as distasteful, and said he’d like the BJP to remember that in 2002, Time had run a story on then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee titled “Asleep at the wheel.”
The Time article is titled ‘A Man in Shadow’. It says that in addition to the economic slowdown, “investors at home and abroad are beginning to get cold feet. Voters too are losing confidence, as rising inflation and a litany of scandals chip away at the government’s credibility.”
Last month, global rating agency Standard and Poor’s was critical of the Prime Minister as well. Its report said, “Moreover, paramount political power rests with the leader of the Congress, Sonia Gandhi, who holds no Cabinet position, while the government is led by an unelected Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who lacks a political base of his own.”
The Time magazine report says that “In the past three years, the calm confidence he (Singh) once radiated has been absent. He seems unable to control his ministers and his new, temporary portfolio at the Finance Ministry notwithstanding, unwilling to stick his neck out on reforms that will continue the process of liberalisation he helped start.”