Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Review: The Accidental Prime Minister: The Making and Unmaking of Manmohan Singh

The Accidental Prime Minister: The Making and Unmaking of Manmohan Singh The Accidental Prime Minister: The Making and Unmaking of Manmohan Singh by Sanjaya Baru
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One feels sorry for Dr Singh. You can see this situation so many times in organizational dynamics. To be your own man, sometimes you have to put your foot down and stand up to your own people. If you're not allowed to make decisions, you can't be a leader. At such times, one should step aside; as Baru seems to have advised his employer.

The book itself is a revealing insight into the chaos and mayhem that was UPA-1 and 2. Again, this is typical of an organizational unit that has multiple vested interests and a sycophantic setup instead of a synchronous team and a strong leader. Despite the praise Baru lavishes on Dr Singh the person, the incidents he recounts (also corroborated by the news we've read) present a poor picture of Dr Singh the leader. He comes off as a bureaucratic and submissive lackey despite Baru's best efforts to humanize him.

In hindsight, it is also very clear why the current dispensation is able to function so much better. Modi's natural decisiveness, low tolerance for the "Lutyens elite" and other bullshitters, a clear line of authority, his own choice in terms of creating a cohesive, united team and complete autonomy in decision-making. No wonder there's so much more achieved in terms of effective policy formation and holistic decisions.

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