First thoughts on the Cabinet

Around 12 noon today (Singapore time), the Press Information Bureau (PIB) of the Government of India had released the names of all the Cabinet Ministers in the Government of Mr. Narendra Modi with their respective portfolios. Last night, I watched the swearing-in ceremony. It was a proud moment for all of us when we saw Shri. Modi-ji officially became the 15th Prime Minister of India.

When I sent out the list from the PIB, one of my friends wrote back that she was quite aghast not to find Dr. Arun Shourie and Suresh Prabhu in the list. Another friend wrote that it was wrong not to have included elders like Dr. M.M. Joshi and Shri. Advani-ji. Of course, a third friend wrote that it was good to see a Prime Minister choose his own cabinet after what felt like ages.

A statement put out by Modi-ji’s office on Sunday gave rise to expectations of a very lean, very smartly re-organised and restructured Central Cabinet. In the final analysis, that was not quite what it turned out to be. In that sense, expectations raised by that statement remain unmet so far.

Rural and Agriculture related matters have four Ministries – Rural Development, Agriculture, Food and Civil Supplies (PDS) and Food Processing. There is the odd combination of I&B and Environment as well as Finance and Defence. Quite clearly, these things will be set right in due course. Mr. Arun Jaitley has said as much in his first remarks as the Cabinet Minister. [Link]. The present Cabinet is still a work-in-progress.

Business Standard expressed its disappointment forthrightly. MINT found bright spots in this article, such as the maximum age ceiling, number of youngsters, number of women in the Cabinet, etc.

Sandipan Deb had an interesting view on Modi’s message to China through his appointment of former Army General V.K. Singh as the MoS with independent charge of Northeast and also as MoS for external affairs, headed by Ms. Sushma Swaraj.

Similarly, R. Jagannathan has a persuasive argument on the method and smartness behind Modi’s choice of Ministers.

[Parenthetically, one should read his piece on the shocking and brazen method of deficit reduction adopted by the former Finance Minister Chidambaram by transferring surplus from oil producing companies to downstream oil companies. This makes a mockery of deficit reduction. Strange that many mainstream news outlets have not called him out on it]

A final thought from my wife, not with respect to any specific Cabinet member but said more generally: in films, sometimes, ‘run-of-the-mill’ actors come to life and put in stellar performance in the hands of an able Director. I suppose the analogy is obvious.

Few days ago, she had posted an interesting allegorical message on her Facebook page. Here is the ‘copied and pasted’ version below:

I am in love with a massive heritage property. It has everything. A gorgeous house filled with artifacts, paintings surrounded by flora, fauna, flowing streams. The house also has diverse residents. Some need serious help. Elderly, poor, children. The care-takers who were in place for the past ten years have done a bad job. The roof is leaking, the garden is dying, a lot of residents are starving. Some are not educated. Some don’t have appropriate jobs. In parts the house is crumbling. Some rogue neighbors are claiming ownership. The care takers could not be bothered. They looted, cheated, enjoyed a good life, did not answer questions.

Finally, the co-owners have managed to find a new care-taker. He seems sincere, committed, focused on bringing about change.

The co-owners are now barking instructions at him:

“Mend the roof”
“Feed the elderly”
“What about the garden?”
“Who will restore the paintings?”
“Make friends with the neighbors but teach the bullies a lesson”
“Reclaim our land”
“The stream ways are polluted. Clean that up first!”
“Don’t leave out some residents because they are different!”

Some of the co-owners who did not like him and wanted a different care-taker are saying “We are all watching! One screw up and we are waiting to say I told you so.”

Ten years of decay will take at least three years to bring the house to a livable state. It may take many more to restore the house to its full glory. Co-owners have to be patient, supportive and constructive.

What am I doing right now? I am full of optimism and I am praying for the care-taker and for my maternal home.

One thought on “First thoughts on the Cabinet

  1. As I was reading your words in this blog.. i was preparing my immediate response to your

    blog……and then I read your wife’s message that followed…..very true…Very well written ..

    now I have nothing more to say…. that message applies to the ‘views’ ‘pieces’ ‘links’ etc referred in your blog and more so to ‘your blog on the cabinet’ that gathers all the above while adding yours’ as well.

    India has just entered a new era.. initial hicupps are unavoidable… Let us wait ..let us hold back our tendency to rush to pronounce judgements, to locate faults …at least for some time…

    …things shall evolve…..let us wish all the ministers well…


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