Panagariya and Shourie – parallel Indias?


Dr. Arvind Panagariya, reels off impressive list of statistics on India’s infrastructure progress under the new NDA government, in the last two years.

Some quick facts from his article:

Road construction has risen from 8.5 kilometres a day during the last two years of the previous government to 11.9 kilometres in 2014-15 and 16.5 kilometres in 2015-16.

In railways, the average rate of expansion of tracks has risen to 7 kilometres per day during 2015-16 from 4.3 kilometres per day during the previous six years. Investment in railways during 2015-16 has been double the average during the preceding five years.

Coal production has now acquired momentum, with the output rising by 32 million tonnes in 2014-15 against the increase of 31 million tonnes in the previous four years taken together.

Critics who continue to argue that nothing has changed since this government took office must ponder the fate of infrastructure in the country had the previous administration continued.

But, it is May and once again, it has become customary for Dr. Shourie to give one of his interviews to Karan Thapar. I have read only some selected comments. Yet to listen to the full interview.

Over the last two years, he has given three long interviews to Karan Thapar, after the NDA government took office. As the interviews become less and less substantive and more personal, it becomes difficult to argue against them because there are no arguments, to argue for or against.

As some of his choicest epithets for the Prime Minister traveled around the online world, only one thought came to me. At one level, it can be said that politicians – almost all of the successful ones at all levels and the world over – are Machiavellian and narcissist. Otherwise, they cannot succeed nor will they have reached where they have.

It cannot be anyone’s case clearly that the government has not done anything and that all that Arvind Panagariya writes are figments of his imagination.

R. Jagannathan has done a very good job of responding to Dr. Shourie’s interview. Nothing more needs to be said.

As a man who has done a lot of good work for India – before he joined the first NDA government and after – it is quite sad to see many of his admirers – including this blogger – struggling (and failing) to defend Dr. Shourie’s public utterances.

Even if one had justifiable reasons to feel aggrieved, there is a dignity to bearing it silently.

Unrelated to this specific interview, but at a broader level, this episode  evoked in me some thoughts on turning old.  The risk of ending up bitter in old age is high for most of us.

When young, there is a feeling that life would still offer something that makes up for the disappointments.

As one ages, such hopes fade. What remains are disappointments and bitter memories. – loss aversion at work, accentuated by loneliness and lack of attention from others.

Hence, the redoubled effort to make oneself relevant and when that combined with bitterness – self-pity, the result is toxic (bad karma in old age – and no time to work it off). Rebirth. Cycle continues. Bitterness and regrets guarantee that outcome.

Luckily, I have also some role models to feel inspired and to emulate.


2 thoughts on “Panagariya and Shourie – parallel Indias?

  1. Dear Ananth,

    As someone who is just a few years younger than Shourie I would like to offer this observation, from the vantage point of my own old age. I have thus far not observed a single person who stayed “neutral” as s/he moves into old age. Everyone seems either to become a bitter old person (like Shourie) or Albert Schweitzer. Ultimately class tells. And Shourie has none.

    In private emails to you I have explained why I have utter contempt for Shourie, for reasons totally unrelated to his views on the Prime Minister. Shourie appears to have turned into, or perhaps he always was, a person totally lacking in class or civility.


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