Friday, July 20, 2012

Age of Under-achievers : Of Dr Manmohan Singh & Barack Obama


Many of us perhaps have a board hanging in our neck reading ‘appreciate me’ – those not having strength of inner mind, would feel that only when their job is appreciated, the mission is complete. In a material World, we are constantly subjected to ‘performance review’ and rating of achievements, which form the basis of further career development and monetary rewards.  Many of these are relative terms – there could be situations where you outperform your role, still you or your team’s performance is not acknowledged properly due to variety of circumstances.

Achievement is accomplishment of the set task, not mere reaching there but completing it with a superior ability, special effort, greater courage – making it a great, heroic deed not so easily attainable by lesser mortals. 

Time is an American weekly news magazine published in New York City.  It is touted to be the World's largest circulation weekly news magazine with a readership of 25 million, of which 20 million are in the US. Recently, Time dubbed our Indian PM  Manmohan Singh as 'underachiever'.  Once hailed as messaiah for  his pivotal role in liberalising the Indian economy, in someways it is a fall to be dubbed an "underachiever", as Time states that he appears "unwilling to stick his neck out" on reforms that will put the country back on growth path.  Featuring on the cover of Time Magazine is no mean achievement but Dr Singh sure would not have relished his on the cover of  Time magazine's Asia edition.  With his portrait in the background, the title on the cover reads 'The Underachiever - India needs a reboot'.

Reportedly, Time's report titled 'A Man in Shadow' asks, adding that apart from facing the challenges of a slowdown in economic growth, huge fiscal deficit and a falling rupee, India's Congress party-led UPA coalition "has found itself fending off corruption scandals and accused of showing a lack of economic direction." "....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," the magazine said.  According to the magazine, the Indian PM is seemingly 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."

Whether Time Magazine is always right and whether One would need a foreign magazine to assess what is happening is one’s own country does not need any elaboration.  

There are many Indian magazines – English ones at that and Outlook certainly would be  there in the list  of top-selling English weekly newsmagazines.  Outlook has been published in New Delhi continuously since October 1995 by the Outlook Group, whose founding editor-in-chief  Vinod  Mehta. Outlook made news for its investigative reports of the "Kargil bungle" and the cricket "match-fixing controversy."  Now Outlook has hit back Time with its new issue

It features an image of Barack Obama with headline, retort of Time magazine headline of the cover “The Underachiever” – this time for Obama from India.  The magazine in the same tone calls the American President an underachiever. “America needed a reboot – he promised hope and change. Four years on, President Barack Obama’s sheen is gone. Can his lofty rhetoric carry him home again?”

To most Indians, a detailed analysis of the Presidential performance of Obama would not matter at all – not many are interested in the US policies affecting India, its trade, its employment, its outsourcing and other matters of relevance – so, sure Obama on cover would not sell much but that is besides the point.  Perhaps at a time when all magazines would be doing a story on the passing way of Rajesh Khanna, Outlook’s forthcoming issue is to have one on ‘Obama’ on cover.  Is it simply a marketing gimmick or a ploy to please Congress leaders or genuine outrage of Time’s on Manmohan !!!

Sure online forums will have much to have talk about, irrespective whether it would bring a smile on Dr Manmohan’s face……. Sure it would please the Congress followers, if they think of their party beyond their regional parochialisms. 

PS :  In Tamilnadu, the Youth Congress reaction made comic news. Undereducated and misguided  youth congress cadres took to the streets in Chennai, burning The Times of India copies, mistaking them for US-based TIME magazine – which leads to a primary Q – who orchestrates such shows ! and whether the Party is in any way control of such situations ?  Did they consult their leaders before taking to streets ??

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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