Nobody knows why The Time chose Dr Manmohan Singh as the Underachiever of the year. True to our US-loving psyche, our very own Outlook magazine has paid back the compliment, most graciously, by featuring President Obama on its cover with a similar title.
Now there is so much heartburn in the country that one wonders whether it was an American ploy to sow seeds of disunity with this move. The opposition parties like BJP and CPM say that their record of the last few years speaks for itself, and that it is not the business of ‘outsiders’ to decide who is the underachiever-est of us all. Meanwhile the leaders of these parties sulk and plan a counter offensive that would prove, conclusively, that the tag rightfully belongs to them. Ms Mamata Bannerjee has, it is widely believed, a natural talent and a head-start in the race.
But I seriously feel that the true under-achievers are to be found elsewhere, and that they must be recognized. Generally, we all know that the common man in India is the rightful owner of this coveted title, but to be more specific, I would submit my top five contenders for your kind consideration.
- The Indian corporate: Taking manufacturing growth into negative territory at a time when there is a growing demand from the middle classes – can only be the work of a hard-working underachiever. Moreover, the image and political management of the Corporates is in tatters, and they have lost their grip over the polity. What sort of an aspiring capitalist society is this where the propaganda machine of the private sector cannot rule the mindscape?
- The Indian Voter: With a catchment area of over a billion people, the Indian voter is unable to choose a handful of good leaders for the Parliament and Assemblies! Their sheer dedication in choosing some of worst odd-balls from the society must be recognized as the handiwork of a dedicated underachiever.
- The Indian cricket team: At a time when the Indian captain M S Dhoni has the probably the most talented set of players in his team, it must have taken special strategy to lose series after series since our World Cup victory. For the consistency shown in under-performance, the team needs to be recognized.
- The Indian Geek: Blessed with brains and an IIT degree, the Geek has disappointed by being always the follower, never the leader, in the field of big ideas; an ideal worker rather than a conceptualizer, or a brand creator.
- The Indian Media: So much freedom, so little result. All the ideal settings going to waste, like the grains that are rotting in Indian go-downs. The pathetic performance of Indian media is recognized and commented-on by all, and they are definitely the top contenders for the title.
The competition is tough, and it is not likely that there will be a consensus. Therefore the lucky Dr Singh will continue to rule – and that is as it should be. If I missed out on a contender who is more worthy than the above five, do to submit the name/category, at least for the record. I have no doubt that history will judge them better.