The Grim Reaper



This is not how Sharad Pawar would have liked himself to be regarded: with ridicule. In the last couple of days since he formally took over as president of the Internaional Cricket Council (ICC), starting from its CEO Malcolm Speed who cast doubts on his ability to administer cricket, most critics have been poking fun or seriously critiquing Pawar for his failures on other fronts as well.

There is even a rumour going around that Pawar has sought a meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to ask him to lighten his work load. I do not quite believe that – Pawar is not one to give up any responsibility so easily, though I think Congressmen will be only too glad to bifurcate or even trifurcate his Agriculture Ministry and divest him of most of his powers in that sector!

But Pawar’s recent bungling of the food issue and his inability to get a grip on price rise combined with his bizarre explanations for why such things are happening — even mother’s milk is adulterated (in response to the contaminated water issue), there is a shortage of wheat in India because South Indians are beginning to eat too many chappatis, rice shortages happening because North-east Indians are eating more of that staple – make me seriously wonder if he is indeed best agriculture minister India has had, as his supporters would have us believe, or if, in his pursuit of cricket, he has simply lost the plot!

Now one of my favourites, Faking News, has put out a satire on Pawar and his cricketing skills (or the lack of them) which is as funny as it is grim. The underlying message is that suicides occur wherever Pawar goes and if he could not sort out the problems of farmers committing suicides in India, he could not but drive international cricket, as well, to suicide.

When Pawar first contested the BCCI elections, even his supporters wondered what it was about cricket that he found so fascinating. The aftermath of the scam in the Indian Premier League (IPL) has now answered that question on its own. It is Speed’s turn now to wonder what it is exactly that Pawar wants out of the ICC. There is one particular statement of Speed’s – that Pawar would barely attend ICC meetings for an hour or two and let others from BCCI take over the rest of the proceedings – that is quite revealing.

Obviously, Pawar’s interest has little to do with cricket administration than with power and stature and I think he believes the ICC presidency will bring him both. And if he seems not to be able to articulate at ICC meetings, it is simply because he cannot – he is uncomfortable with English accents that are not Marathi-tinged and he knows if he speaks English he might not be able to get himself understood. That is why he needs the likes of the savvy Lalit Modi and the even savvier Praful Patel around him who do all the talking for him while he lords over the rest.

I do not know much about cricket to assess what Pawar might do for the game internationally, but I believe he will certainly undo a lot in India for farmers and their consumers (which is all of us, one billion or more eaters) if he is seriously thinking of lightening his work load in Krishi Bhavan.

Pawar, I believe, is capable of much more than has been on show in the past six years in the Union Agriculture Ministry. Unknown to many, he is attempting to increase the yields of desi cows without having to cross breed them with imported bulls; he is attempting to reduce the leakages of food grains from godowns and in transit; he is also trying his level best to bring farmers to other crops which will bring them more returns than the traditional ones they have been growing for years.

He is succeeding in most of these experiments but unfortunately the scale has not been large enough to show up on the national radar and it is that one major lack in him – articulation – that makes it so difficult for him to showcase his achievements. That, though, is quite apart from the fact that most of his successes have been in the region of Pune and Baramati, his fiefdom, which makes it look as though Pawar is trying for a medal for the best agriculture minister that Pune – not even Maharashtra – has ever had (unfortunately, though, that would still be Annasaheb Shinde, Mrs Indira Gandhi’s Agriculture Minister, still very highly regarded in the region and whose record might take some overcoming by Pawar).

So that is what I believe is his greatest drawback – Pawar is capable of big things but only if it benefits him personally. The salutary effect of those experiments on others is just incidental. Like when he introduced the anti-liquor policy through his women’s policy when he was Chief Minister of Maharashtra in 1994/5. It is still the only policy of its kind anywhere in the world and the best – women in villages troubled by drunken husbands can petition the collector to shut down liquor dens and stores in their vicinity. Pawar thought it would get him votes of women by the thousands (he lost the subsequent elections) but nearly two decades later village after village is going liquor- free and women living a lot more easily in the villages that have banned alcohol.

But Pawar’s party men now are doing their damnedest to award more licenses to liquor shops – the loss of revenue in excise duty is,clearly, pinching. Moreover, many of them are sugar barons who want a profitable outlet for their waste molasses.

And they have Sharad Pawar’s tacit support to reverse what can be labelled as his biggest achievement!

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  • srain

    I was surprised when he climbed the victory stands when Aussies were celebrating a victory over India. His understanding of cricket was revealed that very moment and the Aussies had to literally push him off the stands ( But Sachin came to his rescue admonishing the Aussies for the bad behaviour towards one of India leading sons and John Howard paid for it now). He is perhaps making a statement to the nation that his current job does not befit his stature ( remember he wanted to be PM nearly 20 years ago), so he gives it up ( giving up power – a la Sonia ) in pursuit of benefitting a national passion. (????)
    I do not believe if theatrics will get him the PMs job but his performance as Agri Minister has been pathetic. He wants the PMs job too badly but does not know how to go about it. BTW, I do not believe that he knew nothing about the doings at IPL, he is too shrewd or rather cunning to let things happen under him without he getting a major share of whatever is being shared / filched, that he will never give up. But luckily the press let him off , which speaks a lot about our press too ( let off SP who is powerful but hound LKM who is a light-weight by comparison.
    FInally , the country , instead of trifuricating his ministry should simply sack him – a fate that he deserves for mismanaging the sector for last so many years with care or thought for the common man ( which include Maharastrians who may come to his rescue / support like Sachin did once. (Maybe Sachin too wants to join polotics after his retirement and become his protege. Despite Sachin’s stature , he had no business to come to Pawar’s rescue while SP had no reason to share the stage with Aussies.

    [Reply]

    Prateek Reply:

    Nice reply sir. Media is to be blamed as a partner in Pawar’s mismanagement for sure. If he lacks the art of articulation then I think media also lacks the same characteristic when comes to describing his misdeeds.

    Thanks,
    Prateek

    http://indiawithme-prateek.blogspot.com

    [Reply]

    Ramesh Lahoti Reply:

    God has blessed India that Sharad Pawar did not become the PM. Today we would be a screwed up country. As Anandan writes about suicides, then half the country could feed itself on cyanide. Anandan is wrong on one count. He is the most disliked man in Baramati today. That is why he dare not stand for election from any place in Baramati and surroundings. This whole family has today one of the most rotten reputations in the country. It is not surprising why the so-called sugar barons are supporting him. Ultimately they only want to become rich. It is sad to say that the Maharastrians have to decide how long they want to tolerate him and whole ilk of wrong doers. Nobody else can do it. This man is being voted again and again because locals like his brand of politics and crookedness, otherwise why would they vote him. Look at the type of people who are in his party and his personal friends – from hoodlums to self serving politicians. Everybody knows them but only talks about them in water and air -tight enclosures because he and his followers spread fear like the Thackerays. That is today’s Maharashtra and in Pawar we have a disaster for the country

    I doubt whether HT will present this mail under the comment part of this site.

    [Reply]

    ashok Reply:

    For decades, Sharad Pawar has been known to be the richest politician in India. But he was also respected for his competence and administrative abilities. The decline started in 1991 with his abortive bid for the top job. He lost Maharashtra in 1995, which takes some doing, given the deep roots of the Congress in the state.For the last ten years, as a partner of the ruling coalition, the

    [Reply]

    Rhishikesh Lakhote Reply:

    I find your attempt to rope in Sachin as a supporter of Pawar to be bit amaeturish. Please do not drag Sachin or other Maharashtrians in this issue using your fertile imagination. Maharashtrians are nationalistic people who do not have divisive tendancies and Sachin, Lata are national icons. The very fact that Anandan and “srain” or whatever your name is are making a living in this part of the country is a credit to the large heartedness of the Mahrashtrian people. Though I am no fan of Sharad Pawar or his policies (cricket or agriculture) the behaviour of the Aussie team that night with their host was extremely boorish which should have been condemned by all Indians not only Maharashtrians like Sachin.

    [Reply]

  • Vineet

    I am surprised that you had to wait for the IPL bungle to know what pawars true intentions are. I will not be surprised if he creates a food shortage in the country just to make some money on wheat imports. If farmers die of starvation he will be involved in grabbing their lands.

    [Reply]

  • Nikhil

    Let Pawar be the full time ICC president and let UPA appoint out-of-work Lalit Modi as our new Agriculture minister.

    [Reply]

  • http://www.mriconsult.com Rhishikesh Lakhote

    I have been reading Sujata Anandan`s posts offline in HT for quite some time. This is the first blog post that I am reading of hers. I find her to be carrying some kind of a chip on her shoulder visa-vis the politicians of Maharshtra in general and the Thackreys in particular. She practically riducules Bal Thackrey bordering on character assination. If I were Thackrey I would have a serious problem with this kind of reporting. I am no fan of Thackrey or his kind of narrow, parochial politics but one has to give the man his due for having built a successful political organisation in less than 25 years.But the point I am trying ot make is that Anandan is equally at fault for going on and on about the the drawbacks of Thackrey. I find her position visa vis Sharad Pawar confusing. Is she a admirer of his or she likes taking pot shots at his “Marathi tinged” English capabilities ? Does she hold same views about the “Tamil English” skills of Karunanidhi ? I am sorry ..is Anandan a Tamilian name ? How different is then she from Thackrey in her views ?

    [Reply]

    Nandu Reply:

    There is no need to look at all events in political terms and people in parochial sense. It is not about tamilians , maharashtrians or others .It is this inability of ours to look at things in an objective manner that is hampering our progress. You say that you are no fan of thackeray’s brand of politics or for that matter Sharad pawar and his policies. But will you have the courage to criticise them when they harm the common man’s interest . Umpteen number of times these worthies and many other so called leaders from other states have caused immeasurable losses to this country in pursuing their type of politics and many a time for theirs or their clans gain.And we have all mutely watched these worthies drag the nation down . We have allowed them to exploit our sentiments to satisfy their greed. And still we squabble about whether “A ” is a Tamilian or “B” is a maharashtrian . Not just for effects sake I would prefer to be called an Indian than any other Tag

    [Reply]

  • jon doe

    Abdul Karim Telgi Telgi , the main accused in the Rs 60000 crore fake stamp paper scam, was arrested in 1991. During a narco-analysis test in 2003, Abdul Karim Telgi named Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, former deputy Maharashtra Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal and former Karnataka minister Roshan Baig were involved in the scam and were the kingpins of the scam. Pawar denied having any link with the scam. Others in Telgi’s confession were Lok Sabha speaker P A Sangma, Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh and Sameer Bhujbal, nephew of Chhagan Bhujbal. Telgi made the revelations when was in a semi-conscious state, after he was injected with a truth serum at the government-run Victoria Hospital in Bangalore. Telgi told the names and explained his modus operandi, places of operation, his assistants, how the scam was started, and his bank account details.

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    [Reply]

  • http://www.facebook.com/dr.smsharma Shashi Mohan Sharma

    Dreams……one day…will change to reality.

    [Reply]