Make up your mind, and your qualifications Tavleen Singh!

Not always I do read articles that people tweet links of, but every now and then I do:

tavleen_singh

Can anyone challenge CAG? – Indian Express http://t.co/l0KfP6jk

19/08/12 9:33 AM

The Article

I don’t understand economics much in detail. Now how and why would I? I’m just a medical doctor and a surgeon. When I need some financial advise, I just call up my local community newspaper volunteer journalist to get some advise and that sorts it out!

Did that make sense?

Didn’t?

Thanks!

so when I read this tweet from Tavleen Singh, and then clicked on to read her article somehow it prompted me to check a few credentials too.
If you read this article you’ll find a few interesting quips:

“This formerly faceless official is such a celebrity today that respected international newspapers write profiles of Vinod Rai. And, it is entirely because of him that it was possible for Anna Hazare during his recent hunger strike in Jantar Mantar to demand the sacking of fifteen ministers. The corruption charges made against them were mostly based on CAG reports.”

Huh- so that’s where it hurts! Some odd faceless guy who is supposed to be a no-body and a government’s paper pusher is actually trying a bit too hard and making his work count! How dare he!! How inappropriate it is for the unwashed charlatans like Hazare have any opportunity to even have access to the usually hush-hush government figures and make something out of it? Our high nosed media and columnists are busy trying to praise and validate and sometimes ostentatiously criticise while being careful of not going too harsh on them must froth at their mouths when some ‘International Newspapers’ pull out a bio on the lowly government bureaucrats that we have developed a convenient culture of ignoring completely?

So then Tavleen Singh goes on criticising Mr. Rai on his methods of calculations and coming up with these ‘absurd’ figures of corrupt practises, and how the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh hasn’t challenged and confronted these figures that Mr. Rai came up with- and that’s when I think, let me find out what are the credentials of the parties involved. I don’t have access to their resumes, but hey, that’s what Wikipedia is for.

Vinod Rai (CAG): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vinod_Rai

Master of Economics (Delhi University)

Master of Public Administration (Harvard University)

Manmohan Singh (PM): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manmohan_singh

Master of Economics (Punjab University)

Reader at the Cambridge University

Doctoral fellow (economics) of the University of Oxford

So, a Master of economics and a Harvard grad comes up with some data, that the Prime Minister who is also a Master of Economics and a Doctorate holder from Oxford decides to not challenge this data directly; and who decides that the PM should oppose because CAG data and methods seem faulty to her? Tavleen Singh- of course:

Tavleen Singh (Columnist): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tavleen_Singh

Short-course in Journalism from Delhi Polytechnic

Westminster press trainee

What baffles me is, where did she gain all this wonderful insight and understanding of economics of the level that she can challenge CAG of India? Amusing, isn’t it? The funnier bit is that she goes on patting the back of Surjit Bhalla’s article “Where donkeys fly” for it’s remark:

“some months ago, Surjit Bhalla wrote an excellent column in this newspaper (Where Donkeys fly, March 24, 2012) asserting that it was the ‘economic illiteracy’ of India that allowed Mr Rai’s bizarre mathematics to go unchallenged”

Smell the coffee, Ms. Singh, if you go by the credentials, you are one of the ‘Economic Illiterates’ of India too.

Mr. Surjit S Bhalla now seems to be an economist and I’d slightly more readily take his words on economic processes and national audits, but then this one thing comes to my mind. When we, doctors present any papers/ write in medical journals etc, we have to make a declaration of any potential conflicts of interests. i.e. if the presenting doctor has any financial gain/ loss, interests or sponsorships from anywhere or if one has financial interests from the process/ patents of the technique being discussed. Does Mr. Bhalla- who seems to be Managing Director of an economic and financial advisory, market analysis and asset management firm based in Delhi have no interests in Government’s policies regarding national economics? Would different taxation/ licensing laws in the nation not affect his clients financially and indiretly Mr. Bhalla himself? So where is his disclosure of conflict of interest, Mr. Bhalla?

And after all, all the report finally makes is that may be the corruption isn’t as bad as it sounds, there wasn’t billions of Rupees lost, only about a third of it- so chill! :-[

The other lines that attracted my attention were the ones that absolved Sonia Gandhi completely from this controversy. She writes:

“Sonia was only a housewife before she became a politician so she can be absolved for keeping her mouth shut on complex economic matters”

So clearly Ms. Singh thinks Sonia is too simple to comment on these, and still may be in a naive housewife mode and hence she can shake her hands off these issues! This is not what you’ve been writing and thinking about Sonia always now, is it Ms. Singh? I saw some more articles here and there from Tavleen Singh where she urges Sonia to step up and lead the nation and move forwards from her background (or behind the curtains) role in the UPA government.

1- Why Sonia should come out of Purdah

2- Why India needs Sonia to be its leader

“So please, Sonia Gandhi, become Prime Minister yourself. There is no point any longer in pretending that you are just a social worker totally uninterested in power and pelf. Everyone knows that you are the most powerful person in India at the moment and that the second most powerful person is your son and heir. Immense power cannot come without immense responsibility.”


“This is because he (Manmohan Singh) is seen as a timid, weak man who is unable to say or do anything until he has permission from 10 Janpath.”

And thus Sonia Gandhi, the most powerful person in India who to Ms Singh’s own understanding has better leadership qualities than Manmohan Singh and is anyways running the Government from behind the curtains suddenly becomes ‘just a housewife’ that did right by keeping her mouth shut on the complex national economic issues all of a sudden? How convenient!

I’ll wait for her to write a technical note on complex revision hip replacement surgeries that I can learn something from in near future. Please, Ms. Singh, do help me out here.

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2 thoughts on “Make up your mind, and your qualifications Tavleen Singh!”

  1. This lady has irked me no ends with her pseudo accent, hyperbole and pathetically poor articulation of the issues on hand. I want to thank you for posting this excellent article. By the way, I too went to her wikipedia page to find out her background before hitting upon your article.Well done and keep it up.

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