Basking in trivial glory

Basking in trivial glory

We all knew, from its myriad antics, that the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government was an adventurous one. That it would take its adventurism literally, however, was unexpected. So when an entry on a South Pole expedition cropped up in the UPA’s so-called “report to the people" (which is really a glossy list of the administration’s self-styled achievements), we were rather taken aback.

Sure, it’s great when Indians make it to the challenging extremities of the earth. But the achievement rightly belongs to the people who undertake the expedition, not the government, no matter what its material contribution to the project.

And that wasn’t the only surprising claim in the report. At one place, it recorded the creation of national committees to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary year of Rabindranath Tagore, Swami Vivekananda and Madan Mohan Malviya. At another, it took credit for new measures to promote animal nutrition and livestock health. The list can go on.

The point is not that these subjects are unimportant. But the specific measures that the government claims to have “achieved" are too trivial for an annual report card of state performance. A few crores for polytechnics here, a few for Waqf development there can’t really be called earth-shattering feats.

Unfortunately, by descending into such trivialization, the report makes a mockery of what could have been a constructive exercise. An honest reckoning of annual performance can not only help drive accountability in policymaking circles, but can also be a superb vehicle for disseminating information about governance among citizens. In conditions of imperfect information, they can aid in decision-making among the electorate.

However, honest information about its doings can also be detrimental to a government that has done more harm than good. From the way the report tries to tap every possible source, no matter how negligible, for brownie points, this seems to be the exact fear in the government. Sample the fact that the Commonwealth Games go from an unmitigated disaster to a stunning athletic success where the sins and the failures are merely glossed over.

One undertaking in particular should really tell you something about the UPA’s legacy: The creation of a “full-fledged hatchery unit for breeding and rearing ornamental fishes".

What has this government achieved? Tell us at