CHURUMURI POLL: Manmohan, an underachiever?

There is nothing more disastrous than a PR drive gone awry.

For months and years, prime minister Manmohan Singh has pretended the Indian media doesn’t exist or that he doesn’t care if it does. He has given no one-on-one interviews to any Indian print, electronic or digital interrogator, and has opted to meet editors in groups where no supplementaries can be asked.

So as the scams and scandals enveloped his government, all he could do was lie low and hope his image and integrity would carry the day.

With the economy in the doldrums and Pranab Mukherjee out as the finance minister, the PM’s media mandarins have sensed that the time is nigh to pump up his image. Suddenly, there are stories all over the papers of how proactive Manmohan has become. He answered questions from Hindustan Times in an interview last week. And he even gave Time magazine access to 7, Race Course Road.

If his media advisors were hoping for a nice little plug, this is what resulted.

Not surprisingly, everybody in the Congress is hopping mad that the prime minister is being called what all except those who have read a newspaper or magazine or watched television in the last four years were calling him. Secretly, they are also pointing fingers at the glowing cover Time did of Narendra Modi.

Questions: Is Manmohan Singh an underachiever or is this Time magazine’s euphemism for “failure”? Should we really be bothered if the Indian edition of Time (the story doesn’t appear in the American edition) calls him or anybody else an underachiever or failure? Does the Indian thirst for a “white certificate” signify a colonial hangover?

What is the headline would you have given if you were in charge of giving headlines in Time magazine?

External reading: India overachieves in prickliness over Time cover

Also readWhy Manmohan should talk to media more

Why PM is hopelessly wrong about the media

Is the PM right about the Indian media?

And who’s afraid of the one-on-one pow-wow?