Indian Decade

Combating Complacency

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s latest cabinet reshuffle smacks of an unhealthy complacency.

Last week, I interviewed a young entrepreneur who told me his comics publishing company was growing briskly and that he had therefore been looking for a larger office. He said he’d quickly outgrown his 350-square-foot studio in a not so upscale part of Mumbai.

Of course he was excited about the move. After all, it’s a sign of growth and success. But as we talked about his business, he told me that what he loved about the small space he has worked in is that he feels it keeps complacency at bay. Indeed, he told me that even in any new, larger, office he plans to try to maintain some of the discomforts of a cramped space as a reminder.

I thought of his words when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced a much-anticipated but unspectacular cabinet reshuffle last Wednesday. As Tavleen Singh wrote in her Indian Express column, it was a pointless endeavour that failed to energise the cabinet or bring in a much-needed batch of fresh talent.

This is an utterly inappropriate time for the government to be taking it easy, especially considering the number of major controversies surrounding it. The complacency that exists likely stems from the ruling party’s big election win in 2009, as well as the virtual absence of a viable opposition.

The young entrepreneur was right—there needs to be the threat of an impending problem to push us to better ourselves. It’s a lesson Prime Minister Singh should take note of.