We might think we have seen all kinds of politicians. Politicians that are not into politics but maintain power through control on actual politicians, politicians who are in it just for money and will do anything for few extra bucks, politicians who are womanizers, politicians whose are more interested in street fights, thugs turned politicians, politicians who have turned thug, journalists turned politicians, politicians who only appear on tv, politicians who use religion or caste as their usp, politicians whose core skill is speaking excellent english, politicians whose core skill is not speaking good english, some of them come from great families of power, some of them take pride in coming from humble background on their own merits. This is not all, we have seen politicians who are accused of murder, scams involving astronomical figures and/or scandals with women with zero figure. Some politicians are hustlers. They get things done no matter what needs to be done. They build that highway or bridge. They convince the witness to back out or the police to shut the file. Some lawyers turned politicians hold sway over supreme court judges. They present irrefutable arguments from whichever side that pays the most. Some politicians regale the voters with their brilliant oratory as if the mother sarasvati herself has touched their tongue. Overall all these people are where they are because of some skill and some or lots of luck.
However there is only one politician that has impressed me in this deck of weird cards. This is the only politician who has been compared to Humboldt. We can ignore the fact that the comparison was brought forward by the bottom feeders in a ministry that this impressive leader chaired. Humboldt is considered to be one of the most influential european figures when it comes to education. He wrote the book Limits of State Action which inspired John Stuart Mill’s famous essay on Liberty. He was the founder of Berlin University and most western world and Japan modeled their university systems after it. While most ordinary politicians might fall prey to petty flattery of merely calling them “visionary” or “tall figure”, this gentleman politician was not moved by even this exceptional level of flattery. He has the clam composure of an individual who would see Frederick Hayek and Salma Hayek with the same calm attitude and despite the fact that he was compared to Humboldt, he might think of it as a county in California.
In computer science we have a notion of no-op. Certain programming instructions are considered no-op when their existence or absence has no impact on anything. They are harmless. A bit like the presence of those background dancers in the 5 row behind the hero on lavish sets of a Sanjay Lila Bhansali film, a bit like Karan Johar in Dilwale Dulhaniya le jayenge or a story in any Salman Khan movie. A bit like Shatrughna in Ramayana or Margadarshak mandal in BJP or Shatrughna in BJP. Being a no-op is hard. Even Katrina Kaif is said to have learned to move a few facial muscle after a fairly long presence in bollywood.
This gem of a politician is the living embodiment of no-op-ness. A political equivalent of spiritual shunyataa (zeroness). For the years he was MHRD, his greatest achievement was not doing anything. Something he proudly cited as an achievement in an english statement that sounded like a Marathi medium schoolboy has just gone through a Rapidex English Speaking course. The achievement of not doing anything in MHRD is a bit like a firefighter claiming he protected the fire that was burning the house down. But only this tall figure of Indian politics can get away with citing it as an achievement.
As a friend told me, if you want to know what issue the pradhan sevak does not give two pennies about, then please check what ministry or the issue he has given to this politician in question. I find it extremely refreshing that the climate change is being handed over to this gentleman as it reassures me that Indian leadership has not bought into the nonsense of climate change. Having this politician in the same deck as AOC or Greta Thunberg is very fitting and the biggest FU pradhan sevak could have thrown into the face of the world’s climate change lobby.
In one of his interviews where a foreign journalist asked him about his plan for action on climate change he struggled to name 5 elements he is supposed to care about ( I think he mean pancha-maha-bhutas but did not go past earth, water and fire) . Patient journalist asked him if he had anything concrete, she probably expected something like AOC’s green new deal. “This is concrete” he said with such panache that it reminded viewers of movie 300’s iconic dialog “This is Sparta”. To the added effect whoever listened to that interview also felt a bit like being kicked into abyss. The interviewer most certainly did. The rumor is that when this no-op minister stares into the abyss the abyss does not stare back, it turns away, in fear.
Do not get me wrong. This is not a personal criticism of the no-op politician. We have seen through the example of the scion of India’s first political family that ordinary man when burdened with a large responsibilities can fail and fumble. But the question as to why the responsibility is on those weak shoulders is often very clear. Sometimes it is the parent’s love for the child in a la-duryodhan fashion. Most often it is the fact that despite being useless, the politician holds something else that is valuable to the leadership. Caste, religion, smaller factions, pure violence potential, nuisance value if the person joins opposition etc. For the no-op leader however this is not clear.
This person is a simple gentleman as the people who are close to him would confirm. He has not amassed any wealth that is more than rounding off error for India’s biggest politicians. He has no caste or religion based backing. In the city he is from, he has absolutely no political influence. He has no loyal support base that will come on streets for him. Finding his fan is harder than finding die hard fans of Nayan Mongia. He is not a political hustler who can move people or money. No politician has to worry about him when making any decisions about his city or state. He does not have any vices that can get him or his party into trouble nor he is helping anyone to maintain such vices. He is not blessed with oratory like his bosses and whatever he writes is often the praise of his boss. A look at his twitter timeline suggests that his primary job is to praise the visionary or compassionate or historic decisions of the boss. Basically a tweet bot with a blue tick mark. In his entire career there is not a single major decision he took, there is not a single major project he completed nor he got into any controversy of any kind which in Indian context means he did not do anything that has an impact. He sometimes reminds me of the snake around Lord Shiva’s neck in old Ramanand Sagar tv serials. That static and a plastic snake that did not move, that did not scare and that did not even remote represent what it was supposed to represent. There it was just a no-op prop, for the cameras.
The opposition party has not criticized him at all for anything over the years. If at all; some of them have praised him. Indian courts have not got involved in anything he has done. For observers of Indian politics this means he has not really done anything.
I am pretty sure he is a nice person in real life. He is probably one of those few politicians left in India who are actually harmless in a sense they won’t get you killed, send ED/CBI after you or try to flirt with your wife. Being kind and nice is a virtue. Being no-op in a high position is a puzzle.
The problem is not with the no-op individual. The problem is with the system and people that have put a no-op person in a very high position. A position that should have undone the evil designs of Sibbal and NAC. Someone who should have repealed RTE and 93rd amendment. It sends a signal to others as to what kind of behavior is rewarded. It sends a signal to others as to how much importance the boss gives to certain ministries and certain issues. It speaks volumes about the insecurity of the boss and his desire to surround himself with no-op people. The gentleman in question has been in a position which was once decorated by someone like Murali Manohar Joshi who made a huge impact on that field and he is now succeeded by someone whose even name we can’t remember leave alone his actual impact. As we all know Murali Manohar Joshi himself was put in to Margadashak Mandal, the amount of Margadarshan done by this mandal is actually same as the amount of wisdom granted by wisdom tooth.
Mr. No-Op however is a reminder. A reminder that we now prefer dwarfs in Indian politics, tiny figures arranged around an insecure personality cult. India was once led by a great king who supposedly created an army of clay and then through his sheer will put life into those clay soldiers. Perhaps a proverbial way of describing an influential leader who turned even ordinary people into go getters with fire in their belly. What we experience with no-op leaders is the opposite: that we now prefer people who are pretty much as good as soldiers of clay. Like the 90s movie where the hero was surrounded by effeminate beta males so hero’s manliness is more pronounced and the lead actress surrounded by her fat friends with unibrow to highlight the lead actresses’ own beauty, Mr No-op does do one job well, that is to project how his boss is a such doer.