Sunday, July 31, 2011

Why the greens miss Jairam Ramesh

Over the last couple of years, I’d often see press releases from environmental groups or an angry letter on a mailing list lashing out at Ramesh. He may have promised to rethink the Renuka dam, or allowed more construction on the Narmada. Whatever he did, Ramesh was making his presence felt, and a lot of people are wondering if Jayanthi Natarajan will follow suit.

What distinguishes a visible minister from an invisible one is that the former takes decisions that matter. Some turn out to be stupid decisions. Sometimes, they run contrary to the plans of the political party leadership. But a good minister must take contrary decisions and make frank statements. And the public must believe that the minister likes to use his brains. Even if his thinking is not in alignment with our own hopes and fears. But at least, let him apply himself to the task at hand, enforce rules, ask questions.

Ramesh seemed to have applied himself, as far as he was allowed to. But I’m not mourning his transfer to Rural Development. Visible ministers are desperately needed in every ministry. Already, after accepting his new portfolio, Ramesh has stressed the need to revisit land acquisition laws. Perhaps, he will once again find himself on the wrong side of POSCO.

Read full piece here

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