11 May, 2021

No PM Is An Island

To call a TV meet and mumble zeros, as Dr Singh did, is suicidal

Illustration by Sorit
No PM Is An Island

If this is the age of television news, then Dr Manmohan Singh clearly belongs to another era. During the 1998 elections, we were doing a news programme on a day in the life of the economist-politician. It was his first electoral battle and the reticent academic in him was clearly troubled by the intrusive nature of the camera. Already tired of being jostled by Congress workers on the campaign trail, he appeared reluctant to come out of his shell. Finally, late in the afternoon, we learnt that it was Dr Singh’s grand-daughter’s birthday and a small party was being organised in the garden. Could we film it, we wondered, sensing a chance to show Dr Singh the family man to the wider world. No cameras, this is a private moment, was the cryptic answer.

‘Privacy’ in the 24x7 news whirl may seem incongruous for someone in public life. A Laloo Prasad Yadav will take you to his cowshed, even brush his teeth in front of the camera, and an Obama family holiday will be splashed across the front pages, but Manmohan guards his...

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