A heads up: I might make some idealistic statements – recently read Don Quijote de la Mancha. :)
In my previous post I essentially said that the youth of the nation are apathetic to politics. I also said that it is not necessarily true that the engineers (the acknowledged big brains) are the best to lead the nation.
The other day, my friends and I were up all night. I guess we were revisiting good ole college days. We had just watched a movie and had nothing much to do, so we were just talking. I don’t know how we got around to the topic of politics, but it is indeed strange that we are speaking more often about it than I ever did in the past.
We were discussing the history of this nation and how certain families and parties have had a large and not particularly great(unanimously agreed) influence on the nation. I do know we should do a little more research on Indian History during partition and understand what were the forces in play, but from our preliminary and naive understanding, we believe the partition happened purely because Nehru couldn’t swallow his pride and let Maulana lead.
In the subsequent years, Nehru was quite a tyrant and tried to control several things including who became President. Unfortunately he received no support from Sardar Patel and thus Dr. Rajendra Prasad did end up becoming the first Indian President. Petty politics aside, he was the prime reason for Socialism to creep into India. It stayed longer than it should have and wreaked quite a bit of havoc. It is not all Nehru’s doing, but the almost nepotistic succession with Indira following soon after Nehru left the political scene.
The Indian political history is really funny. Pardon me for the trivia, but I can not resist it.
- The longest living Prime Minister (Gulzarilal Nanda) served twice – once for 13 days (the shortest term ever) and another time for a whopping month and 8 days.
- The second shortest term was served by Atal Behari Vajapayee (16 days).
- There have been 11 Prime Ministers in 60 years with the longest terms being: 17 years(Nehru) and Indira Gandhi (15 years).
- The Nehru Gandhi family has been in power for a cumulative 37 years officially. If you count what’s happening now, it will increase!
- A single party was in power for 47 of 60 years.
There were leaders from 4 other parties in power:
- Janata Party (3 years, 2 leaders)
- Janata Dal (3 years, 3 leaders)
- Samajwadi Janata Party (7 months, 1 leader – thankfully!)
- Bharatiya Janata Party (6 years, 2 terms, 1 leader – no points for guessing who!)
How can the nation let the same jokers lead the nation for such a long time, especially when there has not been any significant improvement from their regimes? Some of the worst scandals and ill handled crises have been in their regimes – Indo-China war, Separation of Bangladesh, the Emergency, the Sikh carnage, Bhopal Gas, formation of LTTE etc. There is a long list but these are the stark ones that come to mind.
I think it is pretty obvious that I am trying to drill across that being from a Dynasty shouldn’t count in a democracy, but unfortunately that doesn’t seem to be the case. The old man is rumored to have died of syphyllis – I repeat – rumored! Two of three family members were assassinated – can’t the rest take a hint?
Are we really so starved of good people in this nation that can lead that we need to cling on to old dynasties? That too with one firang, and the other two NRIs for most of their consequential lives? Should these people really be leading the nation? Do they have a unique understanding of people’s problems? Or do they have a unique understanding of the administration machine to get things done faster? AFAIK neither! But then again, I may be wrong.
There is a new youth brigade in Politics with the degrees like MBAs from high flying Ivy League schools and so forth. Would they make good leaders? Perhaps. Definitely better than a dynasty! But I think the fundamental questions remain the same. Can they work the creaky machine that is the Administrative Services to really better the lives of the hundreds of millions of Indians that need help without disturbing the rest too much?
I think our nation needs leaders who understand the country from end to end – a person well travelled (not on govt. or party money, but his/her own), a person who understands economics, law, business and large scale project planning and execution. Such a person would be ideally suited for the job. I suppose it would take someone more than 2 decades to get good at all the things I mentioned above, which is probably why we vote for only gray haired/balding people.
India needs some serious change management. We need to manage change at various levels – the political change, economic change, social change, cultural change, environmental change and global change. We need leaders who have steered turnarounds (not necessarily business turnarounds), but turnarounds in more than three of these spheres. There are several great Indians who have. We need such people at the helm - people who truly want to architect and create improvement from the basement upwards.
We still have huge quesitons as to how we can find such people? Fund such people to campaign? Provide training to others (like me) to become such people? When will political parties open up to allow youngsters to participate in the process? When will Political recruiment take place from campuses? After all, every party (if managed legally) would need the same set of professionals at a company. There is a lot of intellectual help that parties can take from bright young individuals. When will politics become truly inclusive?