Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The Need of the Hour: Responsible Leadership

There used to be this ad on tv a few months ago, I forget for what product. The political drama in the wake of the Bombay siege brought it to mind:

It had this typical Indian politician relaxing on the lawn of his bungalow, surrounded by sycophantic aides and giving an interview to a bunch of reporters about contesting an upcoming election, when a young man comes up to him and starts shooting questions about his qualifications - his education, previous work experience and so on.

The politician is surprised by this line of questioning, wondering how it matters for someone contesting an election, and asks why the youth wants to know all this.

The youth replies that its only natural to ask these questions of anyone applying for a job.

The politician is taken aback: job? What job???

To which the youth calmly states: the job of running this country.

The politician is left stunned.


Running any country is a job, a monumental job that requires consistent and coordinated efforts at multiple levels. And because it entails the security and welfare of citizens, on which no price can be put, these jobs come with an enormous amount of power and responsibility.

As a management student, one of the earliest lessons we learnt was that authority and responsibility must go hand in hand. If you are entrusted with authority and power over something, you are also responsible to see that the work is carried out.

But in Indian politics, "responsibility" is a dirty word. Our politicians want to win elections, win power, and once that's done, the rest of their term is basically spent in calculating how to hold on to that power for the maximum possible time. But very few accept the responsibility that comes with the power.

Post the attacks, Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh tells the media "If any responsibility falls on me, I have offered to resign." IF any responsibility falls on you???? You're "Chief Minister" of a state that has suffered the country's most brutal terrorist attack and you still have to wonder if any responsibility falls on you???

Deshmukh's on his way out, and good riddance!!! The lobbying to be his successor has been going on for a while and a new Chief should be named any moment now.

But it really doesn't matter who the new person is, all that will count is what he does with his power. Will he use it responsibly, promptly and unswervingly to get answers? To crack down harshly on the forces of terror? To put measures into place that ensure we're never this vulnerable again?

We are a nation that abounds with politicians, but is starved of leaders. And that really is the need in these extraordinary times, not destructive politics where people's actions are constantly geared towards maintaining power, but constructive leadership at all levels of government, where people put aside egos and personal ambition to work, actually work, for the betterment of the nation.


  1. Anonymous6:56 PM

    I so agree with you fully. When power is not used responsibly... or the person in power has other interests than the nterest of his people you then you have a bad leader.

  2. Yes I've seen the ad....oh yes its a good one.
    "IF any responsibility falls on you???? You're "Chief Minister" of a state that has suffered the country's most brutal terrorist attack and you still have to wonder if any responsibility falls on you???"
    Seriously...he's a joke. Did u see the press conference or whatever...half the time he was trying to get one up on the reporters treating their questions like some joke...I felt ashamed.
    And creeps like Achudanandan are like a black mark against humanity...seriously I blame the people who voted these jokers into power.

  3. "We are a nation that abounds with politicians, but is starved of leaders."

    Couldn't agree with you more. The thing with politicos these days is you either have rats or snakes..you cant choose either of them, coz they plague and poison the society. Most of them are corrupt and the voter has to settle for the "less corrupt" one according to his sensibilities. There are a few good ones, but when the entire pond is dirty, who cares about one or two healthy fishes? Their voice often goes unheard.

    There was this party of IITians called Lok Paritran that was coming up a few years ago. I wonder where they are these days..havent kept track of them.

    I remember the case of some CM, i'm not sure if it was Mr Deshmukh, who had got himself a private jet to charter around and no one bothers about giving a dedicated plane to the NSG. That is how things work here, dont they?

    Mr Deshmukh should be reminded of his surname...it has a "Desh" and a "Mukh"...rather than pass vague statements, he can at least face the nation with some dignity..guess thats not a word in his dictionary...and never can be!

  4. it's surprising nay how there are these numerous qualifications and evaluation criteria for jobs across the country and how much we study and prepare so that we're employable but when it comes to the important jobs like running the country we allow illiterats and unqualified people to get elected and run it.

  5. yes seen the advert-very jaago re types...
    i totally agree with you on the politicians being selfish...I'm happy Deshmukh is on his way out - but then again who will replace him?? I don't see any good people on any of the parties, so wonder even when we have to vote who do we choose?
    and it's so sad that at a time like this every party is playing politics and finding faults with their rivals - from Naqi making those stupid remarks to Achudanandan's petty talks, everyone is trying to explout the situation here. They will not learn a lesson till one of their near and dear ones are lost the same way...alas...

  6. Agnes - we have soooo many bad leaders, its unbelievable!!!

    Reflections - yes I did see the press conference and I agree, he was treating the whole thing very lightly. I wanted to bash him senseless with that same mike he was speaking into!!! And Achutanandan....I know people say you should respect your elders, but that piece of trash so does NOT deserve it!!!

    Smriti - absolutely true!!! I guess ol' Vilasrao never paid the same kind of attention to his surname as you did. Perhaps if he had he wouldn't have turned out to be such a shameless b*stard.

    Mumbai Diva - thank you :)

    A - I swear!!! Everyone wanting to enter politics should be graduates at least and be made to undergo some form of further intelligence & aptitude testing.

  7. Well said Shaolom... Its really pathetic that the current Mumbai terrors have showcased the clinks in our political system. Not even a single politician coming forward to manage the current situation.

    And regarding the pair "Power-Responsibility" concept,if our politicians would have understood its meaning,we would be in a golden age...

    Makes me wonder like Iaccocca, "Where are all the Leaders !!"

  8. Anonymous9:04 AM

    Shalom -- we do too if you get my drift.

  9. Deeplydip - its very sad that even when we can exercise our vote, we have to choose between the lesser of two evils ...... there's nobody that we can wholeheartedly give our vote to.

    Prashant - it was so shocking to see how cool and un-serious people like Deshmukh and RR Patil were when they were speaking to the press. Like Reflections said, they were almost treating the whole thing like a joke!!! We can only hope that that golden age arrives someday at least.....

    Agnes - I know!!! Every nation has way more than their fair share of bad politicians ..... its a struggle to find someone honest and dedicated, and an even bigger struggle for them to remain so as they work amidst the sharks.

  10. HA! nice post there.We need an upheaval!!! YAY!!!

  11. so true.. as if seeing all the horrific attacks those 3 continuous days wasnt enough.. now these politicians and their careless statements on tv are so agitating.. but at the end of the day , its us who put the politicians there.. "we" need to wake up!

  12. WFC - thanks! We definitely do need an upheaval, but an upheaval in how our government functions, how our security agencies function .... but we most definitely do not need the kind of upheaval that escalates into war and violence.

    ISH - true, we the people definitely need to be more active participants in the whole government process, but as a lot of people said here .... we don't have much of a choice, its always between the lesser of two evils, not some great candidate we would willingly vote for.