Wanted A leader with a vision

Wanted  A leader with a vision

Calling the Prime Minister a 'chor' (thief) is a national shame. Slamming the establishment is something we all cherish, but when it comes repeatedly...

Calling the Prime Minister a 'chor' (thief) is a national shame. Slamming the establishment is something we all cherish, but when it comes repeatedly from eminent industrialists like Azim Premji and Ratan Tata, then we must understand that there is something wrong. The IT czar had expressed deep concern about the state of India’s economy and stated that “we are working without a leader as a country.”

On another occasion, the Wipro chairman had warned that the government suffers from a total lack of decision-making and that was something which could cost the country dear. It is not Premji alone who has aired the caution, but other entrepreneurs of the country as well. Former chairman of the Tata Group Ratan Tata said that the leadership deficit in India was aggravating the economic crisis. “There are leaders whom I’ve respected all through my life for their public life. But something has happened that has diffused the leadership. We don’t have leadership that we have been talking about, that is leading from the front,” Tata said in an exclusive interview to CNN-IBN on the leadership deficit and economic crisis in the country.

The rupee is losing its value day by day and has hit a historic low Rs 69 against the US dollar, stock market is volatile, jobs have shrunk, the economy is crawling, inflation and interest rates remain high, the current account deficit is threatening, manufacturing has hit the buffers and the opposition complains of policy paralysis. Terrorists are striking across the country and the neighbours are taunting us, whether it is China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka or even a small island like Mali. The government seems to have no clue and has run short of ideas. To make matters worse, India’s polity looks broken and chaotic; bi-partisan system has collapsed; plurality of parties has made way for tenuous alliances and nothing much gets done these days in parliament.

Never have the headlines been harsher, the media is no more enamoured of Manmohan Singh’s leadership. India Today called him Dr Dolittle. “Descent of A Man” was Outlook magazine’s cover, which said that Singh was piloting a sinking ship. Analysts say Singh’s image has taken a beating for a variety of reasons. Historian Ramachandra Guha says he’s “timid and status quoist” and should have put in his papers in 2009 after he led the UPA government to a second term. He describes the Prime Minister as “fatally handicapped by his timidity, complacency and intellectual dishonesty.”
While the Indian media comments are nasty, the foreign media is nastier. Time magazine, in its cover story titled “A Man in Shadow” called him an “Underachiever,” while the Washington Post said, “his image is one of a dithering ineffectual bureaucrat presiding over a deeply corrupt government … he has become a tragic figure in history.” The unkindest remark was when London’s The Independent called him “Sonia’s poodle.” The Economist says Singh is a bureaucrat at heart, not a leader. Bloomberg in a recent damning report said, “India’s economy needs early elections … Manmohan Singh is a spent force and the greatest honour he can do for the country is by his early exit.”
The Prime Minister must take the blame for all these adverse comments. He was at the centre of a storm in the 2G Spectrum and the coal allocation scams. Singh has for some time been facing severe criticism for allowing the economy to slide by not taking politically tough reform decisions. Many allegations of corruption and scams have not helped his cause either. But he did not show enough spine when the corruption scandals erupted and the opposition parties cornered him for direct involvement in the scams. Anyone else in his position would have resigned long ago. He should have gone to the party, that is Sonia Gandhi, and said, “I refuse to carry the can.” But he did not do that. The Prime Minister’s former press advisor Sanjay Baru says, “He never assumed that authority.” Manmohan Singh is a person known for his erudition and integrity, yet history will remember him as the worst Prime Minister India ever had, not to mention stop-gap prime ministers like V P Singh, Chandrasekhar, Deve Gowda and Inder Gujral.
India’s tragedy is that there is hardly anyone who we can look forward to even after the 2014 general election. It is significant that while much has been made of Narendra Modi as the probable prime ministerial candidate of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, the party leadership has yet to sort out the differences. He has the leadership qualities – he is down-to-earth, a tough task master, an able and inspiring leader. He is also a great administrator and, like Atal Behari Vajpayee, a great orator. But he cannot carry the NDA alliance parties with him because the ghost of Godhra is still haunting him.
That brings Rahul Gandhi to the forefront. The Congress party is expecting its sinking fortunes to be salvaged by this young leader, although Rahul has been unsuccessful so far in most of the election battles he has supervised for the party. He seems to possess neither leadership vision nor the ability to articulate it clearly, the two attributes that his party most needs at this critical juncture. He has rarely spoken in parliament, and when he has done so, his performance has generally been lacklustre.
So far he has been handling organizational matters and has shared no responsibility in the running of the government. Reluctant like his father, he is media shy and never interacted with the captains of industry. He makes news when he shares a meal with a Harijan family or something like that. Today’s India is not the country of the 1980s, when the fresh face of Rajiv Gandhi was enough to give a new lease of life to a doddering old party. India today is an impatient country, demanding good governance and resolute readership. The Congress party has now grown out of touch with the aspirations of ordinary Indians, and seems bereft of new ideas. It is indeed a tragedy for India that a person like Gandhi, whose only claim to fame is his surname, is being projected as the future leader.
Our political system is such that it doesn’t allow a new leader to emerge. The country needs a leader who can see the direction it should take, understand the difficult steps required, and persuade the countrymen that their struggles are worthwhile. P V Narasimha Rao did not have the charisma of a great leader, but he changed the future of the country. The situation is worse than in 1991 and we need a leader with a vision.
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