Millennium Post

Leader by inheritance or merit?

The nomination of Rahul Gandhi as the number two person in the Congress may satisfy the average Congressman but opens the leadership debate nationally as never before. Leadership is earned not inherited! One of the fall out of recent events in the capital that got the civil society thinking about a host of issues is the utter lack of leadership and in turn role models thus leading to a leadership deficient society.
A group of young men recently stated that the older generation had the likes of Gandhi, Nehru and a host of other leaders to emulate. They also stated that our generation had not produced any worthwhile leader of substance and barring aside one or two the generation has given the youth nothing to follow. They also stated that we had given them or were guilty of giving them caste, communal and crony capital leadership and had left them with very little to emulate barring aside a few odd sports personalities. These accusations do have some elements of truth because we as a nation invested in one family, the business leadership was never highlighted, soldiers were discarded, faceless bureaucrats control our destiny and political foes were kept in check, thus India today lacks role models of substance and no visible leader on the horizon. Civil society has therefore; chosen to rise to take matters in their own hands and the time when a messiah could rise has not risen. Is there such a leadership deficit is the root question or is sycophancy the answer?.

The post-1990 generation also accuses us of nurturing corruption. They state that your generation had the time to stand in a queue and watch helplessly as those who paid ten bucks to the clerk broke the line and completed their task. The choice was either wait or pay up and most of you took the easy road. Our generation thanks to lack of infrastructure not created by your generation has to struggle and move on in life, hence we lack time. Our requirement is a job must be done in a transparent manner at the click of a mouse. Is it all that simple and has society come to such a pass is the root question? What are the lessons we are giving to our children at home because the first tender steps are implied by role models and parents as well as teachers who make the first few role models.

The role model as a concept is a well-defined concept, which is a behavioral science and starts from home. The parents are the first role models and thereafter the teacher, or anyone who sets an example. He is a person with common sense from whom a person imbibes a set of behavioral values. It is someone who does not call attention or someone who makes a fortune selling him as one. It thus transpires that society automatically selects the best role models andin this environment the message that they get is sab chalta hai. This acts as a catalyst thus picking up the wrong lessons lifelong. Certain aspects are not institutionalised but a set of convention exists thus are we giving our children the best set of values based on the current circumstances is the basic question?

The role model is a set of expectations that society places on an individual. It is an unspoken bond and is judged by the behaviour of an individual. By an unspoken consensus certain actions and behaviors are considered appropriate or inappropriate. Thus the role of doctors’, teachers and other professionals are pretty well defined. The easiest identifiable role models are glamour stars and sportsmen. The question that one needs to ask, ‘Are they in it for the organisation or themselves’? It therefore, transpires that society has well established roles for all ‘is each and every one of us playing our part or do we just expect others to do their bit’?

In day to day life those people who affect the average person the most are looked upon and thus occupy center stage thereby, becoming important and thus automatically become leaders.

Thus the political class, business captains, sports personalities, cine stars and currently in India the civil society activists occupy center stage. Some become brand ambassadors others want to become mass scale leaders but there is a dearth of leaders at all levels. It is the political class because of the nature of responsibility entrusted on them by people and the trust that the citizen grants them to run their destiny for a period of time that has eroded the leadership quotient the most in the country.

The political climate in India does not favour creation of a leader. The political class is hereditary in nature while another section is busy stalling parliament and has not gotten over the image that its remote controlled from elsewhere. Regional parties have their own agenda best seen in the Rajya Sabha debate, and the rise of a politician’s son is becoming a daily occurrence in elections just like sunrise for the day. A true leader has an independent mind, a mass following, fiery speech, ability to sway masses, courage and conviction to meet the aam aadmi not water cannon them. Today politics has become all about appeasement and reservation thus it is literally where a person is born, reservation counts by birth and hereditary.

The average politician is in the hate list of the youth. Why is the politician being treated with disdain when they play an important part in nation building? The reasons are many. Over a period of time the political class has become aloof and unreachable only to appear with folded hands asking for votes. The next is politics has become a family affair and hereditary is the strongest claim. Society is divided functionally and also on the basis of votes, which includes caste and reservation.

Whereas civil society, which is a minuscule part of the population comprising of professionals, such as doctors, engineers, lawyers and others considers merit to be the sole criteria, the political class sees otherwise because of vote bank politics. In short the intelligentsia and the powerful and industrialists see the political class as red thus the nation stands to be the loser. In this fight all elements pull in different directions and the net sufferer is the Indian State. The leadership slot is wide open and the final word will be of the people.

The author is a retired brigadier

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