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"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

What does it mean to be an Indian leader?

January 23, 2009

The WIP
the women's international perspective
January 20, 2009
 
by Tanvi
 
Among the findings of a new survey, "World Leaders," to be conducted every two months by European countries and media agencies, voted Dalai Lama as the most respected and popular world leader. "The world is yearning for, if not religious, at least a humanistic approach that puts care and concern for one's fellow men at the top of the agenda," said an American strategist, Breant Scowcroft. Today India is being tested like never before. And in the coming months the world, and in particular the global business community, will be watching for the answer to a crucial question: Whether India can overcome its greatest obstacles to advancement, which include both terrorism and India itself. With a series of terror attacks in the past few months, the pertinent question is; whether the leaders of the country will act in such turbulent times.
 
Says, danseuse Mallika Sarabhai, "We need for India the kind of leader of grit and transparency that Obama is offering to the US. It is not a question merely of age but of the ability to think of India, not of five year terms in power, not of oneself or of scoring points but of a new India in a new world scenario. We have been copiers in recent times. We need to join with the world's intelligence systems and work as a world team fighting terrorists everywhere. Terror, HIV and bird flu, has no boundaries. Till we continue ego games of taking credit and scoring brownie points none of these issues will be solved."
 
Indians are out on the roads with candles and an indomitable will to fight back. They have found the will to fight back but will India's government show them the way? The changes required in homeland security will be massive. The country, for instance, is reported to have only 3,500 intelligence agents for 1.1 billion people. Compare that with the U.S., where the FBI employs 12,000 agents for 300 million residents. Says world billiards champ Geet Sethi, "We must realise that India is still a very poor country. In order to achieve a massive homeland security, we will need to eliminate corruption from our system. Do you have any idea how pathetically the police force is paid in our country? So how can we expect the same levels of awareness which US showed after the 9/11 attacks? We surely need politicians who are decisive, much more aware and will embody qualities of an aware individual. Dr Manmohan Singh is an able individual but his toughness is an issue." Which means, there is no short cut to building a country's leadership in a place like India, where the leadership needs to be steeped in the culture and country's goals. Youth today have lost faith in 'Gandhigiri'.
 
Says actor and ex Miss World, Diana Hayden, "After the first attack, we continued to sit like ducks till they attacked us again. You can't offer them your left cheek if they slap you on your right. I think India needs a leader at present who will after some concrete proof take strong action and give it back. Where is all the money that we pay to the government going when innocent people and civilians die fighting with the terrorists? What India is lacking is an infrastructure and "aware" individuals who will retaliate."
 
In a nation as diverse as ours, it pays to build culturally inclusive leadership which will percolate deep into the minds of every individual. Unfortunately India does not have an environment of trust. Everyone believes in working for their own interest. Says adman and brand consultant Prasoon Joshi, "Our country is completely confused right now, like the way I showed in the film - Rang De Basanti. What we need is an ideological stand. We need a leader like Mahatma Gandhi whose language reached the whole country. Gandhi never said don't make your defence mechanism strong. Our youth right now is directionless. We need thought leadership, which believes and understands that if such things keep happening again and again, how risky it will be to push forward." Agrees music composer Shankar Mahadevan, "I think the country lacks humanitarian qualities."
 
Freedom is a given in our lives. It was not earlier when our grandparents lived. But that does not deter a group of young IITians forming a political party to save the country. Says the party president, Tanmay Rajpurohit, the national president of the party and B Tech in aerospace from IIT Bombay, "It's a tough job, but we want to follow the order of the day. Its important that the country gets effective aggression because the older politicians are too busy serving their own interests." True that more daunting is the challenge for India—with 22 official languages, dozens of political parties, and a corrupt bureaucracy—to make the changes it needs with due speed but its high time, India invested in leadership to be among the very best!
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