Monday, February 11, 2008

Where are great Indian leaders?

The current Indian leadership (and many from the past) is hardly inspiring. Moreover, it has no legacy it can boast of if & when it steps down. It had (has?) a great opportunity to serve the nation & go down in history with high praise. For that matter, every leader had this opportunity. Yet they chose to serve their own narrow interests.

We aren't short of great men, but all the great leaders were undone or sidelined by our partisan politics. Congress itself had great leaders within itself. Lokmanya Tilak, Sardar patel, Lal Bahadur Shastri (who gave us the slogan "Jai Jawan Jai Kisan") to name a few, yet they were sidelined. The Nehru-Gandhi leadership is hardly inspiring. Their contribution to our freedom struggle cannot be denied, however, they weren't visionary leaders. The duo had this politically correct nature of leadership. Had it not been the case, we would have had Sardar Patel as our first premier. P V Narsimha Rao proved to be one of the best Prime Ministers we had, but he didn't have popular support within the Congress. And all those scandals didn't help his cause either. We have always lacked strong, visionary leaders that were heading our governments. If we had strong, decisive leaders who would not be bogged down by international pressure, but would argue in our national interest instead, we would not have had the many lingering conflicts we continue to have with our neighbors.

The current leadership is headed by an honest economist whom all respected. He is attributed with the economic liberalization of our country. But whether we was the right choice for the Prime Minister's chair is greatly debatable. He was chosen knowing that few would contest his candidature. He seemed perfect for a controversy free mandate in a coalition. Otherwise how would you achieve a majority mandate in a coalition? He has proven ineffective in tackling the many serious issue facing our nation viz. terrorism, poverty, infrastructure, internal security, border issues etc. He comes across as soft & indecisive on these issues. It may very well be due to the fact that, control lies elsewhere. He seems to not have the free hand to run his government. However, it is hard to understand, why a self respecting man like him continues with this ineffective government. Why is he bowing to pressure from his coalition partners & not doing what's in the interest of our nation? Would it be then appropriate to say - an honest economist does not maketh a great leader. Well, calling him an good economist will be difficult when you learn that, under his leadership, a whopping 12,000 crore rupees! have been spent on the 'National Rural Employment Gurantee Scheme', which has failed. Only 3% of the registered received the promised employment of 100 days. The average was 18 days.

The story continues with other leaders. Our home minister believes in staying away from his duties. He seems content in just completing his term. There has hardly been any contribution on his part. We are faced with increasingly brazen terrorists attacks, but his leadership has proved ineffective in tackling it. He could have acted tough on terrorism & secured our fellow countrymen. The issue of illegal immigrants continues to exist. But alas, partisan politics prevents action.

Our defense minister's only claim to the post seems his 'clean' record so far. Our finance minister, a brilliant man that he is, only believes in taxing the salaried class more (fringe benefit tax, withdrawl tax etc).

The UPA government only seems eager to discredit or point out the failures of the NDA government. At every juncture, this government never misses an opportunity to accuse the previous office bearers. If only the UPA government stopped this & did what was necessary, it would have done good for the country. Pointing out mistakes is fine as long as you correct them, but that is not the case here. Merely listing the shortfalls of the previous government does not add credibility, but action does. Lip service has never achieved anything, action has. If the previous governments are to blame for all our problems, then by that logic, the Congress has been in office for 50 of the 60 years. Five decades of it's 'Garibi Hatao' policies have not yeilded any results. In fact, there has been an increase of 75 million people that fall below the poverty line in the last six decades. Who should then shoulder the blame? This shows the huge gap between plans & results. Just how ill conceived they are.

Four years ago, our current leaders took office with the oath that they'd work for the common man's good. All they seem to have achieved is drown the real issues amid rhetoric & blame someone else for their failures. I hope the next set of leaders is able to filter all the noise around them & lead India to the top of the world.

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