"The concept of India will shatter, for Indian leaders will be men of weak straw ..." such was the gist of what Winston Churchill supposedly thought about India pre-Independence. The Indian state however has survived many a storm and in its seventieth year of independence we could do well however to ponder on the second half of the prediction. Through the course of the journey of these seventy years India has thrown up many exemplary leaders. Among them Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw would be remembered with reverence. The good Field Marshal delivered a stellar speech at St. Xavier's Institute of Management on the topic of what made a good leader. All of what he said was pure gold and it would have done a ton of good if it had been broadcast through all means of public communication in great dollops like Indian aunties would serve to the visiting nephew or niece. I am guessing the Field Marshal would disapprove of thrusting his speech down the general populace's ears but in view of the current state of affairs that would hardly seem overdrive.
If the country has produced exemplary leaders it should seem to have it done it with as much vigour as water coming out of the municipality taps. In short supply would hardly cover the sentiment. There has been much debate over why the country has not reached levels achieved by others who got their independence much later even leading perhaps to the comparison of India to a grand old elephant. Taking its own sweet time to do things. Blame has been ascribed to the huge population, to our pathetic state when the British had left us - broken socially and economically, among many other factors. The younger generation who have not seen nor experienced those early years the early fifties and right upto the seventies, are increasingly quick to find fault with the economic policies practised, and people of all political affiliations are prone to point their fingers at a rival political party's role. In this land of incredible diversity it is all too easy to have a different opinion and trade accusations as to whose fault it is. But sometimes it would help to point a finger back towards the self. The fact that it has taken a long time to bring development at the requisite pace in this land of ours is quite surprisingly its own people. A look around at one's immediate neighbourhoods - the home, the workplaces, the transportation, the places of education, law and order, all barring none reek of a lack of good leadership. It is like the plague!!it is everywhere. And the Indian attitude which is the cause of this disease has accepted it as the normal. Borrowing from the Field Marshal's speech, among the many qualities which a good leader should possess are primarily technical knowledge and integrity. Both are abysmally absent in the Indian scene. Taking the case of the industrial sector of which the writer is also a part of, there is very less focus for the most part on scientific correctness or accuracy. There is a mad rush to beat the competition with little regard to accuracy or quality. The results are half-baked products which are way behind the world standard for quality. In fact the method of a quick or temporary solution known famously as "jugaad" is accepted with pride and self-professed with wide grins to visiting foreigners. This coming from a nation which centuries ago was the world leader in quality and renown for the accuracy in its work is shocking to say the least. Indian leaders do not as a rule promote quality nor technical accuracy and an overwhelming majority of them do so because they are not technically competent. There is a mad rush to meet deadlines wherein the very reason the rush exists is because of an attitude of procrastination and a lack of the second quality - integrity. Indian 'leaders' barring a minuscule few lack integrity. They are hopeless yes-men and women, charlatans of the worst order. Glaring examples of servitude they attain their positions by constant arse-licking rather than any real talent and are pathetic leaders. They are quick to pass the compliment down the line and expect their subordinates to follow the same revolting process. The atmosphere in most Indian offices is frustrating and nauseating with this vicious cycle in place. The ability to make a subordinate work extra hours with no regard to his/her work-life balance is often projected as a talent rather than an abysmal failure at managerial-level planning. It is no wonder then that the best talent in this country runs away from it at the first opportunity.
Indians are 'taught' all through their long education process and adult life with glaring examples that scientific accuracy and integrity do not pay. Careful inspection would reveal that these very qualities resulted in the colonisation of this people by the British. There were bad leaders then as does the nation now. The question then is: can this be corrected? Yes, by purging the country of this mindset and that is no easy job. The trouble moreover is that there is no alternative, for, with this attitude the nation would slide back into economic servitude if not a political one. A starting step then would be a change in the educational process to favour integrity and accuracy and an acceptance by the national conscience that there needs to be a change. Here is to hoping that it may happen!