Sunday, January 23, 2011

Awarding Mediocrity

That’s really the great mystery about bureaucracies. Why is it so often that the best people are stuck in the middle and the people who are running things—the leaders—are the mediocrities?
I found this very relevant collection of words on this blog.

I am guessing if it's true for bureaucracies its true for every organization big and small. Why do we end up having mediocre leaders?

A perfect example will be Rahul Gandhi, IMO. He is very likely to become the Prime Minister of India in next few years. India, a country full of complex issues, enormous diversity where a very large section of society is still playing an intense cat and mouse game in the very long food chain.

Some of my "educated and informed" friends support Junior Gandhi, because he is quote/unquote YOUNG. And if the 'educated friend' happens to be a female, add the word Charming, to the list of his talents as well! Sometimes I'd like to tell these shallow folks that "charming" is good for date-nights and not for ruling the country as complex as India. So close your 'mills and boons' or put off that Karan Johar movie and go to sleep.

To rule India, we need a leader with a, what's the word i am looking for here... mmm.. yeah Spine! Something that 4 generations of Gandhis could not develop.

So, here's a country on a brink of reinventing itself, getting a handle at reducing poverty (if not removing it) finally, targeted to substantially increase it's %age of GDP in world economies (some reports suggest as much as 34% of world GDP by 2050); and looking for a super mediocre politician like Gandhi to take the reigns?

phrrrrr.... I don't like the idea of this. That's where the 'young' India beats me. I mean with all it's confidence and new world view, the youngistan is really lacking in some ways exactly that. Yes, a genuine World View.

Now if I am sounding like a middle-aged loser passing judgment on the youngistan, well to an extent it's true. I *am* passing a judgment. But on one aspect of this India that I am witnessing. No doubt the current generation is doing good - professionally. They are confident go-getters who are very clear about what they want. But when it comes to geo politics, we still have to witness that big narrative, that can see India through the complex road map that lies ahead. Sadly, all I see around me is a cookie-cutter, template "view point" which is mostly media driven.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Visit to India 2010

  • As far as my memory serves India was always a corrupt nation. What is different about corruption in 2010 is the scale. The scandals are no more in few crores. Each scandal is worth the GDP of a few nations. The Bofors scandal that happened around 1985 and the first my generation got exposed to, was worth only Rs.64 Crore; Today with 64 crore you probably can buy a 2BHK apartment in Peddar Road in Mumbai or may be give that sum to NDTV's, Padmashree winner Barkha Dutt to whore for a minister to save his seat in UPA government. It's value is *that* cheap. 
  • Scandals are not news anymore. There are so many scandals happening in tandem, that to keep a tab on one of them is like watching one TV channel when 232 are available. You got to push that remote button to surf. Following one Scandal at a time is boring.
  • Everything has multiplied, except people's attention span. That has infact been divided. You cannot hold anyone's attention for more than a few seconds unless you are talking money.
  • Why did we end up absorbing only the negatives of Capitalism? And please don't tell me it only has negatives.
  • For what it's worth, "common man" can now fly easily in India. Air Ticket fares are within reasonable range and Airports are as crowded as Bus Stands use to be in 1980s, when I used to travel in State Transport buses to Wani and Mardi. But that also means, newly built swank and plush Airports of Bombay and Delhi, now have overflowing trash cans. With capitalism came disposable income. Unfortunately money did not bring with it, civic sense and basic common civility. That flight has not landed yet.
  • Bombay was a mixed bag. One of my favorite cities from the yore, it's not a patch on it's old self. Atleast as far as civic sense, traffic discipline is concerned. It keeps hitting a new low, as a culture completely alien to Bombay of 70s and 80s,  makes it's footprint on the Bombayland. It's depressing and agonising at the same time. One can only wish this is a temporary phase in Bombay's life and one of my old favorites will rise like a renaissance again.
  • New Delhi was a revelation. Found much more disciplined than Bombay. Lane driving was followed for most part by our cabbies and I observed zero bottle necks. Of course the good old and notorious "badmashi" of public transport is still alive and kicking.
  • But it's not ALL negative. Change is happening and like any other change it's bringing both good and bad with it. It's upto India as a country how it absorbs good and rejects bad. If I had to put my money now, it will still be on India. With all that's going on, I somehow felt positive.
  • People are talking positive. They are enjoying. They seem to be happy. I met a lot of folks from my extended family and a few friends. All sounded positively encouraging. There were few cribs here and there, but overall there was a lot of happy vibes around.
  • If inspite of infinitely corrupt central government and an unscrupulous first family ruling the country like a banana republic, we are still feeling happy, imagine the transformation, if by stroke of luck, we end up having a semi-decent government at the centre. My hope increased many folds, when I saw the cover page of the latest Business Today magazine. Hope someone like him becomes our PM soon.
  • One last thing. My 11 year old niece said to me - "Mama, your generation failed us. You used and wasted resources without thinking about our future." I was amazed in equal parts by her confidence, knowledge and pure assertiveness in saying such a thing bluntly. Not that I can change what "my generation" did, but just the fact that she is aware and seemed like "ready to take on" was a winner as far as I am concerned. I wish and pray, her generation transforms India into something beautiful and positive, which probably my generation did not. And on that note... Jai Hind.