Sunday, November 15, 2015

Tracking a leader

A recent hot topic of a debate that raged in one of the FB pages that i follow is the seed for this post.
There were serious arguments supporting and opposing our first prime minister, who to me has always been a riddle wrapped in a mystery incensed with enigma. Majority of his political decisions are baffling at best with obvious help of hindsight. His decision on Kashmir and dealing with China are still haunting the nation and are Yet, that he was accepted as one of the leading statesman of the world at his prime and time was unquestionable. The NAM movement pioneered by him resulted in dictatorship in almost every major country that participated. Even he for one never relinquished his post till his death bed and sowed the seeds of dynastic politics in Post Independence Indian politics. The fore mentioned deed probably attributed to his own heritage having been connected to the throne of Delhi that stretches back to his grandfather's time. Him along with Gandhi muddled the concept of secularism to such extent that its claiming thousands of life every passing year. His scandalous affairs were an open secret and his efforts to get his son-in-law's name changed to reflect the popular surname of the nation have all been well documented. His efforts to sideline Patel and Netaji are known by heart by the right wing parties and all those spy files would've added much more fuel to this conspiracy in two months time.

Nehru has been truly revered by many as the one who laid the foundation for infrastructure in India. Arguably the forefather of "Make in India" initiatives with foreign collaborations on major dams, steel plants and many other industries. How much ever one argues against the vile definition of it, the much refined template of Indian secularism is here to stay and would probably set the tone for a representative democracy to the entire world in coming years. More than anything, an appreciative and co-operative media where his biggest strengths. A country just coming to terms with its independence, having already suffered numerous bloodshed, needed positivity and probably that may be the core reason why people were blind sided. He also enjoyed immense popularity as the designated second in command to Gandhi and had a charisma to die for. Being a superb orator he held his sway over the masses who weren't yet be polluted by the information bombardment of the current era.

Was Nehru a leader - without a doubt. Was he a good leader? That has been the raging debate off late. How do you define a person as good when he was an alleged womaniser, chain smoker, alcoholic, self centred, greedy for power yet successfully lead a new born nation in its tumultuous times through its troubled teens to his extent possible and carved a name for himself in the world arena as a leader and statesman. Where would had we been had we had Patel instead of Nehru? or Netaji for that matter? Why should the personal life and preferences of a person cause a hindrance to him being a leader? If Kennedy and Clinton can lead America to a new era despite their personal flaws why can't Nehru be given that slack? Again if one had to really opt for a personally flawless person as a replacement for Nehru then Vinoba Bhave would've been the only other choice. Personally and spiritually he would've worked wonders. But would he have had the political acumen to represent India?

We've this long standing habit of assuming super human powers for whoever we choose as our icons. We expect Sachin to become a superstar politician just because he is good in cricker. We expect Rajini to save the state just like how he does in his movies just because his movies are blockbusters.

We expect our politicos to be expert on everything under the sky and wish for interesting (read controversial) sound bites every time a mike is thrown in front of them. There is no harm or foul in the design to become a leader. The fault is in our expectations.


Ramesh said...

Every leader operates in a certain time and pace and its easy for history to judge him or her differently over time. At the time of India's independence, Nehru was a towering leader and minus him, India may have been very different. No human is faultless and with the benefit of hindsight, we can fault him for the tilt towards socialism, the Chinese war, the inability to groom the next leader, etc etc. But that would be churlish. For the time and age, he was a giant. We should leave it at that, I believe.

gils said...

true. history is never so bright at hindsight.