Monday, January 09, 2006

Of learned men and leaders

IT is a well-known fact that Plato believed in the idealist and elitist concept of a philosopher as king. Well, to some degree, I do believe that a learned man makes a great leader. In this context, my conception of a great leader is not just a great leader of men, but also necessarily, one who is noble or good. So where I do believe Hitler was a great leader of men, I also think he was a poor soul, probably because he was not a very learned man and most of what he read (and what he spread) was hatred for the Jews. A good example of a great leader, in my opinion, would be Alexander. Though he had his faults, he was a great leader of men and was a learned man too, under the tutelage of no less a teacher than Aristotle.

Throughout history, it has been seen that one great man has brought about a change in the lives of thousands of others. The power that one person can wield over the thousands is what I call great leadership - the power of one.

Now, I strongly believe that the best form of government is monarchy, and I am often asked to explain why. Most of the time, when I make an "outrageous" statement like that, I am chided, more so because I am at a loss for a rational argument that can convince others. My usual stance is to ask people to look at the history of mankind and decide for themselves. People tell me democracy has provided equality and freedom for all and emancipation of women. I politely disagree. But that is another point which I have addresssed a little bit in one of my earlier posts, democracy vs monarchy. A simple basis for my position of favour for monarchy is because of the power of one.

Wish as I may for monarchy, I am a very proud citizen of India, the world's largest democracy. I see a lot of faults in the Indian democratic set-up, and I often try to think of ways to overcome some of them. Few times has it happened that I genuinely feel good about the leaders at the state or central goverments in India. For the most part, these leaders are just shrewd businessmen, who would stop at nothing to get into positions of power only to abuse them.

A few years back, there were a few chief ministers in India, whose governance was exemplary in some aspects. They showed initiative, they were able to communicate to the masses, they were able to address the needs of the state and they were able to bring in some development. Development did not only mean bringing in IT companies and investments, but promoting schemes that would support agriculture, handicrafts, tourism and other industries alike. Chandrababu Naidu and S.M Krishna, readily come to my mind and I am sure there were a few others.

At the central government level, I really struggle to find exemplary leaders. Atal Behari Vajpayee was a man who earned a lot of respect for his oratorical genius and honesty and not so much for his governance. By and large, the prime ministers and other national leaders who have governed our country in the last five decades have not been great leaders, in my opinion. Yet, today, when I look at India's future, it seems to be in secure hands, for the time-being at least.

I feel a great sense of pride today, when I see that a man of such colossal scientific learning and accomplishment is the President of India, indeed a very deserving First Citizen. Dr. Abdul Kalam comes across as a man of deep convictions, great wisdom and a strong drive. The fact that he has more than 30 honorary doctorates to his name and that he has been awarded with three of India's highest civilian honours, the Padma Vibhushan, the Padma Bhushan and Bharat Ratna speak volumes about the man and his contributions to India.

I also feel proud that another very learned man is the Prime Minister of India, the man in-charge, so to speak, Dr. Manmohan Singh. A man with a spotless track-record amidst the miry, mud-slinging politics of India, the architect of liberalisation and economic reforms, a doctorate in economics from Oxford and an economist of international repute, Dr. Singh is capable of bringing in far-reaching policy changes to usher in national prosperity.

And helping him in bringing financial upliftment to the millions in India is another man of equal reputation, education and honesty. An MBA from Harvard, P. Chidambaram is India's Finance Minister whose partnership with Dr. Manmohan Singh, could arguably be India's best chance to solve the problems of unemployment, poverty and under-development.

Though I will always consider myself unfortunate not to be born in the times of a great king, such as Krishnadevaraya of the Vijayanagar kingdom, I will take solace in the fact that leading India into the future during my lifetime are men as learned as Dr. Abdul Kalam, Dr. Manmohan Singh and P. Chidambaram. It is a tribute to the truly secular fabric of the Indian society that some of the highest offices in India are held by men whose faiths are different from the majority of those governed.

And if Plato were alive today, I am sure he would be a very satisfied man.


Blogger the Monk said...

very true...pity there's still so much communal crap goin on, though...

Tuesday, January 10, 2006 5:35:00 AM  
Blogger Srihari said...

"The monk", yes, its a real pity...and when you analyse the communal clashes we have had, it has been triggered, or supported by political parties, which are the bane of a democracy.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006 6:48:00 AM  

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