Sexually Transmitted Political Leadership

namfrel-v2n14-dynastyAbout a month back, I got an opportunity to listen to a talk given by Manish Sabharwal, the Chairman and Co-founder of Teamlease, an Indian Fortune 500 company, that provides human resources services to its clients and employs more than 125,000 people. Manish is a member of the National Skill Mission chaired by the Prime Minister of India and serves on various state and central government committees on education, employment and employability. I also got a chance to speak with him before and after the talk on themes such as employability, governance, and public policy. He spoke about the need for urbanization and creating new cities with a population of more than a million people. He also said that this could be achieved faster with decentralization – 29 chief ministers are more important than one Prime Minister, but the real solution lies in creating 100 real mayors. One of the anecdotes that I found particularly interesting was this – In 1924, Jawaharlal Nehru was the mayor of Allahabad, Rajendra Prasad was the mayor of Patna, C.R. Das was the mayor of Calcutta, and Sardar Patel was the mayor of Ahmedabad. There are letters from Nehru that talk about street lights and Patel about sanitation because mayoral elections were fought on issues like infrastructure. Then he added with a mischievous smile, “Can you imagine Nehru’s great-grandson writing letters about street lights in Delhi? What that says is that sexually transmitted Prime Minister-ship does not work.” Continue reading

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Dialogue

angerA couple of months back, as I was driving to work one day, I found my car blocked by a delivery van which had stopped on the road. The driver and his helper were delivering supplies to shops lined against the narrow street, at a leisurely pace. I honked and I hollered, but they seemed impervious to my entreaties. Frustrated, I cursed at them. The next moment I found them beside my car . Well that worked, I said to myself. I will reason with them and help them see that their act of parking a big van on the road, blocking the way for others, was insensitive. I would then graciously apologize for my behavior (the fact that I cursed at them) and drive away. How naive of me! What happened next I hear you ask? Well, there was some shouting and yelling to begin with. Soon I saw them banging their fists against my car window, daring me to get down so that we could settle this with our bare knuckles. I somehow managed to extricate myself from that situation with my teeth and my dignity intact. Just! Continue reading