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Wednesday, January 15, 2014


(This article was published in the Pioneer of 31/1/2014)
The emergence of a true leader who has the courage and the gumption to take on the system, and not merely tinker with it for marginal improvements, is the need of the hour. Unfortunately, this country is yet to be blessed with such a leader
It was an inspiring address, delivered by the first Prime Minister of independent India in the first hour of day one, that raised the hopes of an entire nation. The lines that really stood out in that tryst with destiny speech were: “The achievement we celebrate today is but a step, an opening of opportunity, to the greater triumphs and achievements that await us. Are we brave enough and wise enough to grasp this opportunity and accept the challenge of the future?”
India has since then been a land of missed opportunities. Many wonder if we can afford to miss it this time again. Opportunity is not for a select few to occupy high chairs but for genuine nation-building. The realisation that nation- building requires the toil of generations and definitely does not come cheap, has not sunk into the Indian psyche. That there is no quick-fix, and a mere display of intentions and rhetoric is not going to take us anywhere needs to be understood. It is paramount that India’s Gross Domestic Product grows in sync with the developed world.
For the past 67 years, with the exception of the initial few, what the nation has witnessed is a clamour for power, purely for personal gains. Modern day political dynasties, that the nation has not been able to discard, have evolved out of this clamour for power. While some have maintained an association with power since that ‘tryst with destiny’, many other political families (though not as powerful) have also emerged and produced successful second and third generation politicians, occupying benches in the hallowed portals of Parliament and State legislatures across the country. We are taken in by names, and name-throwing has, therefore, emerged as the biggest past-time of the ruling and ruled classes.
What is nation-building all about? A great example is the rise of Germany after its defeats in the first and the second world wars. Its rise after the first war was fuelled by national pride and the leadership of one single individual; after the second, it was the collective effort of its citizens to restore the nation to  its earlier position of glory that made all the difference.
In India’s context, the issues are a bit different. At the time of independence, we were like a child who had been let free. A nation of uneducated people, torrid infrastructure, rampant poverty that was divided on caste and regional lines, was handed the baton with the mandate to govern itself. The ruling classes saw themselves in the same mould as the departing occupiers. Therefore, though the machinery for governance warranted a total overhaul, it was merely tinkered with for minimal effect. The euphoria of independence soon evaporated. Therefore, while minor improvements in infrastructure and major changes in the availability of consumer goods may be visible today, the nation has been slipping down the human development and transparency indices.
India is yet to be blessed with a leader who openly shares his resolve to take the nation forward. Someone who openly declares his abhorrence for corruption and resolves to hit graft at it its roots shall be the one who can build the nation of our dreams. A person who has a vision, sets targets and takes the nation forward by delivering, not merely pontificating on providing governance, education and infrastructure.
The emergence of a true leader who has the courage and the gumption to take on the system, and not merely tinker with it for marginal improvements, is the need of the hour.  Only such leaders are remembered as nation builders. All others merely had a great time.

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