From the Managing Editor

Any leader is judged by the change between what he inherited and what he leaves behind when he walks into the sunset. By that measure, Manmohan Singh doesn't come out looking good, writes Josey Puliyenthuruthel.
 Josey Puliyenthuruthel        Print Edition: Dec 22, 2013

By the time most of you, dear readers, read this letter, I would have voted in Delhi's assembly elections. Voting, like any other public activity in the capital, offers interesting possibilities for observational research. You get to see the regular don't-you-know-who-my-father-is types; the unexplained sullenness that pervades Delhi's public spaces; the pride of the poor in being part of a powerful franchise; and the efficiency of a motivated electoral machinery. What I am looking forward to on December 4, though, is the first-time Delhi voter - some 400,000 of them. The giggly, the gangly, the confused, yet the confident, the impatient, the restless voter, who will risk that vote for a fresh start.

The frenzied hustings (some of it virtual) in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Mizoram have resulted in high voter turnouts, a trend likely to be replicated in Rajasthan and Delhi. Indications are that there will be an evident and marked shift in voting patterns towards things that matter at home: food prices, household budgets, jobs, children's future, health care, and, generally, predictability in life. People saw the benefits of high growth and now see why they are hurting. And, this is not just the story of the powerful rajdhani and four states. This will set the stage for the 2014 election, which, polarised as it promises to be, will also be one where leadership will be judged more by performance, and less by factors such as what someone's forefathers did in their work-lives.

Any leader, and at any level, is judged by the change between what he inherited and what he leaves behind when he walks into the sunset. By that measure, Manmohan Singh, who thinks of himself as a libertarian statesman rather than a bureaucrat, doesn't come out looking good. He had the benefit of taxes from a barrelling economy to fund some of the world's largest public-spending programmes but failed to keep a firm hand on the wheel when it came to the direction of reforms and, painfully for business, he ineffectually helmed a motley crew of a government.

You don't have to look far to spot weak leadership models. They are all around us, especially in corporate India. These pairs don't have comparable levels of notoriety but here goes: Tarun Tejpal and Phaneesh Murthy, B. Ramalinga Raju and Rajat Gupta, Ketan Parekh and Sanjay Dangi... .

Rather than go on and on, we at Business Today decided to roll up our sleeves and do something. Let me introduce you to BT MindRush, the first of an annual signature event series we are readying. On December 13 and 14, we will fete the most accomplished of India's corner suite occupants at the BT Best CEOs Awards and draw leadership lessons from the experience of some fine minds around. Click through to www.businesstodaymindrush.com for details to the event. Some years from now, when we compare notes, I hope Business Today would have contributed more than its heft to sound corporate leadership in India.

The cover story this fortnight is a good untold one, even if I say so. Ajay Modi, Shamni Pande and Anilesh S. Mahajan focus on a set of businessmen who made their riches from an economic activity that India has all but written off: agriculture. India is already the biggest producer of milk, banana, mango and pulses, the second-biggest in sugar, rice, wheat, and cotton. It is only a matter of time before many more farm barons like Jang Bahadur Singh Sangha, Rahoul Jain, Anil Agrawal, and Anil Mittal come into the limelight.

Other stories of note are: the future of mining in India, ineffective independent directors, and a case study on how Daikin grew its India business four times in three years.

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