Saturday, 19 December 2015

Increasing chasm between civil society and government in India

 I had recently  an opportunity to participate in a conference in New Delhi  on education .It was organised by a prestigious  civil society organisation .What struck me , after going through the list of speakers and the participants that there was no one from government of India or any of the state governments .On inquiry , I was told that  despite invitations , no  delegate  from any of the central or state governments  cared to attend this otherwise very sincere and meaningful effort.
                      There is no doubt that India is a low trust society , and no one trusts any one .The situation is more serious when it comes to trusting government  representatives.On the other side , government representatives also have very  little trust in civil society .And as the above  conference revealed to me  , this  chasm between the civil society and the government is increasing .This has alarmed even me , who has seen and experienced this increasing   distance between the civil society and the government, over the past three decades or so.This does not augur well for our country , which needs better governance  from the government , with new ideas and support from  the civil society organisations.It is not an easy  goal , but it has to be reached.

Friday, 11 December 2015

Churchill on Leadership by Steven F. Hayward

Scarcity of leadership in Uttar Pradesh  and India led me to begin a search for  leaders elsewhere , present and past , and I thought of reading  this book  about Churchill .(Churchill on Leadership by  Steven  F. Hayward.)
                   For those who do not know, Churchill became Prime Minister of  Britain  for the duration of World War II.Just two months after the end of the war,Churchill suffered the humiliation of  being voted out of office..During the next six years as leader of the opposition,Churchill wrote his six-volume memoirs about World war II , for which he won the Nobel Prize for Literature.
                The book is divided into ten chapters.Most of the politicians  seem to be models neither of leadership  nor of basic managerial skill.But Churchill was an exception,the book says.
1."The pursuit of power with the capacity and  the  desire to exercise it worthily is among the noblest of human occupations". . . Churchill.
2. He balanced overview and attention to details.
 3.It is not enough simply to learn the job.Define it.Do not become the passive  matrix upon which others impose their designs.
4.Responsibility must be combined with authority.
5. The person at the top may consult others but he must be decisive.In the absence of responsible leadership, collective decision making bodies will temporize.
6.Maintain flexibility and use adhoc structures for  particular problems.
 7.Get information direct and unfiltered.Have your own statistical  office to gather information and statistics , and report  to you directly.
8."It is far better to to take too many precautions  than too few.
9."There is great wisdom in reserving one's decisions as long as possible and until all the facts and forces  are revealed.
10. "It is a good thing to stand away from the  canvas from time to time  and take a full view of the picture"
 11.Put it in writing -- and keep it short.Conduct all important matters in writing .
12.Compress your thoughts into a reasonable space.
    Above ideas are  worthy of putting into practice by  leaders in any field.But I expected more out of a book on Churchill.