Corporate musings

AAP ko badhaiyaan !! Lessons from this…


When the Anna movement started against corruption and trying to force the Jan Lokpal bill to be passed the mood in the country was one of anger and frustration. For the first time, we could see the young, the old and the folks in the middle all rise up as one voice. Arvind Kejriwal was not the face of that movement but the mastermind. Anna is truly from Gandhi’s era and could in no way fathom the political machinations of the two big parties – Congress and BJP, plus the scores of strong regional parties. Even Arvind has stumbled several times and continues to and not because of capability but just because the political system is so entrenched. He is now the Delhi Chief Minister and continues to be a different “type”. The changes he wants to bring are much needed but so difficult, so he needs all the strength.

The last few months have been fascinating to watch and a number of lessons to be learnt, plus painful to see incompetence, sycophancy and opportunistic behavior… Congress is trying so hard to paint Modi black and Rahul white (pun intended) and failing so miserably. Modi has 8 lakh people, who come in Mumbai to hear him speak and Shiela Dikshit the three term Chief Minister of Delhi had to implore the sparse crowd in Delhi to not get up and leave when Rahul was to speak. Yesterday Krishnan commented during a Modi Vs Rahul debate with Vidur, that soon there will be stories like Snoopgate, on Rahul…. And I said, I doubt it, to be notorious or famous one needs to do some good or bad – Rahul is still thinking, strategizing, energizing, ideating ….just wasting his time on Earth !! Nature is cruel, Nehru’s DNA seems to have mutated beyond recognition, for his great-grandson is not even occasionally eloquent, or remotely charismatic.

As the year ends, twelve lessons from the above situation :-
1. Pedigree is good for dogs and horses, in man, genes tend to mutate and you are on your own. Modi was a tea seller and has no fancy pedigree. Rahul born to the illustrious Nehru family …and
2. Competence will be respected (Modi) whatever be the pedigree. Competence shines through.
3. Charisma cannot be forced or learnt by rote (Congress doesn’t get it).
4. Dear mother Sonia, Jesus said “the poor shall inherit God’s kingdom”, not the Dumb. As leaders and managers – identify the high potential correctly and back him/her – if you want to know what happens when the wrong potential is backed, just watch Rahul’s dumb escapades !!
5. Don’t play into your opponent’s game … It’s fascinating to watch how Modi starts something and every opposing party’s spokesperson just out-does the other to deride, discuss and debate about it. In the process, Modi is laughing all the way with skyrocketing popularity.
6. Don’t underestimate David … With Arvind Kejriwal and the AAP party getting the second highest number of votes in Delhi, it’s a message to the Goliath’s to not ignore the underdog, the regular looking non-charismatic person. It’s as much a lesson to BJP as it is to Congress. So Modi needs to watch out just as much ! In corporate terms, it’s disruptive innovation and the incumbent leader needs to watch out for it.
7. Perceptions are difficult to change – Modi is stuck with the religious fundamentalist tag, Rahul with the dumb tag, Arvind with the activist tag … It takes years and almost the entire lifetime if you want to change a perception. Perception is reality, a lifelong lesson that I learnt early on in my career but couldn’t escape it. Honestly, I don’t think it’s easy to shake it off and it’s difficult to have the wisdom to set the right perception upfront.
8. Majority is not always right … Thanks to Ved for bringing this up while we were chatting in the morning. While the experiment that AAP and Kejriwal are trying with SMS voting and “gram sabhas” and gathering people’s opinion, everyone is not an expert on all affairs of the state/nation. The big picture view is not available to every one and it can get tiring to be asked about every small thing. Also what happened with the LGBT verdict recently shows, majority is not always right. In the corporate world we try and do what’s good for the majority, it requires a re-think and seriously.
9. One man can change the world – Arvind Kejriwal proved it recently. So go on, change the world. Everyone will try and stop you, but you can do it. You need the right lever as Archimedes said and the timing has to be impeccable, imagine if a Barack Obama was possible 50 years back in the USA. No way.
10. “Samudra Manthan”, the mythical churning of the ocean required the help of demons, Gods couldn’t do it by themselves. The good, bad and ugly co-exist and learning to use the bad and the ugly to serve the greater good is an art. Not sure if Arvind Kejriwal or Modi have the ability to carry everyone along .. Collaboration, co-opetition, synergy, the corporate equivalents. The people of
Delhi voted for change. They didn’t want the Congress party. Neither BJP had the sense to go and negotiate with AAP for support to them to form the government, nor did AAP think of the advantages of being in the opposition and learning the tricks of the trade. Governance is different from activism – needs to be learnt.
11. Basic rule in life – pick a few things and do them well. A huge list will distract you and just like out of focus lens don’t help you see things clearly, unfocused efforts will not yield good results. AAP seems to have bitten off a lot, they should pace themselves and work through a few priorities. Their election performance was stupendous and very welcome. The baby steps in governance have to be taken well so they can become a credible alternative.
12. Finally it all goes back to Buddha’s middle path – balance. Going too far on including people won’t work, not including people at all won’t work, all rhetoric and no action won’t work, all action and no rhetoric won’t work, command control without inclusivity won’t work, inclusive leadership without some command control won’t work, democracy and no socialist thoughts won’t work, all socialism and no democracy won’t work … The middle path, the balanced path is what one must take. It’s the toughest lesson to learn …

But for now, AAP and Arvind should be thanked for creating a credible alternative in a no-contest BJP win situation. Modi needs to sharpen his focus and learn from this experience. Rahul should just retire and Nehru family can take a break.. We thank them for their contributions and wish them a peaceful retirement as an “Aam aadmi”, take in the sights, smell the roses, wine and dine, chill.

More strength to Arvind and may he create the Delhi of our dreams ….

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