Saturday, November 29, 2008

ANYONE REMEMBER LEAD INDIA ?


This blog is a follow up to

SEISMIC, SYSTEMIC, SYSTEMATIC FAILURE





Sanjiv Kaura, Dipayan Dey, Ranjit Gadgil, Abha Singh....

Names ring a bell?

No?

Ok - how about Devang Nanavati? R.K. Mishra...

Not yet??

Forgotten already, huh?
Like yesterday's stale TV soap operas...
Washed off with the next soap.

These names are of those who 'fought'....
nahi, nahi - not the NSG commandos - these were the regional 'Lead India' spectacle 'winners'.

These 'actors' did stand in the center of our drawing rooms and bedrooms...
Unfortunately, their presence at this most intimate of places lasted only as long as their presence on the idiot box.
They have since vanished. Off the face of the (visible media) earth. The only 'place' that seems to matter in today's connected world.

Back then it was decided that all we needed to truly 'Lead India' was one winning leader. In this frame of reference, leadership was all about gamesmanship and 'winning' as decided by media heavy weights.
Fair enough.
But then, no one really knows where the chosen one is. Nor where any of the other 'finalists' are...

So I come back to my original question - WHERE AND WHO ARE THE TRUE LEADERS?

I am that aam Bharatiya - the one seeking a leader out there, and the question is this : when I look towards Lead India for a leader, am I just being silly ??

But Lead India did get the best of the awards - Cannes Lions Grand Prix, no less... a clean sweep of the Indian awards as well....

So is that what the spectacle was all about actually??

While The Times of India, JWT and Ram Madhvani covered their shelves with the glory of trophies,
whatever happened to the basic issue? That of Leading India - indefatigably - with the real aam junta's needs, or was it about feel-good desh-bhakt ads and awards??

Shah Rukh Khan, and so on - the faces of the build up to Lead India might say : Hello, we were participating in a worthy exercise, when we became the public face in the ads...ask Ram and JWT what this Lead India was about...

Equinox films, the company of Ram Madhvani might say : I was only making a film to the best of my ability, ask JWT who approached us...

JWT, the ad agency will say : We were only making a path-breaking campaign. Ask the TOI who ideated on this...

TOI is likely to say : We are a media company, we were doing what we know best... creating and consolidating the newsworthiness of the seeking out of a leader'.

I am back to my search... WHERE ARE THE TRUE LEADERS?

Ram Madhvani loves to diss research. He proclaims - at every public speaking opportunity - how much he dislikes the idea of having his ads checked amongst customers . I would like to humbly submit this. As a market researcher, I listen to the voice of the aam aadmi day in and day out. As a sociology student as well. And not just today when they are out on the streets making themselves heard.
This junta - be it in the corporate board rooms, the elites of South Mumbai, or those who wait quietly and peaceably in the concourse of the railways, has been asking a simple question...

WHERE ARE THE REAL LEADERS??

Andrew Bacevich writes : "Most Americans subscribe to a limited-liability version of patriotism, one that emphasizes the display of bumper stickers in preference to shouldering a rucksack."

Here in India, it is time to 'shoulder a rucksack'. And flush out - no, not just the terrorists. The corrupt, inept office-bearers out there. We need to stop paying that next small or big bribe asked for. By anybody. Perhaps stop and question the 'let's make a quick buck of money / fame/ rewards of awards' profit motive out there. Let autonomy and transparency come in, in our governance - and decimate political interference. In the police, in security, in our education system... In short, in everything.

'Lead India patriotism' ; 'Wear White today / Black today, in the memory of those who laid down their lives' patriotism' ; 'Light a candle patriotism'. This is pseudo and it is time to recognize it for what it is...

We can all do without this 'limited liability' version of bumper-sticker patriotism please... It is time for all of us to become the leader we seek, and together move forward.


Piyul

piyulm@iitb.ac.in



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