The Vision Thing

By Moorthy Muthuswamy, August 2001

With the "cross border" terrorism sponsored by an Islamic neighbor escalating, more and more are voicing concerns about the lack of a "vision" on Indian security matters. The recent Indian economic slump too has been attributed, once again, you guessed it, – lack of an economic policy vision. The following question arises: What is a vision and what it takes to achieve it?

In this context, vision can be termed as a mode of conceiving a plan. Clearly, certain prerequisites are needed before one could set about a workable plan: A thorough knowledge of the subject matter, ability to prioritize the relative importance of the proposed actions, ability to put together and work with a competent team, pooling resources, etc. In short, the ability to have vision is no different than possessing Project Management Skills (PMS).

PMS, like any other skill, needs to be nurtured and developed. Someone growing up in an advanced civilization such as the US has an opportunity to develop PMS, as the society is result driven. However, a struggling civilization, such as Indian, more often than not, lacks environment to develop PMS, -- as the society is not particularly apt in conceiving or carrying out tasks efficiently and successfully.

Therefore, it is most likely that Indian politicians lack PMS. Since PMS reflects lifetime experiences of an individual it couldn’t be easily developed. By many accounts, Mahatma Gandhi is considered as a visionary and a man of considerable PMS. Where did he acquire these skills? Gandhi developed the technique of non-violent opposition, a visionary approach, during his extended stay in South Africa. It is most likely that Gandhi’s PMS were acquired through observing and dealing with the efficient White Apartheid regime and society in South Africa. Even the leader of China’s economic resurgence, Deng Xiaoping, had a stint in France that undoubtedly helped him develop PMS.

The need of the hour for India is a leader who understands the underpinnings of Western civilization’s success. Such a person should have had considerable exposure to the Western society and through which he/she gained PMS.

The question arises who could provide an effective leadership for India at this time. It should be someone, perhaps in the 40’s who grew up in India, but had a successful career, preferably an entrepreneurial one, in the West. With India’s very survival threatened by the expanding Islamic extremism, the country at large, and even the only institution battling it, the Indian military is looking to fill this leadership vacuum.

Is the situation ripe for a new type of leadership? I believe it is. The fears of India being over run by Islamic anarchism and Muslim hoards from Bangladesh have united most Indians across the nation and its many fault lines.

It is important to keep in mind that most, if not all of the societies that have achieved economic success in Asia – South Korea, Taiwan, Hongkong, Singapore and even China have had single party setups rather than democratic regimes during the period of economic growth and consolidation. These visionary regimes provided the political stability and the will necessary to carry out security and economic policies; instabilities were not allowed to fester. The above countries other than China learnt PMS from the US eagerly, which received thumping returns for its investment. China in turn learnt from Taiwanese and Hongkong entrepreneurs who invested across the border. Meanwhile, during the 50’s, 60’s and even in 70’s a largely illiterate and backward India was hectoring the US and others about the greatness of its 5000-year-old civilization rather learn from the then civilizational leaders!

Indians have a choice – an anarchic, ineffective democracy that is a ticket to its destruction through an unabated Islamic extremism or a military assisted elected government administrated by US-returned Indian citizens who have the project management skills to take the country in the right direction. The Indian military leadership, who can make this possible and the NRIs need to ponder over these issues. It makes little sense to leave India in the hands of just politicians alone. The stakes are getting higher every week, and by the day.