Leaders make nations through their decisions. India’s leaders not only failed to make decisions that put people on the path to prosperity, but many of their decisions did exactly the opposite. Taken as a collective, India’s Prime Ministers failed every test of leadership – as defined by creating prosperity for the people.
India’s leaders failed on each of the five attributes of leadership. None of them prioritised economic growth and mass prosperity. None understood the roadmap to prosperity. None had the best talent in place around them. None had a sense of urgency. And on the fifth point, while many were good communicators, since there was no internal belief in reforms, none could communicate and persuade the people on the policies needed for growth. A few half-hearted efforts were made, but they lacked inner belief. India did not get its Lee Kuan Yew or Deng Xiaoping or John Cowperthwaite. And so India stayed at the bottom of the prosperity class – missing out opportunity after opportunity to change course and create wealth for its people.
The real tragedy is that India’s leaders refused to even copy the success stories of other countries. It was all happening in front of them, and they ignored what the others were doing. Even Japan’s leaders put aside their pride and learnt from the West as part of the Meiji restoration. And India wasn’t isolated like North Korea. Our leaders travelled the world, met with global leaders – but sadly did not learn the lessons that they should have learned. This is their real failure. And sadly, none are held to account – some are even revered.
Will things change? After all, it needs one leader to change India’s economic trajectory. That leader has yet to emerge. The current system of Indian politics will not throw up such a leader. That is why we need a political revolution before the economic transformation can happen. Only through economic growth can we make a great nation. Will another generation be wasted? Or, can we, the people, unite to make that happen? The choice is ours.