Monday, August 25, 2014
Friday, August 15, 2014
मोदी सरकार को सत्ता में आए करीब ढाई माह हो चुके हैं। इतने कम समय में किसी निश्चित निष्कर्ष पर पहुंचना अभी बहुत जल्दबाजी होगी, लेकिन बदलाव के संकेत दिखने लगे हैं और एक बड़ी तस्वीर स्पष्ट होने लगी है। हां, इतना अवश्य है कि जहां लोगों को आमूलचूल बड़े परिवर्तन की अपेक्षा थी वहां निरंतरता पर आधारित छोटे-छोटे बदलाव नजर आ रहे हैं। बजट में बहुत बड़े बदलाव की अपेक्षा पाले बैठे लोगों को भी कुछ निराशा हुई है। इसी तरह जो लोग अनुदार हिंदू तानाशाही के उभार का डर पाले हुए थे वे ऐसा कुछ न होने के प्रति आश्वस्त हुए हैं। प्रधानमंत्री न तो अधिक तेजी से अपने प्रशंसकों की तमाम बड़ी अपेक्षाओं को पूरा कर सकते हैं और न ही अपने दुश्मनों के डर को समूल खत्म कर सकते हैं। इससे पता चलता है कि भारत में किस तरह सत्ता का संचालन होता है। इस निरंतरता की सकारात्मक व्याख्या यही है कि यह भारतीय राज्य के दिनोंदिन अधिक परिपक्व होने को दर्शाता है। इसका नकारात्मक पहलू यह है कि मोदी भी शासन में रातोंरात बड़ा बदलाव शायद नहीं कर सकते। प्रधानमंत्री ने स्वयं भी इससे अपनी मौन सहमति जताई है। वह अधूरे पड़े कामों को पूरा करने में जुटे हैं और यह कोई खराब बात नहीं है। जैसा कि वह कहते भी हैं कि काम करने वाले ज्यादा बोलते नहीं।
इस सरकार द्वारा किए गए थोड़े बहुत किए गए कार्य यही बताते हैं कि मोदी सरकार का मंत्र मौन क्रियान्वयन है। इस संदर्भ में जो महत्वपूर्ण बदलाव हुआ है वह केंद्रीय नौकरशाही के रुख-रवैये से संबंधित है। रिपोर्ट बताती हैं कि वही पुराने अफसर आम लोगों से अधिक आसानी से मिल रहे हैं, उनके फोन उठा रहे हैं और काम कर रहे हैं। समय पर मीटिंग हो रही हैं और यहां तक कि सुबह के नौ बजे भी अधिकारी बैठक कर रहे हैं। इराक में युद्ध क्षेत्र से जिस तरह 48 घंटों के भीतर केरल की नसरें को वापस उनके घर पहुंचाया गया वह प्रशासन के नए तौर तरीकों को दर्शाता है। दूसरा काम बुनियादी ढांचे से जुड़ी परियोजनाओं में तेजी दिखाने का है, जिससे नए रोजगार अवसरों के सृजन की शुरुआत हुई है। तीसरा संकेत विदेश मंत्रालय में आए नए उत्साह और उद्देश्यपरकता का है। पड़ोसी देशों से संबंध सुधारे जा रहे हैं, जिससे हमारी सुरक्षा सुदृढ़ होगी। नेपाल, बांग्लादेश और भूटान के लोगों का नजरिया भारत के प्रति बदला है। इसी तरह एक और बड़ा प्रशासनिक बदलाव लोगों को प्रमाणपत्रों के प्रशासनिक अधिकारियों के द्वारा सत्यापन से निजात दिलाना है। अब जन्म प्रमाणपत्र, अंकपत्र आदि के सत्यापन के लिए राजपत्रित अधिकारियों के हस्ताक्षर अथवा नोटरी से हलफनामे की आवश्यकता नहीं होगी। आप गांवों में रहने वाली उन विधवाओं के बारे में कल्पना कीजिए जो सरकारी लाभ पाने के लिए एक अधिकारी से हस्ताक्षर कराने के लिए पूरे दिन यात्रा करने को विवश होती हैं और इसके लिए अंतत: उन्हें रिश्वत देनी पड़ती है। वास्तविक दस्तावेजों की आवश्यकता अब भी होगी, लेकिन लालफीताशाही खत्म होगी और ब्रिटिश राज की औपनिवेशिक मानसिकता से मुक्ति मिलेगी।
इस क्त्रम में श्रम से संबंधित तीन बड़े सुधार किए गए हैं। हालांकि सरकार द्वारा इस दिशा में उठाए गए कदम पर्याप्त नहीं हैं, लेकिन इससे श्रम कानून में सुधार का रास्ता खुला है। इन सुधारों से कर्मचारी लाभान्वित होंगे और उद्योग-व्यापार कार्य अधिक आसान बनेगा। कंपनियों को नए कर्मचारियों की भर्ती करने में आसानी होगी और नियोक्ता नए लोगों को कौशल प्रशिक्षण देने के लिए प्रोत्साहित होंगे, विशेषकर ग्रामीण क्षेत्रों में। इसी तरह निरीक्षणों के संबंध में श्रम मंत्रालय के नए कानूनों से छोटी विनिर्माण इकाइयों को श्रम निरीक्षकों के भय से निजात मिलेगी। हमारे निरीक्षकों को याद होना चाहिए कि यह प्रणाली 1880 में अपनाई गई थी। उस समय निरीक्षण के दो प्रकार थे। एक संदिग्ध के खिलाफ, जिसमें उसकी खामियों-कमियों को खोजा जाता था ताकि उन्हें ठीक किया जा सके। दूसरा काम मित्रवत मार्गदर्शन का था, जिसकी सदिच्छा चीजों को ठीक करने की होती थी। यह सही है कि भ्रष्ट श्रम निरीक्षक रातोंरात बदल नहीं जाएंगे, लेकिन उनके व्यवहार को अब कड़ाई से नियंत्रित अवश्य किया जा सकता है। जहां तक महंगाई की बात है तो सरकार ने एफसीआइ के गोदामों में पड़े 50 लाख से एक करोड़ टन खाद्यान्नों को बेचने की बात कही है। महज इसकी घोषणा से बाजार में खाद्यान्न कीमतों में गिरावट आ गई। इस कदम को दूसरी अन्य महत्वपूर्ण चीजों के मामले में भी अपनाया जा सकता है। सब्जियों के मामले में भी अधिक तेजी से हवाई जहाजों के माध्यम से रणनीतिक आयात के द्वारा सरकार आपूर्ति बढ़ाकर महंगाई को नियंत्रण में ला सकती है। कृषि उत्पाद बाजार समितियों अथवा एपीएमसी के एकाधिकार को खत्म करने के लिए निजी किसान मंडियों का सहारा लिया जा सकता है। बजट में शीतभंडारण गृहों की श्रृंखला स्थापित करने की बात कही गई है, इससे किसानों को लाभ होगा और उपभोक्ता वस्तुओं की कीमत में कमी आएगी।
संप्रग सरकार के समय में शुरू की गई आधार योजना अधिक तर्कसंगत बनाने की बात कही गई है, जो अच्छा कदम है। भुगतान के लिए बायोमीट्रिक तकनीक को मोबाइल फोन से जोड़े जाने से हजारों करोड़ की बचत होगी। इस तरह जवाबदेह प्रशासनिक कामकाज से आम लोगों को लाभ होगा। कुछ नकारात्मक बातें भी हुई हैं। मेरे विचार से डब्ल्यूटीओ वार्ता में भारत को विघ्नकर्ता की भूमिका नहीं निभानी चाहिए। भारत कृषि का बड़ा निर्यातक देश है और यह हमारे हित में है कि लालफीताशाही कम हो और सीमा शुल्क संबंधी औपचारिकताएं तर्कसंगत हों। भारत कमजोर बहुपक्षीय प्रणाली को कमतर आंक रहा है, जिससे अंतत: हमें ही सर्वाधिक लाभ होना है। कुल मिलाकर मोदी सरकार के कामों और उनकी कार्यशैली को देखते हुए हम कह सकते हैं कि नया मंत्र मौन क्रियान्वयन है। बहुत अधिक बातें और काम बहुत थोड़ा करने वाले हमारे देश में यह कार्यप्रणाली एक ताजी हवा की तरह है। जो लोग 15 अगस्त को प्रधानमंत्री से एक दूरदर्शी भाषण की अपेक्षा कर रहे हैं उनका इंतजार आज खत्म होगा।
Sunday, August 03, 2014
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Tuesday, July 08, 2014
Modi’s landslide victory invites us to be more imaginative in thinking about the nature of human dignity , to move from prejudice to a question. By electing a chai-wallah’s son, who affirmed the aspirations of the millions who have pulled themselves up in the post-reform decades through their own efforts into the middle-class, we are forced to challenge our assumption that selling vegetables is socially degrading. If an upper-class zamindar, who takes time off from his idle life of breeding race horses to stand behind a counter in the belief that supplying people with good vegetables at a fair price, or driving them to their destination in a three-wheeler, is inherently worthwhile, the prejudice might give way to a fairer assessment of human worth.
Ruskin is not only challenging how we judge shopkeepers; he also wants shopkeepers to take their own dignity more seriously . Modi’s victory has made us believe that: 1) anyone can aspire to middle-class status; 2) if one imbibes its values of thrift, ambition, industry and prudence; and 3) a middle-class society is a good society.
Narendra Modi has now been prime minister for six weeks and it is abundantly clear that this is a “Modi Sarkar“. He has established direct contact with secretaries at the head of government departments, encouraging them to take decisions and get in touch with him if things go sour. Ministers have an ambiguous place in this setup, which is probably a good thing considering the mediocre level of his cabinet. Ministers could not be happy -they have been forbidden to hire relatives or introduce personal considerations in their decisions.
Otherwise, this has been a period of welcome silence and calm after the din and clatter of the election. Now we need to see some action after months of talk. In one respect Modi should not be silent. He should learn from his predecessor’s mistake and insistently make a compelling political case for economic reform. He must keep educating Indians about the link between reforms, jobs, opportunities and prosperity . He needs to explain that only the competitive market (not giveaways) can deliver a middle-class society and that a rules-based capitalism leads to dignity, not crony capitalism. Unfortunately, he frittered away a golden opportunity to do this in the disappointing address of the President.
Modi has spoken about “tough“ decisions that are urgently needed to enforce financial discipline, and they risk losing popular good will. With this warning he has set the stage for a hard-nosed budget on Thursday. When it comes to price increases, he would do well to follow TN Ninan’s advice -take price increases in small bites and frequently, and avoid the fiasco over the increase in railway fares.
Achche din aane wale hain (Good days are coming), was Modi’s response to his victory.
Those few words carry a massive burden of aspirations but with a clear majority in the Lok Sabha and supremacy in his own party , he is the first Indian leader in a long time to have the freedom to act on his convictions. He is getting plenty of advice -the politico-bureaucratic system is trying to co-opt him, attempting to make him one of its own. He is being advised to be prudent, to make incremental changes and not unsettle the system. But he must not forget that an aspiring nation has elected him precisely because he is an outsider and wants him to shake up the system. So, he must not listen too much to others and follow his own dharma.
Friday, June 20, 2014
If there is one lesson we have learned about leadership in recent years, it is that we overvalue intelligence and undervalue determination. When choosing our leaders we betray an instinctive bias for thought over action even though history teaches us that great leaders were great doers, not great thinkers. Outstanding leaders have always had the qualities of resolve, purpose and determination in abundance, and this helped them to change the world. With a PhD from Oxford University, our last prime minister was probably the leader most generously endowed with intelligence and academic credentials. But he failed. He neither had the willpower to prevail over events, nor the ability to translate thought into action. Sickened by the drift and paralysis of the last government, the Indian voter has now chosen the opposite type of leader.
Narendra Modi's defining qualities are a sense of purpose, accompanied by attention to detail, and backed by plenty of grit and fierce determination. These are quintessential abilities of an implementer, someone who knows how to get things done. These qualities were on generous display during his election campaign and if he runs the country as well as his campaign we have good reasons to be hopeful. The answers to India's problems have less to do with new ideas and new laws and more to do with implementing old ideas and old laws. Modi reminded us of this truth time and again during the past year, and those who know him well have said the same thing-his strength lies in execution. It is time we had an executive in charge of our country, someone capable of delivering results. It is for this reason that I-a liberal, secular Indian who does not find Hindutva or BJP particularly appealing-voted for him.
Indians do well in strategy, lag in execution
McKinsey & Co, the respected management consulting company, discovered in a famous global study in the 1990s that high performing companies distinguished themselves by execution. Its data on India reinforced the bias for action. In its sample of 35 major Indian companies, based on interviews with more than 600 executives, it concluded: "While many Indian companies perform well on strategy, they are lagging in execution.
Foreigners sometimes remind us that Indians are bright. But they are too polite to add that they can also be 'over-smart'. Indians think and argue too much, see too many angles, and don't act enough. It makes hiring and recruiting talent particularly difficult, for we come out sounding good in interviews, and how do you separate the doers from the talkers? The gap between thought and action is so pervasive in Indian life that I sometimes despair if weak execution is, in fact, a deficit in character.
My experience as a practising manager and later as a board member or consultant confirms that while most managers usually achieve a reasonably robust strategy, they implement poorly. I am also associated with a private equity fund that has invested in many Indian companies over the past 10 years, and it has reinforced this conclusion: The best firms are not the ones with the best business model but the best execution ability.
The story of Narendra Modi's climb from serving chai to passengers on the railway platform of a sleepy Gujarat town to 7, Race Course Road illustrates many things, including his leadership style. As he rose in life to take on positions of increasing responsibility in the RSS and later in the Gujarat government, Modi was not content with laying broad policies. Unlike our previous prime minister, he did not abdicate responsibility for implementation to those below him. He surrounded himself with people with execution ability like himself, set clear, measurable goals, and created small 'implementation' teams. Instead of pronouncing on strategy, he got into the messy details of a project, monitored day-to-day performance, removing obstacles for those who were implementing it, staying close to them and motivating them. He recognised those who took initiative and risks, and punished those who played safe and behaved like bureaucrats. And he did all this without appearing to be interfering or micro-managing. Thus, he got fairly ordinary Gujaratis to do pretty extraordinary things.
I first heard Narendra Modi speak at Shri Ram College of Commerce in Delhi in February 2013, and it opened a window to his leadership abilities. It was his first speech in a long campaign to be prime minister, and he declared his ambition right away. Unlike coy Rahul Gandhi and the Congress party, who danced coquettishly around the subject, Modi sent an unambiguous message that he was hungry for the job. He was off to a head start, and his clarity of purpose was refreshing for the Indian voter.
Modi was also unambiguous about his specific goal-it was to gain a clear majority for the BJP. The chattering classes laughed each time he said it and thought he was mad. They did not know that impossible ambitions drive successful leaders. Managers call these 'stretch' targets, and their purpose is to rally troops around difficult tasks. Impossible targets have a way of motivating soldiers who forget their differences. They feel they 'own' the goal and the battle. Thus, charismatic leaders are known to achieve astonishing commonness of purpose among their subordinates-what business managers prosaically refer to as 'alignment'.
Great leaders are not nice people
Related to this, was another feature I observed about Modi's campaign-the importance of a unified team. Great leaders are not 'nice' people who seek popularity, and certainly not ones you would invite to a polite dinner party. Narendra Modi had to ensure unified command and had to get rid of rivals and sceptics, which explains why he had to marginalise L.K. Advani, Jaswant Singh and others. And why, at the same time, he had to move his most trusted lieutenant, the ambiguous Amit Shah, to perform the miracle of turning Uttar Pradesh around. And why, despite opposition from inside the party, he tied up with unsavoury, blemished politicians B.S. Yeddyurappa and Ram Vilas Paswan.
The word executive comes from 'one who executes'. The hallmark of an effective executive is good planning and attention to detail, which is an important lesson I learned at the company where I worked for many years, Procter & Gamble. (The other lesson was how to write a crisp one-page memo because you were not allowed a second page). Modi, as I have said, is an implementer, and hence planning and detail come naturally to him. What we saw on television was great oratory but behind the scenes was months of planning with dozens of karyakartas, who worked with discipline to orchestrate each event minute by minute.
Finally, Modi is a flawed individual, not unlike most of us. In his place, I would have expressed remorse a dozen times for the events in 2002, without of course, incriminating myself. I would have had a powerful think tank to feed me data, especially on economic and foreign policy issues. I could go on and on about his deficits. But at the end, his positive attributes clearly outweigh his faults. If there is one truth I would underline it is that without realising it, Narendra Modi seems to follow the British scientist Jacob Bronowski's advice. He believes that the world is not understood by contemplation but by action-"the hand is the cutting edge of the mind, as Bronowski put it.
Sunday, June 01, 2014
The typical voter who elected Modi was not a Hindu nationalist. He was a young, middle-of-the-road person, who had recently migrated from a village to a small town. He had got his first job and his first cellphone and he aspired to a life better than his father’s. The stocky, selfmade , son of a station chai-walla inspired him with his message of development and governance, making him forget his caste, religion, and village. The young man became convinced that his battle was not against other Indians but against a state that would not give him a birth certificate without paying a bribe.
The chai-walla assuaged his other Indian middle class insecurities. Our young aspirer discovered that he did not have to speak English to get ahead. “If the chaiwalla can aspire to lead our nation without English, there is nothing wrong if I am uncomfortable in it,” he thought. “I too can be modern in my mother tongue.” When he witnessed Modi perform aarti on his television screen in a riveting performance at the Dashashwamedh ghat by the Ganga in Varanasi, he felt deeply moved. Suddenly, he did not feel ashamed of being Hindu. The “secular” English speaking intelligentsia had heaped contempt on his “superstitious” ways and had made him feel inferior and inadequate. During his long campaign of political theatre, Modi decolonized his mind and thus bestowed dignity on him.
Modi mentioned the word “development” five hundred times for each time he mentioned “Hindutva”, according to a computer analysis of his speeches by Dr Walter Anderson, a US state department official. For a young person who belongs to the post-reform generation, and who has risen through his own initiative and hard work, “development” is a code word for opportunity in the competitive market place that Adam Smith called a “natural system of liberty” . This system flourishes in Gujarat, and not surprisingly the state is ranked number one on the Freedom Index among all Indian states. The government in this system helps create an enabling environment that allows free individuals to pursue their interests peacefully in an open, transparent market. After that, an “invisible hand” helps to gradually lift people into a dignified, middle class life, raising living standards all around.
Underlying dignity is the freedom that reforms bring when economic decisions move from the offices of politicians and bureaucrats to the market place. When Modi said that we should make development a jan andolan, a mass movement, he legitimized rules-based capitalism (in contrast to crony capitalism). In this respect he is like Margaret Thatcher and Deng who made their people believe in the market. It was the job that a reformer like Manmohan Singh was supposed to perform. But he didn’t even succeed in selling economic reforms to Sonia Gandhi and the Congress party. Modi should learn from his failure and convert the RSS to his “development” agenda, marginalizing its Hindutva agenda. McCloskey explains that the same thing happened in the West in the 19th century when the narrative of middle class aspirations for a better life triumphed over all other narratives as people became comfortable with market institutions.
Unlike the mood of diminished expectations in the West, ours is the age of rising expectations in India. Having attained hard-fought dignity, the aspiring voter is filled with self-confidence after electing Modi. But he is also impatient and unforgiving. If Modi does not deliver on his promises for development and governance, he will not be shy to boot him out at the next election. The ball is in Modi’s court.