Beware of Bully Leadership

By Prabhakar Timble
27 December 2013 10:35 IST

Amul claims itself to be the ‘taste of India’. TVS to market its new range of bikes and non-geared vehicles launches the campaign ‘drive for India’.  Republic day celebrations echo the sounds of “run for India”.  Tata claims its iodized product as the ‘salt of India’.  Pepsi & Coke which have nothing Indian sponsor the Indian cricket team packaging it as “fight for India”. For the Union ministry of tourism it is ‘Incredible India’. For emotional enticement, it is ‘Mera Bharat Mahaan’. 1975 saw the debut of this gimmick in political marketing when Indira Gandhi was elevated to India. Now, we witness the abuse of India as a publicity stunt by the BJP Prime Ministerial designate Narendra Modi.  The attention-grabbing tricks have multiplied from the date the bugle for the 2014 elections was blown. With the slogans of Save India, United India, Aakhand Bharat and now Vote for India, Modi is lifted to the eminence of India and sought to be made synonymous with pride and patriotism for the nation.  Our masses still get swayed by the marketing jargons and rhetoric around the nation. It is the PR classes who coin this to swing the masses away from real issues and sedate them with emotion and passion. The price that people have to finally pay for acceptance and tolerance to bully leadership in politics is indeed high. If bully leaders gain political power, the first casualty is democracy, freedom and diversity. 

The urban middle class finds comfort, security and speed in such leaders.  These are also the expectations of the business, trade and industry. They look at government as a provider of infrastructure and clearing agent of investment projects. Big business houses prefer bully political leaders as opposed to those who value participation and inclusiveness.  This explains the rise of political leadership styles as found in N. T. Rama Rao, Karunanidhi, Jayalalitha, Narendra Modi and Mayawati. Bullying was also a part of political leadership culture of Indira Gandhi but it was tampered with deliberate programmes of equity, welfare and justice.

Industry magnates would pour any amount of money as political donation to such satraps.   Such an exchange has fewer risks as the bully leader is a single-window clearance.  Once such people are in power, democratic dialogue and dissenting voices can be dealt with an iron hand.    

What is needed for rural India and in the unorganized urban sector is participative governance. It needs to incorporate the vision set by the Aam Aadmi Party through modifications and trimming of the extreme unworkable corners. The inclusive growth strategy adopted by Nitish Kumar with focus on outcomes in terms of human development provides the relevant learning. The Congress philosophy has been inclusive development. The Congress has also stood with progressive thought and ideals enshrined in the Indian Constitution.

Wherever Narendra Modi takes the election platform, the language of politics is neither exclusive nor inclusive. It is intrusive, invasive and offensive. Every attempt is made to run down individuals in the most brazen language. Every opportunity is seized to make derogatory remarks based on region, religion and caste of other political leaders. Modi distorts history with confidence and in an aggressive and arrogant style.  The Indian electorate would realize that we cannot afford a Prime Minister whose vision is to put back the clock of social progress by reinventing and irrigating the discriminatory and regressive cultural roots.

It is generally felt after UPA-II, that an alternative is needed to the Congress. A ride to the Congress in the new Lok Sabha on the horseback of secularism looks impossible. BJP is emerging as the alternative for clean governance and development. However, BJP under Modi scoffs at secularism and mocks at modern social values. For the Congress, secularism is the opposite of communalism. The   BJP pits secularism against nationalism. Both show a poor understanding of a secular lifestyle.

Congress could get a beating and Modi’s BJP may not be in a position to form a government. Though coalition has its costs, it is an alternative which looks more probable.   If BJP wins under a bully leader, the nation loses. Bullies arm-twist people. They humiliate, ridicule and condemn people to life of disgrace. Bullies attack victims or the less powerful consistently. Bullies act to intimidate, frighten and create a climate of threat. Bully leadership and wicked personality goes together. Cronies think as leader thinks, swing as leader swings.

It is actually an anti-thesis and paradox that a democratic nation is in search to elect a “hero” as the saviour of nation and the people. “Saviour” leadership is mythical. Our leaders cannot be higher, stronger and better than we ourselves are. Arvind Kejriwal has put forth the concept of “servant” leadership. This looks to be more appropriate. The future democratic politics of a diverse society like India would be a healthy mix of servant leadership and the leader as a coach and developer. If any political party is all out to promote bully leadership, the voters should checkmate this unwelcome trend.

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Prabhakar Timble

Mr Prabhakar Timble is an educationist and a legal expert. He has served several educational institutions, especially as the Principal of Government College at Quepem, Kare College of Law in Madgao as well as couple of Management Institutes. He was also the State Election Commissioner of Goa.

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Previous Comments

This is true predicted article. Today bullying leadership is actually doing distortion of history and presenting the past leaders in bad light.. this should not be the way..

The political debates have become personal debates. The present government has become so arrogance that all truth is also highlighted as lies.

I can say that PM Manmohan Singh has taken India at a great development speeds when world was in recession and oil price were at its peak. At least a due respect should be given to him instead it's being projected that no development happened in last 10 years...

- Ashish, g | 28 th March 2016 12:58

 

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