New Age Leadership

Since the dawn of human civilization, history has witnessed countless rulers and iconic leaders all across the world. While some like George Washington, Franklin Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Akbar the Great are remembered, adored and admired for their progressive outlook, constructive mindset, positive attitude and above all pro-humanistic statesmanship, at the same time many others like Nero Claudius, Adolf Hitler, Benito and Mussolini,  are abhorred, shunned and despised for their cruel and barbaric behavior, divisive politics, destructive mindset, anti-human policies and eccentric mental attitudes. While the former are accepted, followed and presented to the world as role models, beacon lights and torch bearers of progress and development, at the same time latter are rejected, disliked and presented to the world as instances of barbarity, meanness, stupidity and fickle-mindedness. Therefore the succinct take-home message is do good and become immortal in the golden books of history or do evil and be remembered as a retard for all generations to come.

Most valued, remarkable and cherished strengths of any nation are its atmosphere of peace, tranquility, amity, brotherhood, harmony, stability, safety, security, equity, justice, law and order. An ambience where the citizens are not only at peace with themselves but also at peace with all others across the sectarian and religious divides bears paramount significance for the growth and productivity of any nation.

However peace here refers to real peace of heart, mind and soul not merely a calm enforced through the writ of a baton.

It implies a country where people earn their livelihood, nurture their culture and identity, practice their religion freely, feel happy and spend time with their families and friends, enjoy equitable access to education and healthcare, visit places, play sports and have fun together without any fear of losing their jobs, suffering losses in businesses, getting evicted from their roots, getting lynched, losing their home and hearth in riots or facing discrimination at their native or work places.

A leader who resolves long-pending conflicts amicably and succeeds in achieving these goals in a country alone can be termed as a successful, iconic and towering leader worthy of veneration.

As they say big people make big mistakes that are fraught with devastating consequences on a huge section of the human population. Their ill-devised policies and uncalled for actions wreak havoc to a vast section of the society. Leaders like Hitler suffering from unwanted personality traits like narcissistic, histrionic, paranoid or shizotypal cult features turn out to be a curse for their entire nation bringing nothing but misery, anarchy, chaos, suffering, poverty, hunger and pain to their own people whereas well-meaning and level-headed leaders like Abraham Lincoln become a blessing for their subjects bringing peace, progress, stability, prosperity, development and amity back to their nation.

On the contrary, practice of disruptive and divisive politics inspired by communal, caste, creed or colour-based fascist ideologies is destined to bear disastrous consequences by causing pervading instability,  widening poor-rich divide, simmering tensions and sometimes even group clashes and riots among castes, sects and religious communities. This brand of politics breeds dictatorship, lack of trust, transparency and  accountability, dishonesty, nepotism, discrimination, corruption and a whole lot of other vices in the society.

Humanity has just stepped into the third decade of twenty first century that is witnessing an unprecedented resonance in the advent of science and use of technology in areas like artificial intelligence, robotics, big data analytics, block chain revolution, unmanned surface and air vehicles, advanced tech-savy healthcare, digital boom, space technology etc.

Under these fast changing circumstances countries that will keep pace and quickly adopt to these changing trends and technologies will emerge victorious in a goal-based sustainable development framework whereas countries that will continue to remain entrapped in morbid, archaic and moribund divisive and disruptive politics based on caste, creed, colour and religion will be destined to be doomed and pushed behind by centuries.

That is because when you discriminate, dehumanize, marginalize and derogate a sizeable chunk of your own population making them feel like aliens in their own country you are already setting the stage for instability, insecurity, uncertainty, fear, apprehensions and depression. This finally impedes the advancement and emergence of any nation as a progressive and developed world leader.

A successful leader of a nation is the one whose public appearance instills confidence, builds trust and security among all his fellow-countrymen irrespective of their religious or political beliefs. In times of disaster and devastation such leaders boost morale and inspire resilience and resurgence from the crippling damages.

However a disruptive leader unwittingly injects feelings of apprehension, fear and trepidation among his citizens as a result of his regressive announcements and destabilizing declarations that sometimes seek to levy heavy taxes upon the people and sometimes seek to make a vast section of the population homeless, jobless, foodless and penniless in their own country besides imposing unnecessary restrictions on civil liberties, undeclared curbs on democratic institutions or suspending constitutional guarantees like freedom of thought, expression, peaceful democratic dissent and practice of religion.

This brand of politics based on hatred, hostility and alienation ultimately causes a large chunk of the population to get marginalized, suffer from stress, depression and anxiety as a result of which they become unproductive and do not find themselves in a position to contribute positively towards the growth, progress and development of their nation. This finally marks the beginning of a long haul of regression, instability and uncertainty in the country and conditions like these can never be conducive for foreign as well as indigenous investment, industrialization, growth and job creation leading to a drastic drop in GDP, decline in happiness and development index, economic slowdown and increasing poverty, hunger, unemployment and disharmony.

New age world leaders have to sharply deviate from the conventional and run-of-the-mill behaviour and act more like hard-working and efficient managers rather than grandiose emperors of their countries. They have to shun their age old, larger than life portraits and come down to earth facing hard realities on ground.

They have to act and behave like average citizens and show concern on each and every predicament and suffering of their people. New age leadership can best be exemplified by the model of constructive politics presented recently by countries like Canada and New Zealand during the coronavirus pandemic.

Jacinda Ardern and Justin Trudeau emerged as the most accessible and successful leaders by leading from the front, interacting on daily basis with their people, revealing their plan of action, instilling confidence, showing direction, exhibiting full control over the emerging situation besides ensuring public participation, transparency and accountability in their decisions, while at the same time ensuring that none of their citizens or even migrants suffer for want of food, shelter, medicines, healthcare, transportation, advice, consular services or even on account of loneliness while staying in their home quarantines.

They even showed enough concern for their pets and domestic animals. Hallmark of their success was their honesty, sincerity and transparency in all their dealings, decisions and actions. No facts or figures were hidden or distorted by them to suit their convenience during their press briefings. These are the desirable traits of new age world leaders that count the most since no leader can ever fool all the people all the time.

A time comes when people can very well sense the real intent, level of sincerity, honesty of purpose behind the actions and decisions of their rulers. Thereafter disruptive politics will not only prove to be short-lived but self-defeating and counterproductive too and hence need to be shunned and substituted by constructive politics in the changing post-COVID geo-political world order.

Therefore it is high time for all political leaders of the world to show compassion, be kind, heal the broken hearts, apply some soothing balm on the soaring wounds, resolve conflicts, end discrimination of all sorts, bridge the divides, promote harmony, love and trust among sects and communities, shun all kinds of hypocrisy, hatred and bigotry, liberate democratic institutions of all undue curbs, restrictions and controls and above all be honest and true to themselves.

They need to stop fooling people through petty politicking and misleading gimmicks. Their success in politics should be judged by their achievements on various indices of inclusive growth, peace, progress, development, happiness, lack of pollution, corruption, discrimination rather than their political rhetoric.

New age leaders should have a first-hand feel of the pulse of their nation besides an eye on the emerging geo-political and international scenario. They must keep pace with fast changing global trends and steer their nation on that very path. Then only they can emerge as successful world leaders whose glorious contributions will be remembered for all times to come.

(Views expressed are author’s own)