Leadership / 04.01.2008

By Dipankar Gupta Just because we live in a democracy does not mean that we deserve the leaders we get. It is as unrealistic to believe that voters can choose an ideal candidate as it is for a consumer to get that ideal car, refrigerator, washing machine, or whatever. Till the mid 1980s our roads were clogged by historical throwbacks in the shape of Ambassador or Fiat 1100 cars. The car of our dreams, that ideal four wheeler, was nowhere on the horizon. Yet we bought, sold and drove these unwieldy monsters for only these junkyard machines were available in the market place. And there the matter ended. The same principle holds in the political arena as well. It is true we choose our leaders in a highly festive, often carnival like, atmosphere. In spite of the festoons and speeches, posters and ballots, charisma and chicanery, we are...

Democracy/Governance / 04.01.2008

It is important to record the fact (without prejudging it at this stage) that China has postponed till 2020 the date of direct elections (under universal suffrage) to the legislature in Hong Kong. We will take this into consideration when we develop our thesis on governance in developing societies. It is also of interest to record that the British ruled Hong Kong for 150 years without it occurring to them how wonderful it was to be governed through the exercise of universal suffrage. It was only guaranteed in the Basic Law that was established when Britain handed the territory back to China in 1997. So it was a parting gift that China has refused to accept. And this refusal is quite enough to trigger a lot of thinking and rethinking. Let us think before we rush to judgment. But lest we be misunderstood, let us also reiterate that...