Nandan Nilekani, Chairman of Unique Identity Authority of India (UIDAI) and Head of Government’s Tech Committee (TAGUP), has thrown his hat in to the Indian Political Ring. He is likely to be fielded as a Congress candidate from the South Bangalore constituency in the 2014 General Elections. And, with it the talk of naming him the Prime Ministerial Candidate of Congress in the General Elections, 2014, is also doing the rounds. This is what this short piece is about.
Sirsi, in Uttara Kannada District of Karnataka, is his native heath. His credentials can make everyone proud and envious. He is a 2006 Padma Bhushan; Doctor of Law by Rotman School of Management of the University of Toronto-May 2011; One of ‘World’s Most Influential People’ in the Times 100 list – Time magazine 2009; Joseph Schumpeter Prize for innovative services in Economic Sciences , 2005; Youngest Enterpreneur to join 20 Global leaders on the World Economic Forum (WEF) Foundation Board, January 2006; Author of the book “Imagining India”- a radical rethinking of one of the World’s Great Economies; and Co-Founder, Infosys. He is deserving even while he is desirous.
Should Nandan Nilekani be named, elected, and made the Prime Minister (post Congress victory in the elections !), he’ll be the First Enterpreneur businessman to occupy the coveted seat in Indian History. Does this bode well ? The post of PM of a nation and that of CEO of a business are as different as chalk and cheese. While CEO’s post is complicated, demanding, and multifaceted requiring the key attribute of DECISION-MAKING, the PM’s job is equally complicated, demanding and multifaceted in a different way requiring the individual to inspire, motivate, captivate and engage heartily the people at all levels of the strata of society. It requires a heavy dose of Social Life experience; knowledge of the wants and needs of the people, and flashes of wisdom. Nilekani wields strength as a well known technocrat and economic scientist besides being wealthy. The 64 thousand dollar question, however, is whether he will be capable of providing a Government with potential to lift the economy and to create more jobs.
Experiences from other nations usually throw some light on these issues. A parallel between the two great democracies of the world is in order here. Indian Prime Minister (Principal Head of Government; Chief of Government) is comparable in position and responsibilities to the POTUS (President of the United States). America, in its history, had many Enterpreneur/Business Presidents. When we consider the last 100 years and specially since Herbert Hoover in 1928, analysing the performance of their governments, one finds that best performances have come from individuals with NO Enterpreneurial experience. Franklin D Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and Obama were not enterpreneurs but whose terms witnessed HIGH GDP & STRONG STOCK MARKET PERFORMANCE. Herbert Hoover, Jimmy Carter, and George HW Bush were enterpreneurs who presided over WORST STOCK MARKET PERFORMANCES. Warren G Harding, 1920 GOP nominee and an enterpreneur, during his campaign published a booklet with the title, “Less Government in Business, More Business in Government”. He won but took the not so commanding verdict of one of the most corrupt administration(s) in US history. Again an enterpreneur’s failure here.
This sure is a peripheral and not an exhaustive analysis. Nevertheless, the conclusion emerging from this is that Enterpreneur Businessmen do not have a good record of the Govt presided by them.
In this light, one ponders whether Nilekani’s enterpreneurial experience will be relevant or not to the position of Indian Prime Minister? Also whether business acumen and political acumen are really correlated or not ? The answers to both these questions will perhaps be a firm ‘NO”.
Will it be better then to nip the bud of clamour and common talk of naming Nandan Nilekani as Prime Ministerial candidate of Congress with a clear and immediate statement ? The answer to this is perhaps a firm ‘Yes’.
Will the people then shower Nilekani with blossoming flowers of a Grand Political Entry at the Lok Sabha level ? The cat, sure, will be sitting on the fence until the judgement day. Let us not count the chickens before they are hatched.
If you want to live like a successful congress businessman, vote for a different party.
” Dieu avec nous “
Monday, January 13, 2014 – 10. 39 p.m. (IST)
Tidbit : ” The Business of Government is to keep the Government out of Business, unless businessmen needs Government Aid.” – Will Rogers.