Monday, March 12, 2007

Laloo vs Chidambaram -Who is a Leader??

The objective of this post is to make an attempt to compare the Union Railway Minister Laloo Prasad Yadav (LP) and the Union Finance Minister Mr Chidambaram (PC) as leaders.

This however is not a research based exercise of collecting data over time and discussing the respective leadership styles of these gentlemen , but a limited effort of comparing them in the context of the recent budgets that they presented (The Railway budget and the Union Budget)

Backgrounds –

PC – Harvard Educated , suave , MP from Sivaganga , well known for his pro-market reforms and and for his bold steps to abolish red tape during his earlier tenure as finance minister between 1996 and 1998.

LP- The leader of the backward castes , has used caste equations to the hilt to win elections , has no credibility with the urban folks, the rustic ,uneducated village bumpkin , a man who would be ridiculed by most of us (me strongly included) . Image tarnished by the fodder scam, installed his wife as CM of Bihar and ruled the state through proxy

In the next few paragraphs, I am attempting to compare LP and PC based on the following 3 parameters only.

a) The Budget Speech
b) Reaction to the budgets
c) Implications on national development

I will not end this post with an evaluation , that is something that I leave my reader to do ……..

The Budget Speech:

LP engaged the audience with his rustic charm, as if he was addressing a rally in Champaran or Madhubani . The rival MP’s did not have much to say, the budget speech sailed through ……

PC was in his best English, he spoke in a manner which very few people in the country understand (and those who do don’t go to vote anyways…). I guess there was not much rancour in the parliament, considering the ability of our MP’s to comprehend reasonable English, I was not surprised, …..did they understand enough to comment on the content ??……. After the Budget speech , journalists asked PC the definition of the Aam Admi (or the common man…remember the common man ….and the Congress slogan…Congress ka haath Aam Admi ke saath…) . PC responded by defining the common man in about 5 minutes, and the definition of the common man was more philosophical and would obfuscate the most erudite listener, when the same question was asked to LP he comes back with a sharp and succinct reply ,the Aam admi is the backbencher of society whom LP wants to bring to the front benches

To me this is an example which displays rare clarity of thought and PC with all his erudition leaves the aam admi confused …!!

Reactions to the Budget

PC’s budget was labeled as regressive by the industry captains and also by his left wing allies ,Sitaram Yechury displayed his angst in public. Kapil Sibal tried hard to bail him out in the post budget discussions, but failed miserably

LP’s railway budget was looked upon as progressive and developmental, industry captains like Rahul Bajaj , and prominent people like Tarun Das hailed LP and his team's efforts

Implications on National development

PC’s budget was not seen to be growth friendly, the protagonists of his budget say that he has assumed that the industry would do well anyways and therefore he wanted to take away some things from them and to allocate it to the other sectors. People like me (the naysayer to this budget) would like to draw your attention to the increase in the Education Cess .Without a clear gameplan for its utilization it is indeed a regressive move (for additional perspectives on Education Cess you may want to read my previous post titled Education Cess-Lost opportunity for inclusive development . Well this is however a long debate and without going into the deadly details of the budget and its implications, its safe to assume that the Budget did not make either Corporate India or the Left parties happy.

LP’s railway budget reflected a clear game plan of process improvement, efficiencies, commercialization - a strategy that is clearly evident from the last 3 budgets that he has presented ( for some more details you may want to read my post on Laloo and Leadership ??- url: . I would suspect by not increasing the railway fares he did win a lot of goodwill from the Indian public.

I would like to leave my readers with the following questions:

a)Is PC the apostle of development? , or has times changed and the new messiah for inclusive development is LP !!

b)Can PC carry out the agenda of reforms through seamless execution , or do you need a hard task master like LP ?

c) Who is more equipped to spread the gains of development to larger sections of society –PC whose ability to connect with the masses is limited or LP who is the darling of the backward castes …!!

d)Is sophistication the only yardstick for acceptance of leadership by the urban elite?

These are my questions, and I am sure you have many such questions and parameters ….I would like to hear from you, .....your views and perspectives on the same ….looking forward to your comments on this subject


1 comment:

Cosmic Voices said...

The potential of growth for Railways seems to be declining. Without expenditure on improving the infrastructure, the future growth is not possible and LP, probably in a bid to show greater revenues, has decreased the expenditure in infrastructure building and modernization. The effect would be visible in a few years down the line.