Quality Leadership Missing
This is not to jeopardise one’s tall image and overwhelmingly popular personality but there are powerful people in our society who enjoy worships regardless of what. A meaningful rhyme comes to this life-long teacher’s mind. There was no rhyme in those days when our generation began primary schooling after a wave of changes appeared in post 1950 Nepal. There were school prayers, mostly religious types. This week this rhyme suddenly came on the top of the pen, so considering a debate following the former PM and NC president’s visit to India sharing this note may be worth it:
Leader? Leader? Yes Papa.
Went to India? Yes Papa.
Meeting Sangay? No Papa.
Telling lies? Ha Ha Ha !!!
It is a matter of great pleasure for the country and countrymen to see a top leader being awarded a highest academic degree. This occasion came in the fashion of reciprocity (President Mukherji was awarded such a degree by KU during his Nepal visit last month) yet it was a matter of glory for Mr (now Dr) Deuba, his party comradelier and the well-wishers. Is this degree saying we have very intelligent, book-worm leaders who know all the shastras on earth? It is not easy to make a guess, so we leave this here.
An anecdote also comes in the mind of this writer. It is presented because we are talking about quality in our leadership and this is possible only if our leaders are educated, pay attention to good advices, can update themselves and analyse the situation around them, hardworking and committed. This seems like a far-fetched hope from the unique and strange political creatures roaming in this country.
This true story is about two decades old. It concerns the former PM and Nepali Congress Chief Sher Bahadur Deuba and this writer. When this incident occurred, Deuba was not in power for some time and this scribe was the Executive Director of CNAS (Center for Nepal and Asian Studies), TU. CNAS had started a publication spree after many years of research and manuscript preparation. When the publication began to show its volume, market search was imminent. Therefore, the main objective of the meeting with the leader was to solicit support to sell the publications to the Parliament Library. The logic was: CNAS publications cover a wider aspect of Nepalis history prepared as a product of ‘National History Project’. These publications would be useful in understanding the country’s past. At least 15 sets of all the titles would be great help for CNAS.
After listening to the plea, this was his response (verbatim): ‘I want to see CNAS grow as a think tank so you have a big responsibility there. As far as supplying reading materials for the MPs through the library is concerned, I can’t force them to read as I myself find no time to read. Hence, book talk is over.’ There was no alternative left for the unsuccessful salesman except collecting the spread-out books and disappear from his parlour. But before that happened, Mrs (Dr) Arjoo Deuba appeared on the scene. Obviously aware of the summary of discussion, she inquired about the total price of a dozen books lying there and offered the price so she could read. Further, she suggested CNAS could count on her any time if and when women/gender related research publications were out.
Listening to a soft, civilised and high profile female voice next to the pair of rural ear was a bit unusual. But one small part of the big dream had instantly come true. There was no time for on-the-spot comment but in the mind of the publisher the feeling was strong: She should be the PM of Nepal. Years later, she is in the Parliament along with her hubby and bunch of kinsfolks. Who knows she does the hat trick and rides to the PM’s chair one day and sees to it that there is a strong need to make reading and research a part of our leadership.
This is a commonplace knowledge that education teaches how not to be selfish, how to follow ethical and moral values in life and share these values with others. See, for example how the parliamentarians push forward their demands when it comes to stash cash in their hungry pockets. Hungry eyes, hungry minds, hungry stomachs, this is what they seem to carry with them all the time. Their belly is never filled even after occasional and sudden rise in their salary, perks and related benefits. They never think of the resources, the condition of the people, the quake victims still in the torn out tarps and tents, and a host of realities their voters on the ground face on daily basis as part of their hard life.
The story does not stop here. Even the former MPs have shown how concerned they are and how far they can go in demanding host of benefits for their so-called security gear, allowances and what not. The current as well as the former MPs find it not only easy but also a matter of pride to dispel the existing regulations governing their income and get away with it without the smallest sense of shame. This is because of the sheer lack of study of the country’s current economic situation and capacity to bear what they want to thrust on the shoulder of the poor Nepalis. Approving fifty lakhs rupees for a leader’s preliminary health check is the result of ignorance. We all know how to set, not break, worst examples.
Finally, what does it all boil down to? There is a strong need of quality leadership. The current bunch of so-called leaders is not qualified to run the country. Devoid of conscience, determination, will power, and sensitivity how could one call him/herself a leader? Confucius once left the society and exiled himself to a forest. Asked, he said, “it is better to live in the forest and abide by the laws of the forest than stay with stupid officials.”
Later, he was promised a system, a rule of law and most importantly his participation in the affairs of the state. He forgave them and joined the system. No need to say why he became an icon in ancient, medieval and modern China and the world. Quality life is possible only when there is quality in the leaders. And, only education can guarantee quality in all spheres of life. In Nepal, we seem to have lost it for a long time and the pain is – it has never been found.