Public leadership in politics is interesting because it has an impact on the people and the nation. There is a great variety in the regional leadership of India, which can be gleaned from the chief ministers who lead five states – Naveen Patnaik of Odisha, Captain Amarinder Singh of Punjab, Nitish Kumar of Bihar, Yogi Adityanath of Uttar Pradesh and Arvind Kejriwal from Delhi.
Depending on the political economy of a state, acceptable standards of leadership vary. Liberal think tanks focus on social justice, shared decision making, collaborative and transformational leadership models. Conservative think tanks rank on budget management, economic performance, policy execution, and profitable transactions.
During the Covid crisis, the parameters of crisis management, crisis communication, conflict and resource management, collaborative capacity, clarity of objectives and established procedures became benchmarks for impactful leadership.
India has been mired in caste-based politics since getting rid of British colonizers. There is also another trait that has been passed down through its long civilizational history – dynasty-based leadership. The caste and the dynasty had historical legitimacy. Years ago, an assortment of kings ruled over India.
The new form of democratic governance could have been reproduced for convenience or by default – political developments at the international level certainly played a role in perpetuating this system.
Even today, dynasties in politics are discussed at the national level but are not a problem at the international level.
The state of mind of voters
Post-election studies show a shift in the mindset of voters – local presence and local connections now count among caste groups. The five aforementioned regional leaders have situational awareness, a local connection and an identity overlap with the marginalized. In addition, these have a professional identity – whether it is the management of a large math by Yogi Adityanath, brief electrical engineering work from Nitish Kumar, IRS officer to Arvind Kejriwal, army references from Captain Amarinder Singh, or writer and designer credits to Naveen Patnaik.
Chief ministers are known for their straightforward personal profile – kurta pajamas, the saffron robe, government servant type clothing or the dress style of a retired army officer – very much in the tradition of Rajendra Prasad.
These dress codes seem to be a carry over from their previous jobs, and not some sort of symbolism.
Although each of these leaders have fought long political struggles, they have a knack for strategic thinking – a hallmark of successful middle management. Their team-oriented, bureaucratic-executed management is flexible and responsive to feedback, emphasizing trust and relativity.
With the coming polls in many areas, it will be interesting to watch what the voter is looking for – millennials and Gen Z seem attached to the nation, with 65% declaring their willingness to fight for the country in a poll on values ”. . National post-survey analyzes showed a reduction in the importance of caste in 2014, and the support of millennials and women as crucial in 2019.
Moving forward, the struggle appears to be between the influence of hard-hitting regional rulers – those who meet most modern management standards and blend into an Indian identity – and insecure rulers backed by the values of the old world.
On the global stage however, genuine and charismatic leaders who appear to have professional management styles seem to be a better bet for India’s economic and political future.
The author is a policy analyst, social science researcher, coach and author