Basic Problem with Modi Government

Modi’s one year assessments have given mixed verdict.  TOI-Ipsos survey shows Modi still remains the best bet. There have been however several issues which have shown adverse reactions from the masses including highly disparaging defeat of BJP in Delhi assembly polls and elsewhere. Foreign investments are not coming, the way it was expected. Indian industry is also keeping its fingers crossed. Common man is still paying bribes to get their rightful services from government departments or as speed money. Traffic police is still using tools to intimidate soft targets on the road or crushing them under their wheels. Big wigs are getting away from the punishments for their heinous crimes as ever. Even Modi government’s own ministers or ex ministers are having doubts if there is any difference between the previous UPA government and the one year old Modi government. Modi himself accepted many promises made during electioneering were just cliché or slogans as part of the election process.

Is there a basic problem with Indian people or Indian way of democracy? Do we not deserve to be a nation able to realize its true potential? Or are we expecting too much too soon from a single right minded person who is irritated by the barriers continuously raised by the opposition? Or are we a ridiculously large country, too big a ship to sail the waters at reasonable speed? It is an observed fact that no nation in the world has grown or become developed without proper introspection and preparation. The very first thing which successful nations did was to bring serious changes in their basic lifestyle, culture and way of thinking. For example, Singapore first taught its own citizens to maintain cleanliness around them to graduate into cleaning their minds free of corruption and graft. What followed was an automatic interest of the world investors who came voluntarily to invest there in spite of being a tiny nation devoid of any reasonable natural resources. Singapore did not go selling their country to the world the way India is attempting to soon.

No company in the world has sustained before looking at its own products and its quality before successfully selling these internationally. US, West Europe and Japan first created internal competition and provided right business environment for doing business within and then only they came to international platform. China started working on internal infrastructure and processes in the year 1979 and did it religiously for decades without any political opposition to its projects or land acquisition bills.

There are no short cuts. Home has to be cleaned first. Minds have to be trained of the family members before your more privileged neighbor takes a serious interest in your family. Modi, I guess is making this very basic mistake of selling an untrained, unclean, corrupt country to the world. He may be a good salesman but product is still not ready for international market. Very less time has been spent by Modi looking at its product or doing product development before marketing it. Perhaps that is the basic problem.  He has to sell an honest product with international features and international use. Otherwise it will be just foreign visits, trade shows and no orders. That is perhaps already happening. As an exporter Modi is visiting the world but ending up being a major importer.

World is very smart, well informed and connected today and know the value of a product. World has choices, options. World looks at brand value. And international brands can’t be built in a 5 year term. There is no point in harping on world investments and technology without preparations and without spending time at home. It is not going to work. It is akin to being over optimistic or at the most creating a feel good factor. There are certain basic principles of life which are universal laws. If we are a society full of injustice, corruption, lack of proper education, empty stomachs, religious intolerance, and world is not going to take interest. Even if it does for a short while it can’t be sustained. You can’t hide the anomalies. So what is needed at this hour is to look within and change the mindset. It is needed to actually clean India both physically and mentally. Only Modi could have done that when people were listening to him one year back. Alas time is fast running no one will listen to him beyond near future.

Salman Khan and High Power Distance

Salman Khan’s Case and its progress is a stark reminder to our society that we are a high ‘power distance’ culture and nothing seems to really have changed even after independence and even after our choice to be a democratic society of the western type immediately after we got freedom from Britishers. Britishers during their ‘Raj’ predominantly flourished on this very dimension of our culture where people in India tend to accept the unequal distribution of power and privileges among different members of the society.  At the time of independence our leaders had expected that the Indian society and the old culture as such will tend to move forward to a modern thinking and our power distance level should reduce. Alas it did not seem to have happened even after more 65 years of freedom and free thinking. Indeed we are a sticky society and need to learn important lessons from this superstar case.

However the important role of one person must not be forgotten in this high profile case who proudly is also the product of this very ‘culture’ India can not be proud of. Late Shri Ravindra Patil, Khan’s Bodyguard who did not change his statement till his last breadth and patriotically paid the price like many of our ‘freedom fighters during the independence struggle’. These are the seeds of hope (read unsung heroes) who have been consistently found in our this very culture since the ages we can remember and know about. It is remarkable and need further research how we have these very kinds of people who go against the natural behavior of our sticky society and tend to provide hope for a better cultural future of this country. Laudable is the role of our judiciary which has still done its job in right direction, till now, in spite of the pressures of the natural behavior of our high power distance culture where ‘might is right’.

Another dimension to our high power distance culture which needs investigation is ‘how human we are as a society’. And if we are indeed a humane society, does our behavior need a ‘status tag’ for the victim. It opens many other areas of investigation about world cultures. It may indicate that many of the world cultures may actually be very humane but their behavior and reaction would be different if the victim also happens to be a privileged member of the society. We need to introspect if we are also such a society which tends to become more humane to ‘mighty victims’. As a matter of fact, the very treatment being given to Salman Khan’s case due to which it has taken so abnormally long years and a few poor lives, opens a ‘Pandora Box’ to a new emerging series of ‘high power distance status driven cultures’ which may not be demonstrated and exemplified only by Indian society but also by few other world cultures.  Cross cultural managers now will have more issues to understand and deal with to manage diversity of the world cultures in future in the light of new emerging behaviors.

Finally it is to be seen if democratic ethos of Indian society has the power and steam to change the ways we think and treat all kinds of victims of human mistakes and inappropriate behavior in our so sticky society.