Mr. Prashant Bhushan visited
School Of Inspired Leadership to deliver a session
on "Challenges of Current Times"

Gurgaon, February 08, 2013: School of Inspired Leadership, a b-school with a difference hosted leadership series at the campus and invited Mr. Prashant Bhushan to deliver a guest lecture to the students. Mr. Prashant Bhushan expressed that it was a privilege to be invited to the School Of Inspired Leadership where the objective of education was not to facilitate a lucrative career but to improve society.

The Prime Minister of India, recently stated that India has achieved a GDP of 8% and would soon become an economic superpower. This, according to Mr. Bhushan, may very well be true but at the same time it should not be forgotten that India's rank on the Human Development Index had been continuously sliding. About 49% of Indian children are malnourished. He stated other startling facts: in the last fifteen years, 2,50,000 farmers had committed suicide. This does not happen even in Africa. India has also declined from the rank 74 to 94 in the corruption perception index. The fact that India is seeing great GDP growth is not a matter of undiluted joy in that outcomes are not all favourable. Indeed,  it may be possible to argue that the rate of increase in GDP is inversely proportional to quality of life of the "aam aadmi."

The nation was promised a decrease in corruption with the introduction of Privatisation; however, the reality was quite the contrary.
Between 1991 to today, corruption has increased hundred fold. Every other day, a new scam is unearthed. In his recent book "Price of Inequality", the economist Joseph E. Stiglitz, has discussed how privatisation leads to a quantum jump in corruption. When the government transfers huge capital resources to private hands enormous incentives for corruption are created. By paying a small bribe, private parties may, for example,  get access to resources such as land, coal and spectrum, worth lakhs of crores. This is what converted Russia from a super-power to a banana republic in a span of ten years.

Mr. Bhushan said that he has studied Dr. Manmohan Singh's Ph.D dissertation on "India's export performance 1951- 1960"and according to it, the performance had not been very impressive and the export of our mineral resources had not increased. This might be the reason for privatisation of mining during Mr. Singh's tenure as the finance minister.

The consequences of privatisation were also discussed by Mr. Bhushan. The private sector wants to get hold of mineral resources as quickly as it can; it then wants to sell them and earn money. When an activity such as mining is privatised, people living on land are displaced. These people, who are mostly "aadhiwasis" don't live a life full of modern amenities but are content to eke out an existence from mother earth. When these people are displaced, they either starve to death or are driven to Maoism. In the last twenty years about ten thousand tribal people have joined the Maoists. The Prime Minister calls them the biggest security threat; what he doesn't realise is the root cause of this problem.

From an environmental point of view, large-scale mining has a devastating impact on forests, water and air. When these resources deplete, they are never subtracted from the GDP. Such activity   would lead to inter-generational inequity.

When a huge corporation takes over selling a single resource such as Reliance in case of oil and gas, a mafia is created. Mr. Bhushan said that Reliance Industries are the single largest security threat to India because everything in the government happens with their consent. Another example of this kind of mafia is the Bellari brothers. They created huge wealth for themselves through their mining activities and also wrestled control of the Karnataka government.

Mr. Bhushan argued that bodies such as the CBI, CBC and also the the CVC have failed to bring a change as they are controlled by people, who they are supposed to investigate. He gave the example of Mr.Chidambaram in the 2G scam. To control corruption, he feels that not only should thepolicies change but also, investigating agencies must be made completely independent of the government.

In Mr. Bhushan's experience all attempts to reduce the money and muscle power of politicians are frustrated. He quoted the example of the Jan Lokpal Bill. He feels that substantive action on Justice Verma's report on the rape case issue will not see the light of day. Laws will have to be changed extensively and police reforms implemented. He spoke from his heart when he told the students at SOIL that whenever any "aamaadmi" demands a reform, the representatives of the government arrogantly point out that they are the elected members of the country and have the full right to reject such demands. They win elections because they have money and muscle power.

Mr. Bhushan is of the view that even though campaigns and peoples' movements are important, ultimately to change the functioning of a democracy, the government has to be electorally challenged. Revolution can either be violent or electoral. Mr. Arvind Kejriwal and his friends are trying to achieve the latter.

By stating that India is on the brink of anarchy, Mr. Bhushan said the youth have the greatest stake in the future of India. They have the energy, capacity to innovate and thus effect the change they want to see. If we are to stop destruction, youth has to provide the necessary leadership. This is not only a great challenge but also a great opportunity.

About SOIL:

SOIL is a business school that aims to create the world's next generation of leaders and professionals in meeting evolving global challenges while working towards sustainability. The school is recognized as a vanguard of change in shaping the future of India through education. We build character, competence and enthusiasm, and focus on developing leaders who create and contribute to sustainable organizations of consequence. Co-created by 32 leading organizations in the form of an industry consortium, who partner with SOIL in: selection of students, curriculum design, mentorship, case study creation and student employment. SOIL helps its students to learn, lead and live by practicing ethics, mindfulness, diversity, compassion and sustainability.

Source: By E-mail (February 8, 2013)

Published on on February 8, 2013


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