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Debate: 'Performance, Not Ideology, Should Decide Next PM'

Business Today debate on what parameters should decide next prime minister-

Debate: 'Performance, Not Ideology, Should Decide Next PM'



Akshay Goenka

"We need, not an inspiring orator, but an able administrator"

From 8% growth in 2010/11 to barely 5% in 2014, with inflation in sticky double digits, the rupee tumbling past 60 to the US dollar and foreign investment falling, India hasn't shown much capacity to sustain growth. We have ranked 134 for the last 30 years on the human development index and we are the fourth most-unsafe country in the world for women. Our health care lacks quality and outreach; literacy is low and malnutrition rampant.

In such a situation, we do not need an inspiring orator but an able administrator. History has presented us idealists and visionaries at the helm of affairs who showed us dreams but never helped us realise them. History also gave us administrators who took quick and strong decisions and saved us from the brink of collapse, as in 1991. Right now, we need someone who looks beyond state chauvinism and lobbying, and can deliver despite a coalition government.

We need a metric to assess our progress, and a leader who can leverage local successes on a national scale. We need someone who doesn't just give us spiel on empowerment and progress, but one who has actually demonstrated his ability to provide these. Our people have immense potential, and it would be a shame if our votes were wasted on a prime minister who cannot help us realise it. Let's not vote for the ideology we align with, but for leaders who display the performance we require and deserve.

IIM Bangalore




Shubham Agarwal

"Ideology is what you shall be judged against"

Performance metrics over ideological rhetoric would have been fine were we living in an ideal world. But think about 1939. In retrospect, would you judge Hitler on the basis of the impressive economic growth he delivered for 10 years or on his anti-Semitic ideology? If the only criteria were performance, the world would not have been in such an uproar over Russia's military occupation of Crimea.

Cold facts suggest that Russia offers a better future economically to the Russian majority population in Crimea. But ideology tells us: no. We cannot have more of 19th century-style bullying of smaller states by aggressive expansionists. The Crimea debate has relevance to the one going on in Indian politics right now. Good performance metrics can be due to a global boom, an unusually efficient bureaucracy, a nation's natural wealth or a hangover of good groundwork. It is extremely difficult to tie it specifically to the candidate in consideration.

Ideology, on the other hand, is how society defines you. It is your own; it is what you shall be judged against. Contemporary politics also sometimes ignores the role of the bureaucracy in nation building. After the ideas are finalised, it is our bureaucrats who do the unglamorous work of drafting and implemention. I know I would prefer a PM with good, solid ideas rather than someone who has projected an image of himself, which may or may not be replicable at the national level.


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