The Bold Voice of J&K

Developing a global talent hub in India

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Vinayshil Gautam

For expectations, May 2014 was high water-mark. Rarely had one seen such high expectations by so many people who were so varied among themselves. This was good augury.
However, life has predictable cycles: High expectations, high impatience, low bandwidth and then the inevitable backlash. The national polity has not completed the cycle yet. Some structures seem to have changed but the preceding pattern seems to be continuing in parts.
There is a tacit statement on shortage of talent in India in certain areas. Consider the backgrounds of some of the persons inducted laterally into high-profile bureaucratic positions in the area of economics or national ayog. Their profile would fill with joy any diehard supporter of the Congress-led UPA. It is the same set of credentials and the same pattern of import of individuals who have achieved some amount of recognition abroad.
Perhaps, this is understandable. Perhaps this is an inherent part of the distinction between electioneering and governing.
The story rolls on. There were a set of people who had made it good during the UPA regime. They moved at the right time and swam with the stream. With their ability to watch the directions of the wind, they moved with the surging crowd. They made it rich with the times.
This too is understandable. After all, we live  in an era where it is possible to run with the hare and hunt with the hound. Eminence, people acquire today, through the ability, not only to articulate and write, but also to be available to take the call when opportunities arise. The skill to package oneself in the right manner with the right political cliché is invaluable. This too can be forgiven.
What, however, the times will demand are selections that carry conviction. There is a need to project Indian standards. IBM became IBM because there was a general acceptance of the fact that computers need to be IBM compatible. If India is to take its legitimate position in the comity of the nations, it must, at least set the pace in half a dozen areas, to begin with.
The UPA spent a lot of time talking about India leading in the education field or IT. After 10 years of rule, we could not identify two dozen educational institutions which could claim people were flocking to it for admissions and teaching positions, from all over the world.
The truth of the matter is that even in the IT area we had very limited place, other than in low-end jobs. The greatness of a country lies in exerting a pull factor, globally, for its intellectual leadership. Governmental policies and positioning must enable this. It is an unfortunate fact of life that even in small habits of daily chores there is much be-labouring the point, an overkill, and pointless monitoring.
Illustratively, a normal citizen is obliged to carry multiple identities for every distinct and not-so-distinct Government activity. Unique ID has become so unique that there is almost competitive uniqueness.
The Aadhar Card carries an identity of a series of number; it has no connectivity with the passport that in turns has no connectivity with the Pan number. All three serve the same purpose of identification. The person is the same, the address is the same but each unit issues its own numbers.
The story does not end here. To pay tax, one needs different identities. To serve on a company board, there is an identification number for the directors, and yet another identification number for directors for boards of mutual funds. The list of identities is almost as large as the number of departments. The wise teach themselves not to raise these issues and the successful practice the art of explaining them away.
On the balance, to be acceptable to the establishment one must appear compliant, unthinking and responsive. This needs to change. Essentially to appeal to the powerful, one must appear to be acceptable rather than having the ability to move things forward.  One hopes in the times to come some of this will change.

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