Embracing the Legacy: Paving the Way for Ethical Leadership in India’s Future

Whispers of an Ordinary Journey

This chapter is an excerpt from the book Whispers of an Ordinary Journey written by Debasish Bhattacharyya.

Almost all top-level leaders emphasize their universal vision to guide society and the country towards greater heights, with the aim of improving living conditions for all. However, it is important to recognize that a robust and informed population forms the foundation of this vision. This necessitates placing health and education at the forefront of our priorities as cornerstones for the path ahead.

By prioritizing these crucial aspects, we can ensure that our society is equipped with the necessary knowledge, skills, and well-being to achieve sustainable progress and fulfil the aspirations of every individual.

Leadership sets the tone in society, and we, as social creatures, learn what is expected and acceptable from those we look up to. The behaviour of our leaders is infectious and cascades down throughout the establishments and across communities. While things like inflation is certainly a worrying issue, there is another form of inflation that is even more concerning in the socio-political landscape—“greedflation.” This refers to the pervasive increase in greed and self-interest within society.

To build a better future for our country, willingness to serve its people and vision both need to intertwine with ethics, and be guided by robust value frameworks. However, in our current global context, the richness of being human is increasingly under threat due to the pervasive influence of consumerist-materialist culture. This culture not only diminishes our understanding of human greatness but also erodes the very values we seek to uphold.

Political leaders often overlook the fact that their tenure in power is limited and will eventually come to an end. As time passes, societal dynamics shift, people’s demands evolve, and unforeseen events arise, sometimes defying even the most rational projections of the future. However, the strength of our systems lies in the graceful acceptance that power will, can, must, and should be relinquished when the time comes.

Throughout India’s history, there have been a few leaders who possessed the capacity and capability to lead with integrity, empathy, and a deep commitment to serving the people. However, the prevailing deteriorating political environment raises a crucial question: Is the decline in ethical standards and morality in Indian politics irreversible? The answer lies in a shift in perspective, although this is often a daunting task. It is imperative for all of us to engage in soul-searching and seek solutions to the problems we face.

It is undeniable and vital to acknowledge that lofty rhetoric and good intentions alone cannot bring about a prosperous and inclusive India. To achieve that goal, substantial structural changes are necessary.

Having said that, it is important to give credit where it is due. Our country is home to many politicians, both prominent and unsung, from various political parties whose stories stand as a testament to their unwavering determination, hard work, and genuine passion for serving the nation and its people.

It is imperative for political parties with a true dedication to the country to bring these individuals to the forefront in contemporary times, in order to challenge the perception that political parties have become mere products focused solely on winning votes.

Regrettably, except for a few top-rung political leaders known for their integrity across party lines, the majority of others and political parties have failed to prioritize and promote integrity and trustworthiness. However, while we must take their positions seriously, we should maintain faith in the enduring strength of Indian democracy, which predates their presence and will outlast them.

India is in need of more leaders who embody the qualities and values exemplified by individuals such as Lal Bahadur Shastri, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Manmohan Singh, Manik Sarkar,  Buddhadeb Bhattacharyya, A. K. Antony, Manohar Parrikar, and

Naveen Patnaik. While their moments of influence may fade with time, their legacies as icons of leadership and integrity will continue to inspire generations to come.

Taking inspiration from the quote ‘The best cure for the ills of democracy is more democracy,’ it can be firmly stated that a healthier and more equitable democracy leads to a better and more substantive democracy for society and the country. It is our genuine aspiration that our beloved country moves steadfastly in this direction, with a shared commitment to nurturing and advancing the principles of democracy for the betterment of all.

About the book “Whispers of an Ordinary Journey

In the journey of life, we all assume the role of drivers. “Whispers of an Ordinary Journey” is a book that encapsulates decades of practical experience, focusing on storytelling. It’s a part-memoir, part-biography, and part-collection of articles.

Hence, the primary goal of writing ‘Whispers of an Ordinary Journey’ is to generate awareness regarding India’s political and social landscape by weaving together stories of individuals and significant incidents through the art of storytelling. Developing an awareness of the society we live in is paramount in cultivating active citizenship and attaining socio-political consciousness. The current era necessitates that individuals actively seek to become informed citizens, challenging the prevailing status quo and promoting positive change. Now is the opportune moment to embrace openness, honesty and realism in our interactions with both ourselves and others. It is time to show up, not show off.

In a time when the distinction between right and wrong is becoming more indistinct, my perspectives grounded in middle-class culture and values have frequently been met with surprise and amusement. The contrast that exists between the public perception of India’s prominent figures and their actual functioning traits often intrigued me. Consequently, ‘Whispers of an Ordinary Journey’ is a heartfelt endeavour to capture the ordinary, bittersweet stories of life, offering a genuine portrayal of reality and providing a deeper understanding of experiences.

About the author

Debasish Bhattacharyya is a former General Manager, International Centre, Goa, And Deputy General Manager, India International Centre, New Delhi.

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