It took the toil spanning over more than half century to make Gandhi and Nehru, the undisputed leaders of freedom struggle and builders of ‘modern India’.
It took a day to demolish the Babri Masjid and destroy the fabric of love, mutual respect and tolerance of a country as diverse in terms of religion, caste, color, ethnicity and geography as India. For every spectacular event to take shape, whether with consequent positive or negative aftermath, we need a leadership – the charismatic leadership.
The transformational theories of leadership emphasize that charismatic leaders are called upon to do great things. These may be either heroic or despotic indeed. Charismatic leadership is highly associated with solutions or becomes the solution itself. It is based on the leader’s passion, confidence and exceptional abilities to persuade and sway people. He / she derive their force of personality from superb communication skills and they use technology to disseminate their views and ideas far and wide. They acquire a cult like status or a nimbus of political spirituality. Charismatic leadership is based on its grip at both – the ‘organizational – oriented behavior’ and ‘people – oriented behavior.’
In the positive and controlled mode these charismatic leaders build the nations; they shape the better world and create history. In the negative mode, they destroy nations, societies, cultures and humanity. The common characteristic that makes them akin is their over-powering sense of self-importance, a strong desire to be at the centre of attention and contempt for the view-points that they do not agree with. Leaders’ behavior become exaggerated, they lose touch with realities and turn into a vehicle of personal gain.
Charismatic leadership could be prone to extreme narcissism that leads to promote highly self-serving and grandiose aims. The same abilities and virtues that had catapulted them to the top of pyramid tend to predispose them towards a variety of dysfunctional behaviors like excessive egoism and image phobia. Their hallmark tendency is to turn non-supporters as hostile out-groups and a demeaning propensity to transform supporters into sycophants. They stop listening. They dismiss the contravening information. The charismatic leaders create too much opposition and in the long run they all fail and lose power.
Situations develop when Democracy metamorphises into eventocracy. Every day, the public is made to watch the saturnalia of exaggerated tableau and senseless slogans. A touch of divinity also imbrues its hue in the ruling tapestry of nation. Facts do matter no more. Results are irrelevant. Retrospection becomes a word taboo in the new diction. Loyalties are regimented.
Free speech becomes the greatest causality. The real statesmen and founders of nations are painted villains and non-entities are pushed up to climb the pole. The media turns submissive and nation is caught off its guard. Anti-nationalism encompasses every sphere of difference and jail door, torture and death are ready to suffocate the reason. Brutal measures are applied to silence the peers of past. The caricature is made of any differing emerging point-of-view and SYCOPHANCY becomes the shibboleth – the part of policy.
That is time to wake up from the trance – the deadly slumber.
By Naim Naqvi