Arvind Kejriwal’s successful rise to leadership was due to his quick alignment of his values with the Indian Psyche. Is he losing sight of it now?

On the one hand when situations can create great leaders, situations can also pull down great leaders to the ground. Historians often gets too busy in the glorification of the winners and vilification of the losers at the end of a struggle. Some of the time the accolades, awards,and adjectives elevates heroes to be fathers and mothers of nations or ISM’s. This is the reason why a student of history often wonders what made these heroes different from the rest of all the men of their times. What made Gandhi a Mahatma? Why is Hitler such a villain? Why is one person’s hero another’s villain, an example being Tipu Sultan?

aap press conference Leadership and Kejriwal

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders Arvind Kejriwal and Yogendra Yadav address a press conference in New Delhi on Feb.26, 2014. (Photo: IANS)

Since the talk of the town is Kejriwal, I am using him to project my theories on the making and breaking of leaders. I will be discussing the leadership of Anna Hazare to reinstate the point of how situations make leaders to fly high in the sky and also bring them down to the ground.

Kejriwal has become a house hold name in India today, even my 10 year old son living in California recognizes him. The whole nation is closely following what he is saying and doing. Two years back not many people knew him at all. I am pretty sure that you will all agree with me that he is not the strongest, fastest, richest, most intelligent or most handsome person in India. Let us look at what makes this man different from the rest of the 1.27 billion Indians.

Systemic corruption was and is one of the most pressing issues faced by India to the extent that it is a day to day struggle to lead an honest life. A team of well-wishers mobilized that public mood into a movement called India Against Corruption. Even though Kejriwal was one of the founding members of the group, Anna Hazare became the figure head of the movement. This movement represented the frustration of the Indian psyche. What Anna Hazare was doing, was what everybody wanted to do in their hearts but didn’t have the courage or ability to do. Anna Hazare’s actions was aligned to the larger Indian Psyche and he did fly high in our minds.

aap victory rally Leadership and Kejriwal

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal with other AAP leaders during a victory rally at Jantar Mantar to celebrate the success of AAP in Delhi Assembly Polls in New Delhi on Dec.11, 2013. (Photo: IANS)

When the government did not heed to non-violent pleas of Anna or Kejriwal, the movement failed hopelessly. The Indian Psyche was challenged with a choice whether to continue the cycle of fasting & pleading or to catch the bull by it’s horn. The choices was put in front of millions Indians. Kejriwal and Anna picked different paths. Other team members made their own individual choices. Some followed the path of compromise, some chose to fight it out while yet others decided to wait it out. No one knew at that time where the Indian Psyche is headed for.

By now it is pretty clear that, Anna Hazare and his group who decided the path of compromise is no longer with the Indian Psyche. That was the end of the high flying period of Anna. Without being aligned to the Indian Psyche he is back on the ground as yet another good soul who had his time of glory.

However, Kejriwal caught the imagination of people. He started doing things that most Indians wanted to do but didn’t have courage or ability to do. He became adapted and aligned with the changing Indian Psyche. The seat of leadership offered by Indian Psyche, now vacated by Anna Hazare naturally went to Kejriwal. It is the person who aligns his thoughts, words and actions with the larger than life Psyche of the people who turns out to be the leader. No amount of make ups, pedigree, drama & speeches, promises, cajoling, advertisement, fear mongering or sectarianism can make a great leader.

Having said this, it is also a challenge to align one’s thoughts with this Indian Psyche because this is continuously evolving. One has to be on constant vigil to adapt and align with these changes. Kejriwal will cease to be the national leader as and when he stray away from the Indian Psyche. For example:

1. Giving special concession to people who took his side by not paying the electricity bills as a protest; was this a display of the self righteousness which was budding in? I am not sure whether this goes with the Indian Psyche which has a strong sense of justice.

2. Immediately after blaming his political opponents for taking charter flights paid for by corporations, he himself took “India Today’s” charter flight to attend a program that they had organized (even though technically there was nothing wrong in it). Does it go well with the Indian Psyche? Only time will tell.

3. Hosting Rs.20,000 per plate dinners for elite groups for fund raising. Isn’t this the seeds of cronyism? Just displaying the name of the donors by itself is no solution to the cancer of corruption that is growing in the nation.

All the above three instances are loudly justified by the excuses of transparency. Well, one has to really think through before making transparency as an excuse. The Indian Psyche is hoping that transparency will work as a tool to curb corruption. But instead using transparency as a tool to justify deviation from principles and value systems is a much graver danger than corruption itself.

I sincerely hope Kejriwal will take note of the grave danger hidden in the abuse of transparency as an excuse both to his leadership and for the nation. And I pray to all the AAP members to not make a habit of using transparency as an excuse for straying from principles. NEVER COMPROMISE ON VALUES, you cannot afford it now. The Indian Psyche as I see it would not be kind to this rot.

By Saiju Joseph

Also See:
Indians Are With Arvind Kejriwal- Reader’s Voice
arties-elections/” title=”Who Will Fare Well at the 2014 Polls?

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