Friday, December 28, 2007

An Yen for Narendra Modi

Narendra Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party has emerged victorious in the Gujarat state legislature elections. Their commanding majority proves that large sections of the voting population still repose trust in Modi and his party.

The print and visual media which loses no opportunity to highlight the Gujarat riots of 2002 holds Modi as the villain of the piece. The secular parties, Courts, Election Commission, intellectuals , artists, all of them, for various reasons, joined the Modi hunt in the last six years.
That their efforts have not yielded the desired fruits is evident from this result. If the people of Gujarat want Modi and the BJP and do not buy stories of the Modi baiters, it is time for them to introspect why they and their campaign did not impact on people’s minds.

It is not my case to prove that the Gujart riots were lesser in degree when compared with many other riots. The responsibility of the government to maintain law and order and protect the lives of its citizens is paramount. The Gujarat government of the day was found wanting in this respect. But haven’t many governments in India been so? To hound Modi using a specific incident is now a trend but doesn’t it turn out to be counter-productive over the long run?

The anti-Modi campaign has been shrill. The media helped its leaders bask in the limelight. They received support from a wide cross-section of the elite of Indian society. But they failed to build an organization, however clumsy it may be, to carry their message across to the millions of homes. The Gujarat results show that in a democracy, whatever may be the clout and prestige of the media, the elite and non-elected institutions, without an organizational network, doom awaits you. And building an organization demands much toil away from the glare of publicity.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Suhas Gopinath and the Missing Indian Entrepreneur

Suhas Gopinath from India earned fame as a young entrepreneur founding Globals Inc. in California in 2000 at the age of 14. Today, at 21, he continues to lead the forward growth of his company. Suhas is celebrated by the media as the youngest entrepreneur and for success of Globals. He deserves his laurels.

But to me Suhas represents something more and something different. Suhas was born in a middle-class or upper middle-class family that accorded pride of place to formal academic attainments. Son of a defense scientist, Suhas got the education and training considered appropriate to the social environment of his family and the times. What signifies this environment is the high-value accorded to university degrees and employment in government or corporate. Entrepreneurship is treated with ridicule as reserved for those who either fail to make the grades or find a plush corporate job.

To become an entrepreneur in a culture that is markedly anti-entrepreneurial demands defiance, drive and daring. Suhas Gopinath has them and .his ideas on entrepreneurship are revealed in a recent interview. He admits that even today our youth have little freedom in career decision making which is heavily influenced by parents and social trends. Our youth, he laments, turn in to job seekers and never job creators. The stigma of financial gambling attached to entrepreneurship by an older generation still prevails and what is more surprising, Indian youth, otherwise proud to flaunt western influence in their music or dress or food shy away when it comes to inculcating an entrepreneurial attitude. They are happy to remain job seekers and never job creators.

India, a country of a billion people, needs many more entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs are the risk-takers, who innovate, who experiment with new processes, new products and new methods and make them work. In the modern capitalist world to which we belong, it is the entrepreneur who is the harbinger of change, much more than the wage-earner, the financier or the bureaucrat.

Suhas Gopinath – May his tribe incease!