India needs Ratan Tata as Prime Minister for 5 years

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Extraordinary times demand extraordinary action. That action can only happen with extraordinary leadership. India"s political leadership has failed us - time and again. We are facing crises on two fronts - terrorism and economic. More acts of terrorism will shutter India for global businesses. If India"s growth stutters, then will dampen aspirations for millions of Indians to rise above subsistence levels. Not only don"t we have an Obama, but we have multiple layers of the likes of George W. Bush. And that is not going to change irrespective of which party is in power. If India has to come out of this, we need a systemic change - and that can only come if it starts right at the top.

We do not have the luxury of creating a new political force in India - that will take a decade or more to happen. What we need is the equivalent of the NSG Commandos, who were called in when the realisation dawned that the Mumbai police with lathis and rifles could not take on a handful of terrorists armed with AK-47s, grenades and shielded by hostages. The NSG Commandos came, cleaned up the mess, and then handed it over back to the civilian authorities. That is what we need India"s new government led by Ratan Tata to do - and we cannot wait a decade for that.

There are three core issues why the democratic process in India is not good enough to respond to the situation that we face. First, the politicians - well, what can we say about them. We knew they were bad, but until now their (in)actions didn"t hurt or kill us. The current system needs a cleansing - not one party being replaced by another. Second, the bureaucracy and institutions built during the British times needs to be dismantled. The ones in power stay in power because of these institutions - the two feed on each other. This nexus needs to be broken. Third, we need a massive investment in education so that the ignorant among us don"t elect the incompetent back into power. Taken together, it is a chakravyuha that can never allow for good governance.

What we need is a Ratan Tata and his team of handpicked NSG Commandos to parachute in, fix the core of the problems, and then hand it back to civilians who by then would have the good sense to know what politicians need to be elected. Five years in power will give this team the ability to put in place policies, institutions and infrastructure which future governments will be able to build upon. This is the Change India needs.

There are five key areas that this Real Government should focus on:

* National Security: Make us feel safe again, and make our enemies fear us.
* Infrastructure: Use Indian and global capital to build the roads, ports, high-speed trains, power plants (solar, please) that we so badly need.
* Education: Just get government out of the way.
* Governing Institutions: Make them autonomous and accountable.
* Urbanisation: Stop being proud of India"s 600,000 villages and build 6,000 new cities.

Do this, and the rest will fall in place.

Now is not the time for incremental solutions. Now is the time for disruptive innovations. The way to make this happen is for the Congress and BJP to come together, put aside political aspirations for five years, and get Ratan Tata and a group of 300+ competent leaders into Parliament in the next elections. Rahul and Narendra (or for that matter Mayawati) can get their turn in 2014. By then, we will have an India that can be governed, an India we can be proud of, and an India the world truly respects.

I know this seems well nigh impossible. But so does what happened in the past week. India faces extraordinary challenges. Let us bring to the highest post of the country someone who is not overawed and has solutions. Let us be led by someone we look up to. We have given six decades to our politicians. Let them give half a decade to us - to one man who can make a difference.

Many decades ago, we united under one man to a New Dawn free of foreign powers. The time has come to unite again as one nation to purge ourself of the domestic powers that have ruled since then. We are lucky to have in Ratan Tata a leader today who has the stature, integrity and a lifetime of achievement. Let us hand the reins to him and create a New India together.


Published with permission from Rajesh Jain.

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