Ideatum March 2016

In a bid to create space for leadership dialogue in South Asia and to feature the heroes, achievers and leaders who exemplify the ideology of the magazine, The Leadership Review launched its leadership symposium series called Ideatum TLR Live on Tuesday, March 15. The first chapter of the series which initiated a dialogue on the theme ‘Everyday Heroism — Stories of Leadership in Action’ saw leaders from diverse work spheres sharing stories of their leadership crucibles. A print edition of the e-magazine TLR was also launched during the event in Mumbai.
Kiran Bedi, former IPS officer and social activist, Maj Gen G D Bakshi, national security expert, G R Khairnar, former deputy commissioner, BMC and Dr Radhakrishnan Pillai, author and professor, Mumbai University, were present for the event. Pooja Warier, co-founder and director, Unltd India and Sameer Desai, CEO, Seagull Branding and Advertising Services participated in the panel discussion moderated by Dr Sujaya Banerjee, founder, WLFA and L&OD Roundtable.
Rajeshwar Upadhyaya, Editor-in-chief, TLR, who explained the TLR philosophy in his welcome address said, “There is a slant in the overall narrative of the media with regard to leadership, and you generally hear or overhear a lot of stories about business leadership. Leadership is not just about the business leadership. The narrative is much larger. The scope outside the business is so humongous: in the government, in the policing service, in the administrative service and in all kinds of domains. It’s phenomenal.”
He added, “TLR is set up with that intention. It promises to tell you the stories that accommodate the social and psychological space for the whole region.”
Upadhyaya said that he doesn’t want to limit its scope only to India. “Dominance of India on the subcontinent is undeniable. Yet, there are stories from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan, which are absolutely heart-wrenching, and which we need to know. Their realities are not very different from our realities. I want to capture that reality in a way that makes for a meaningful narrative,” he said.
Bedi, who shared her views on why policing is the toughest job in the world, explained, “Policing is especially tough when you’re selective, but it’s very easy when you’re just. You don’t spare anyone. Policing has become tough today, because it’s becoming very selective.”
Bedi had earned a reputation of being an impartial police officer after a sub-inspector under her had towed then Prime Minister late Indira Gandhi’s car for illegal parking in 1982. She was a DCP, traffic then, and had stood up to the pressure from the seniors to transfer the sub-inspector who had only performed his duty.
“You show me the face, I’ll show you the rule (is what most people do). I said, no. Don’t show me the face. This is the rule, just go and do it. That’s why we challaned her car. Even the prime minister was not spared. When that’s what you tell people, it makes your life very easy. No one ever came back to me to plead and to ask for the cancellation of the challan. Because, they knew that a rule is a rule for me, and no one can escape it,” said Bedi, referring to the incident.
When asked about how she managed to carry out the transformation of Tihar Jail, she replied, “By leading the change myself. That leading of the change has to have no hidden agenda. It has to be transparent. Everybody could see and feel that it is for them. All the activities we were conducting were for their own benefit. They believed that she’s honestly doing her duty for us. I had to win their trust and it gave me credibility.”
Anna Hazare, who was to be the keynote speaker at the event, had sent a video message for the audience in which he talked about electoral reforms we need to pursue for an immaculate political leadership. He could not make it to the event due to health issues.
Through his video, he emphasised on the need to remove party emblems from the voting machines, which according to him, confuse illiterate and rural population devoid of political awareness. “Following our persuasion with the Election Commission, they’ve started to use a picture of the candidate on the electronic voting machines next to the party emblems. Now, we’re trying to discard the concept of the emblem altogether. It’s unconstitutional. We’re preparing ourselves for a national-level protest against it,” claimed Hazare.
Major General Bakshi talked about his leadership crucibles during 1971 Indo-Pak war and his strategies as a leader during the Kaksar battle and counter-insurgency operations at Kishtwar. Narrating the from-the-ground war stories, he said, “Our batch was called the ‘born to battle’ batch. We had taken the maximum number of casualties on the very first night of our service. There are so many of my comrades who have prosthetic hands or legs today. But they don’t ask for help.”
He added, “You try and help that (injured) boy. He’ll push you away. Because he has that pride. We may have suffered and paid a very heavy price, but I feel very proud to tell you that it was our generation which broke Pakistan in two.”
In an interview with Dr Banerjee, Khairnar, who had become the common man’s hero for his honesty and dutifulness, talked about how important it is to maintain your dignity, even in trying circumstances.
Khairnar has a reputation of never having used his position to earn kickbacks; although his family’s financial status was abysmal.
“In principle, I was always against indulging in corruption to provide for my family. It wasn’t just my sister, who was poor, but I could think of many like her in this country. How was I going to be able to utilise the corrupt money to better their situation? Plus, I had a limited income. I could help my parents with whatever little I could save from my salary. So, I thought, if I work honestly and try to make the system itself better, I can contribute towards annihilating poverty gradually,” said Khairnar.
During the event, Dr Pillai, author of the best-seller “Corporate Chanakya” shared his insights on ‘Can Chanakya really yank us out of this mess?’.
Pillai said, “Chanakya talks about how important it is for a leader to also be a learner. You don’t limit yourself with your domain knowledge. Today, in the (Mumbai) University, most of the successful courses have inter-disciplinary approach. In “Arthashastra”, there are 108 topics listed, which a king is supposed to learn. He doesn’t have to be an expert of all of the topics, but he needs to be aware.”
To give a voice to the leadership in start-ups, a panel discussion was also organised during the event with Pooja Warier, co-founder and director, Unltd India and Sameer Desai, CEO, Seagull Branding and Advertising Services as the panellists. The discussion was moderated by Dr Banerjee, who weaved a dialogue around the topic ‘Leadership – Questioning Old Paradigms, Charting New Territories’. Desai and Warier shared their experiences of starting from a scratch and leading their projects successfully.
The programme concluded with Sunita Bhuyan’s musical performance called Musical Yatra.