Leaders talked change on Day 1 of the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit on Friday. In the inaugural session, finance minister Arun Jaitley said his government’s demonetisation exercise will benefit the country in the long run. But Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav was not so optimistic.
Also in attendance at the event --- where leaders gathered to discuss the change India needs --- was defence minister Manohar Parrikar, who talked about “surgical strikes” across the Line of Control.
Megastar Amitabh Bachchan was candid. Sometimes taking a stand is difficult, he admitted.
Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal and his political rival and Congress leader, Capt Amarinder Singh. shared the stage at the high-profile event.
Here are the top quotes from Day 1:
Arun Jaitley, Finance minister:
“If you switch over from a particular way of life and conducting expenditure, there is disruption. But I do not see the disruption lasting long, maybe a quarter or so. But if you look at the next 12 or 15 months, the impact will be beneficial.”
“The volume of formal trade and business will grow in size... What was normal in India? You go and buy a property, you pay some amount in cash, some in cheque. You start a trade, wholesale or retail, there is so much in kaccha khaata and so much in pucca. Do developed economies behave like this?” he argued in defence of demonetisation.
Sadhguru, Spiritual thinker:
“We, as human beings, have acquired enormous capabilities in the past hundred years, we have changed the face of the planet…war, destruction, environmental degradation is all because of man’s ambition.”
“This means that our very confidence, our conquests are slowly turning against us. If our enemies were to destroy us, it is understandable, but it is our abilities and ambition that actually will,” added the 59-year-old mystic who is also a best-selling author.
Paul Krugman, Economist:
“…now you have people with little sympathy for elite consensus. The US is neither big enough nor emotionally inclined enough to be the benevolent hegemony anymore. There is almost a competition between US and Europe on who can go off the rails first. Now big developing countries like China and India will have to hold the system. No more free-riding on US hegemony.”
Akhilesh Yadav, Uttar Pradesh chief minister:
“PK (Congress poll strategist Prashant Kishor) met Netaji (SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav) and had a meeting with me as well. What I told him was that the SP would get a majority in the state assembly on its own, but would win more than 300 of the 404 assembly seats if the Congress came on board.”
Manohar Parrikar, Defence minister:
“The surgical strikes have introduced a degree of uncertainty... obviously, uncertainty itself creates decision-making bottlenecks. You will never know them.”
“Earlier, one thing was sure that India won’t cross (the Line of Control). Now there is one thing that’s missing. In strategy and such kind of issues, you need to put uncertainty in their minds. That has been achieved.”
Sukhbir Singh Badal, Deputy chief minister of Punjab, and Amarinder Singh, Punjab Congress chief:
Asked if there is a “secret alliance” between the two leaders, which was also suggested by Sukhbir Singh Badal touching Amarinder Singh’s feet when he walked in for the event, the Congress leader said: “...I don’t think it’s a fair question. Everybody has his own culture, we do have our own culture. I am elder to him and he pays his respect. And one takes it in that way not that he is doing it as deputy chief minister.”
In his reply, Sukhbir said, “I have always touched his feet. I always touch every elder’s feet. Even when he had put us behind bars and I met him, I touched his feet… So I’ve always done it actually that made me a leader too.”
Responding, Amarinder said, “...Don’t forget when he was behind bars...I got a message that he only drinks Diet Coke. So, I sent him Diet Coke.” Later on, replying to another question about one good quality in Sukhbir, he said, “Unlike his father, he (Sukhbir Badal) does what he says.” To which Sukhbir responded, “This is the one quality which we share.”
Masayoshi Son, SoftBank CEO and chairman:
“It is actually too sad to be too rich. The only thing I was thinking during those days, is how should I donate. Before I got the answer, the next year I lost 98% of the money… We survived and somehow I continue to run the company.”
But there is something else Son wants to be remembered as. “A crazy guy who put a bet on the future.”
Amitabh Bachchan, Actor:
“There are a lot of times when you shoot something and keep thinking about it. You would then call the director after the day’s shoot is done and request if certain portion can be re-shot.”
“Also, insecurities play a major role in our profession. They help you perform better.”