This may be the perfect time to talk about leadership. The world is at the crossroads. The global economy, bruised badly by a recession, is on an uncertain cusp. Is a recovery round the corner? Or is there more pain to come? The world’s most violent hot spots continue to be areas where war and terrorism stubbornly remain alive. Many other challenges abound. The impact of global warming and climate change and how this could affect all of us now and in the future never were as much of a concern as they are now.In short, this is the time to talk about leadership.
Closer home in the subcontinent, things aren’t very different from the global situation. Tensions between India and two of its neighbours are in a heightened state. Some of the disputes with Pakistan aren’t new. But relations between the nuclear rivals haven’t recovered after — and some would say, because of — the terrorist attacks in Mumbai last November. With China, it is somewhat different. The official line from both countries notwithstanding, tension between India and China has been ratcheting up, centred apparently on the five-decade-old border dispute. For this, too, one requires able leadership.
Things are better for India’s economy. The so-called post-recession green shoots are arguably greener and more robust in India than anywhere else in the world. Fortuitously, India remained relatively unscathed by the global economic slump. While growth rates have slowed down, they are still higher than most other comparable economies. But the task at hand is of steering the economy back to the high-growth zone.
There are other good things going for India -- for one, we have a stable political leadership, and, of course, a vibrant democracy. But in recent months, internal security risks in the form of growing extremist violence across several states pose a serious problem that requires urgent attention before they assume dangerous proportions. Damage control and bringing the State back in control of the whole of India need strong and level-headed leadership skills.
The theme for this year’s Hindustan Times Leadership Summit, ‘Vision 2020: Challenges for the Next Decade’ underlines the importance of leadership in these times when status quo is less of an option and choices have to be made. Some of the decisions made now will have immediate impact, while others will be show results only in the future. Ten years is a good time to measure the effects of decisions made. And it is these challenges that the eminent panel of speakers at this year's Hindustan Times Leadership Summit will deliberate on during the two-day event later this month.
This year's summit continues the tradition of highlighting the role of the individual and his or her leadership prowess. Change happens when change is sought and change is made to happen. Leaders need challenges to excel. But challenges can be met and overcome only by those who face them and take them on. Which is exactly what the eminent writers of the series we kick off today will engage in: how to lead India into the future.
Sanjoy Narayan is the Editor-in-chief.