“When Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayeeji was about to enter as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate for a full five-year term, I wrote to him asking whether all his prospective ministers were in a ‘mission-ready’ state, or do they need training in the nuances of governance? If not so, I requested him to send them for a short-term intensive course with IIM or any other leading institute and make them undergo such an orientation. For this, I received a ‘thank-you’ letter from Sri Vajpayee’s secretary, but beyond that nothing else seemed to have taken place. Much later, I heard that a section of ministers was sent to a leading institute for a few weeks of training in governance,” reflects Hariharan Subramanian who spearheads an initiative called the Indian Institute of Governance (IIG).
The seed was sown way back in the early 1980s when Hariharan Subramanian sensed that the educational system in India was not moulding citizens to take on larger responsibilities in the shaping of the nation. He states, “We were educating them for the sake of ensuring that they pass out of high school, do their graduation and post-graduation, and take up the first available job to secure themselves for life; a life of bringing up a family, looking after the elders and carrying forth a responsibility to safeguard upcoming generations of their own family. Hence, a child grows into an adult and ages, and by and large, lives a stereotypical, methodical life without his education having given him a basis for effective contribution to society and the country. Now, do you wonder about the present calibre of most of our politicians and government administrators?”
Hariharan researched and found out that the education provided by several schools, colleges and professional institutes merely equipped a person to be qualified to take on a job or become an entrepreneur in any chosen field, be it engineering, manufacturing, retailing or similar activities. “Public governance, which includes taking on the mantle of becoming a politician or people’s elected representative in any locality, calls for expertise in the field of management and administrative capabilities, on a large scale and a wider range of activities. You are not just managing manpower but spearheading several social initiatives, infrastructural developments, and coordinating with multiple governmental and private sector departments and officials. This calls for exceptional skills, which are not by-products of merely being an elected political leader or a bureaucrat. An elected representative may have a support system of qualified technocrats and managers, but he should have the wherewithal to identify any lacuna in decision-making. This comes from being knowledgeable and environment-savvy. Educational institutions do not teach how to become a good political leader or a local administrator. Largely, money power and popularity in a locality lead to the election of a leader in a neighbourhood. Translating opportunity into benefit of the people as well as doing justice to one’s political party or governmental agency, depends on how qualified a person is in good governance,” highlights Hariharan.
Years ago, during his tenure as the Principal of Jaigopal Garodia Vivekananda Vidyalaya, Anna Nagar, Chennai, years ago, Hariharan redrew the system of imparting education by implementing activity-based studies that encouraged creative thinking. “I found that students applied their mind to problem-solving when given practical situations. Rather than being text-book dependent, real-life situations and choices of solutions based on applying common sense and practicality, produced better results,” says Hariharan.
Much later in life, Hariharan watched the evolution of politicians and administrators in the governments and realised that many decisions taken by the powers that be were mostly knee-jerk. “We tend to bolt the door after the horse has left the stable. Most of the time, our administrators are fire-fighting and deflecting criticisms from every quarter. That’s because proper plans were not put in place taking into consideration the anticipated end results. Ours was a system of doing things by the need of the hour or minute. That’s when I realisedthat the fault was not in the system, but in the education itself. By and large, we don’t have educated or trained politicians in the art of governance or administrative techniques. They are elected representatives who got there by hook or by crookor through sheer power. While they may have a so-called ‘secretariat’ of IAS or ICS officers, they are often compelled to follow the political will. So, I sensed that it must be the politician who should first be educated and trained in the art of good governance,” says Hariharan.
He got together a group of like-minded thinkers in the field of good governance and set about identifying areas where a qualified graduate or post-graduate could imbibe specialised education and practical/theoretical learning in the field of public service and administrative management. Eminent personalities like social thinker and columnist B. S. Raghavan, founder and Dean of Great Lakes Institute Dr. Bala Balachandran, managing director and CEO of Manipal Global Education Services S. Vaidheeswaran, founder-director of Symbiosis Pune Prof M S Pillai, former CEC T. S. Krishnamurthy and others joined hands with Hariharan to offer their expertise and wisdom for the formation of an idealcurriculum for IIG.
“Our foremost duty towards the nation and the world is to create the Next-Gen leadership who will think and act in unison towards the common good. If we do not create the right kind of leaders for the future, the world will soon be devoid of any future, worth rejoicing,” says Hariharan.
Thus, came about the formation of Indian Institute of Governance, an academia in the domain of Governance And Leadership (GOAL), to train and develop visionary leaders for India and the world. “Our vision isto create a pathway for our men and women to go up and steer the states and country from the top. To become the very hub and spokes of Indian governance, instead of being just the rim and wheels,” points out Hariharan.
“Itis very similar to the Hindu deity Lord Murugan - having six different faces, carrying 12 different tools/skills each related to that face, or a modern CNC machine turret carrying multiple tools for multiple operations. A leader has to be competent in all the aspects of leadership and needs to be a great visionary all the time,” says Hariharan.
Hariharan envisages that, in the future, political parties and their leadership can draw upon the candidates from IIG to spearhead their electoral campaigns and head several crucial departments for the benefit of the state or nation. “Thereafter, all the practical experiences of each of these individuals will be documented and used as further study material for future students. The entire work of every Leader, his thought process, group findings, and presentations will be available in the IIG Portal to which every alumnus will have a life time access for interaction and learning. This will be such a great knowledge bank that, over a period of time, the entire political and administrative leadership of this country will comprise of qualified people in the art of good governance,” forecasts Hariharan.
Excerpts from an interview
What role will IIG play?
IIG will be the knowledge hub for Leadership and Governance run by an academic council consisting of the best minds in the country. A state and national level committee will beset up, under the supervision of a national governing body for executing the programmes. IIG with its global R&D and curriculum will be focusing and working continuously in shaping the methodologies, experiential learning, interaction with the thought andaction leaders, resource books, reference materials, visits, etc. guiding and detailing the pedagogy with a set of inputs and professors working under them. IIG, thus will not be spending its energy in raising huge structures but collaborate with existingInstitutes and deemed Universities of eminence to deliver the carefully designed courses.
What are these courses?
We are planning three types of courses to start with: An 18 month or 24 month programme of 9-12 Semesters that willbe called PG Diploma in Governance and Leadership. Three Semesters will be dedicated to experiential learning. A 36-48 months programme which will top up the above to give PG Masters in Governance and Leadership with 6 Semesters ofexperiential learning.
What are the prospects for candidates?
The Institution will be inviting all the leading parties - regional and national to visit the campus and hand pick the right candidates for the present and futureleadership of the party and start grooming them for party / national responsibilities.
Similarly, leading Corporates will be invited to hand pick the right candidate for their middle / upper levels. They will also be encouraged to start their own social enterprises / NGO’s and also emerge as consultants to various organisations.
Eventually every Alumni will be expected to serve the nation directly for a minimum of five to ten years to bring in enormous social changes.