Ravindra Shukla
Nandan Nilekani and his unique identity! Why he needs to learn from Bill Gates.
This article originally appeared in centreright.in. CRI content has now been subsumed in swarajyamag.com. The views expressed here are personal and do not necessarily reflect those of the editors of swarajyamag.com

I was very excited when Telugu Actor Chiranjeevi started his political party in the then state of Andhra Pradesh in 2009. The logic at that time was that people who had already earned money and fame will not be hungry for more and hence there was less chance of them becoming corrupt. Before Praja Rajyam, there were two other parties “Paritran” and “Bharat Punarnirmaan Dal” started by IITians. The entry of elite brains that were not afraid to take new challenges was a welcome sign.

Later on within a year – these parties were bogged down by internal fighting before they could make any impact at the state level let alone the national level.Chiranjeevi’s party ended up merging with the Congress and Chiranjeevi himself enjoyed a central minister position in UPA-2.

Who else do we have this time in 2014? Nandan Nilekani- IITian, IT czar and a self made billionaire. Arvind Kejriwal is a different story (you can read my piece on AAP).

On the surface the storyline looks pretty exciting – the entry of a self-made Billionaire, a genius ready to invest his skills and intellectual wealth for the nation. Indian electorate needs this kind of talent more than the corporate world.

But before we even discuss Nilekani, let us look back at Congress’s prized catch for PM in the recent past: Dr. Manmohan Singh, an economic genius, along with Montek Singh Ahulwalia during the PV Narasimha era. Congress did successfully encash his image in last two elections. This Prized catch was supposed to be an economic genius. But where is the Indian economy right now?

Manmohan Singh and Montek actually did an excellent job during PV Narasimha Rao’s time. Indian got into the centurion phenomenon, the internet revolution. People were being considered a real asset for the first time in Indian democratic history. People could contribute from any part of the world. A huge pool of talented resources was readily available to propel the nation’s economy and become the driving factor in a technology centric world. IT Outsourcing poured money into the economy and ignited other sectors of business as a natural consequence. The economy was on a roll. We were rapidly catching upto China and the new world. But then all that changed after 2009. God given opportunity went to waste and the rest as they say is history. Today to feed our poor, we redefine poverty levels (sad but true). India could have been developed country by 2020 – but we dropped the ball by outsourcing our intelligence to a few sanctimonious money spinners.

Let’s look at the China growth story. China sustained double digit growth for nearly 30 years and China is certainly not under coalition dharma. Is that the only queer reason we got double digit inflation and tanked to less than 5% GDP within 3-4 years? Some Harvard grads running our country presumed that people were eating more, that’s why there is inflation?

Now let us look at the work of Bill Gates. He did not have the greed to build the world’s largest building or live in the White House. He is roaming around Africa and Asia and trying to solve health and sanitation related issues. Backed by Warren Buffet who pledged 36 Billion USD of his own personal wealth, this power duo are heralding a social change that none of the world’s political or business leadership can even fathom.

Now you know what this is called? This is called a seminal change of heart when your intentions are beyond greed, fame and power. You create ripples in world, through your work by being effective. I am not asking Nandan Nilekani to compete with Gates or Buffett but it is just that I had better expectations from a person who knows much better than this. Join the Congress party at a time when it is considered the world’s most corrupt political entity!! This is abominable to say the least.

Bill Gates created the Microsoft Enterprise and its brand from scratch. Nandan came from a different background – although his contributions was limited to the IT services sector (we did not bring any revolution in IT industry services as a whole); not even a single product which can dominate the market. But if Nandan was really so smart, I am not sure – why INFY did not focus on pioneering research instead of earning their billions by becoming the world’s largest body shop.

Anyway, coming back to Nandan Nilekani and his service in the Government – first he made a hash job out of the UID project and now he endeavors to embark on a success tour of a disastrous project!!! The core objective of this project was to develop a unique identification so that the Government could issue a secure and centrally authorized identification to Indian citizens but it turned out to be exactly the opposite. 15 Billion Indian Rupees spent went to rot and it is now helping the same group it was supposed to stop (SIMI et.al).

Now, why I am so against Nandan Nilekani? There is no point talking about a person but look at what Congress is trying to cash in. They are trying to encash Nandan’s Image – an IITian, an IT czar and Suave Middle Class Success Story. AGAIN!!!

Isn’t this the same thing they tried with Manmohan Singh and Montek Ahulwalia in 2004 and 2009?

Funny part is that – within no time – Nandan is swinging around with skull caps and ranting the same old bogus story of secularism and inclusive growth. You would expect from a Billionaire IT star, programs that are innovative and path breaking but alas, the Congress has turned Nandan into Manmohan Singh 2.0!!

Well, Let Congress fool Nandan or Nandan allow himself to be fooled, but we need to make sure Congress does not fool us again by cashing Nandan’s name and the middle class success story. Pray and hope that the general public does not fall into another Mr. Clean trap in 2014.

Manmohan Singh has showed us clearly how a decent person could turn into nightmare puppet. Nandan is following the same footsteps hoping to become the Manmohan Singh for Rahul or Priyanka Gandhi.

But little do these corporate honchos understand that the Indian Government is no longer a company where someone like Nandan could become the CEO and the UPA Chairman or Chairperson runs the show from behind. It has now matured and graduated to a higher level.

Nandan can only blame himself for the mockery and ridicule he will face in the future.

If he can man up and show some originality (unlike his Infosys or UID days), his options are fast closing in around him. 2014 may not see a Nandan Nilekani (Member of Parliament) but the defeat should make him wiser for 2015 and beyond. He can contribute to the Indian Society in so many ways but being a Congress member is not one of the them. Not until the first family is around!!!