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Celebrity businessmen and corporate salarymen in Bengaluru are rightly enraged by the dismal state of affairs plaguing the ambitious city.

Ajit Isaac, the venerable CMD of Quess Corp and model entrepreneur, has condemned government inaction during the recent violence in the city which threatened, as he puts it, ‘the right to livelihood’.

Azim Premji and other CEOs have criticized the government on various occasions for many reasons, and most of their barbs are fully justified.

Why aren’t many of these ambitious go-getters not doing much to change the status quo, other than occasional criticisms and part-time engagements with quasi-government forums & citizen bodies, both of which are neither fully effective nor efficient in bringing about visible and lasting changes? Bangalore’s corporate elite have been waging this vociferous battle against bad politics & governance for more than a decade and nothing much has changed on the ground. Yes, the city has gained more companies, jobs, buildings, & roads over the years, but the quality of life has worsened significantly.

We should admire the job-creating, wealth-creating and philanthropic activities of Ajit Isaac, Azim Premji and many other business folks in the city. But, have they taken the safer route? If they really want a change, why have they not jumped into the thick of things, which (in Indian context) means getting their hands & collars dirty in the world of politics?

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Of course, politics is not for everyone. Azim Premji has openly admitted he lacks the ‘insensitivity’ which he thinks a politician has to cultivate. Some socially sensitive CEOs are busy self-actualizing their lives and satisfied with limiting their contributions to some social, cultural & philanthropic causes. Some may even argue politics is not the only way to bring about big changes. We do have ex-CEOs who are full-time involved in social impact initiatives. And, of course, we have some ex-corporate men in politics, too few to make any impact.

Politics is a dirty business. But most businesses themselves are not immune to dirty politics. A successful CEO has to be a savvy politician within his organization to navigate myriad people, cultures, needs, ambitions etc. and yet achieve common goals which are good for the company, its employees, shareholders, & society.

Politics may not be the only way, but it perhaps is the most effective & efficient way. Effective in making the right changes. Efficient in making the changes right. Politics is perhaps faster in driving changes than CSR, philanthropy and other social impact initiatives. And what India needs now is both top-notch skill & good speed in getting things done. More than a billion people are waiting for the right CEO to get them out of this giant quicksand.

Who wants to vote for Narayana Murthy as the President of India, Azim Premji as the Prime Minister, and Ajit Isaac as CM of Karnataka?

I would.

Ajit Isaac on Cauvery row

Azim Premji on politics

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