April 10, 2008demographicsIndialeadershippoliticsPublic Policy

Leadership by absence

L K Advani’s ultimate challenge

This is an archived blog post from The Acorn.

You don’t need to read L K Advani’s autobiography to know that he is the tallest leader in active politics today. You don’t even need to note the thickness and weight of the bestselling My Country, My Life to get that point. There is no doubt that he is a great leader.

But there is also no doubt that at eighty, he is too old to lead India into the twenty-first century.

It is not about Mr Advani’s mental and physical fitness. It’s about representation. The median age of India is around 25. By 2025, the median Indian will only be 30. At a time when technology, globalisation, social mobility and economic development are reducing the generation gap to a handful of years, Mr Advani could well be from another country.

All this is not to say that Mr Advani shouldn’t be the BJPs next prime ministerial candidate. He probably should, especially if that party thinks he could lead it back into power. Rather, it is about what he should do now, and if the BJP were to return to power, what he should do when he ascends to the prime-ministership. The single most important task for Mr Advani is also the hardest one in Indian politics: succession planning. For man who has dedicated his adult life for the nation, the ultimate challenge is to ensure that the nation has good, stable leadership after is no longer on the political stage. As both an ardent nationalist and an astute politician, Mr Advani should know that.

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