The much awaited initiative by the South Asian Business Association at the Harvard Business School to present the Indian leaders and their leadership values before the Harvard community got rolling with a talk by H.E. Digvijay Singh, the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, the largest state in India. Introduced by Srivatsa Krishna, HBS Class of 2003, as a shining example of public leadership in times of crisis and a potential Prime Ministerial candidate of India, Mr. Singh enthralled the audiences with his vision of leadership for a democratic India. The Indian Leadership Series is an endeavor started by Srivatsa Krishna and Aasheesh Mittal (Class of 2003) as a vehicle for showcasing some of the foremost Indian leaders from the public and private space at HBS, forge possible synergies from these relationships and give back something to India and to the School.
One of the very few Indian political figures to have visited the HBS campus, Mr. Singh was at ease in fielding some tough and uncomfortable questions on the lack of progress made by India in privatization of public utilities, tardy relief work for the victims of Bhopal gas tragedy involving Union Carbide of the United States and the delays in resettlement of farmers evicted by the construction of the controversial Narmada dam in India. Mr. Digvijay Singh stressed on the empowerment of the people as a solution for handling leadership in situations of crisis as more often than not the solutions come from below. He also highlighted the impact of a transparent and open leadership style in winning the trust of people and the stakeholders of an organization.
Mr. Singh also presented some of the interesting models of people participation in education and health care that have proven that the models of decentralization actually work. He explained how an effective leader could leverage the simple process of decentralization to engage the people at different levels to work towards common goals. Lamenting on the rise of religious fundamentalism in India, Mr. Singh emphasized the need of curbing it with a strong but even hand. Pointing to recent incidents of terrorism and communal violence in India and abroad, Mr. Singh emphasized the need for a compassionate and tolerant leadership in these times of crisis.
Mr. Singh also met Dean Clark and discussed the Chief Minister Fellowship program as a means to encourage students from outside the government or even outside the country to work on projects of social entrepreneurship especially in urban administration, Information Technology and land reforms etc. The inaugural talk of the series came to a poignant end with SABA presenting a souvenir to Mr. Singh.
Hopefully, the spirit of showcasing the “Indian Leadership” and their insights on leading in a tough economic and political climate shall gain momentum and engage the South Asian community in contributing something back to their own nations.
The other speakers expected in the series include S.M.Krishna, Chief Minister, Karnataka, M.Damodaran, Chairman, UTI, N.R.Narayanamurthy, Chairman, Infosys, B.Ramalinga Raju, Chairman, Satyam, Prannoy Roy, CEO, NDTV, Dr.Anji Reddy, Founder, Dr.Reddys Labs, Ratan Tata, Chairman, Tata Sons, B.V.Jagadeesh,Chairman, Netscaler, Ashok Soota, Chairman, CII, Jerry Rao, Chairman, mPhasis, and Nara Chandrababu Naidu, Chief Minister, Andhra Pradesh.