NORTHAMPTON: The recent resignation of Raghuram Rajan, a celebrated academic who served as India’s central bank governor, has left economists, global business leaders and the general public widely dismayed.
Dr Rajan was seen as a beacon of change for the largest democracy in the world. The announcement left stock and currency markets in India jittery with the situation popularly referred to as ‘Rexit’ being influenced by the UK referendum ‘Brexit’.
Amongst the many achievements during his time is halving of inflation, and most importantly providing visionary leadership to Reserve Bank of India (RBI) rendering institutional strength to the organisation.
Visionary leadership need of the hour
Most analysts studying the malaise of the Pakistani society are of the view that there is a complete dearth of good leadership in the country. Although visionary leaders have a host of important qualities that makes businesses, corporations and governments successful, I would like to focus on three crucial attributes – openness, persistence and conviction.
Visionary leaders are open to new ideas and information. They are aware that each new piece of information would help achieve breakthroughs in solving problems and looking at things from a new perspective. Applying this to Pakistan, most leaders of public sector organisations in the country remain behind closed doors with little or no interaction with employees.
Secondly, visionary leaders are also persistent at achieving the goals they have envisioned for the institution. They clearly define where they want to see the organisation in the future and formulate steps to accomplish it.
Like modern central banks around the globe, RBI implemented an inflation targeting regime and has already witnessed its results on consumer prices in India. Although falling global oil prices have contributed to the reduction in inflationary pressures, Dr Rajan must be given credit for his persistence to achieve this goal and institutionalising the monetary policy making process in India.
In the case of Pakistan, Dr Ishrat Husain, ex-governor of the State Bank of Pakistan, laid out his strategic vision for the organisation upon joining and measured its successes based on it. It is no surprise that the institution was reformed under his leadership.
Lastly, visionary leadership does not only require the intellectual ability to lead the organisation but also the strength of will and conviction to achieve the long term goals one has committed to. Certain goals are very hard to achieve but need an extraordinary conviction to implement them. Having a strong conviction also involves challenging the status quo which can be exceptionally challenging in developing countries like Pakistan. There are countless examples in Pakistan of people who have faced the wrath of higher management in challenging them.
The way forward
Pakistan desperately needs intellectually capable and committed individuals who are determined to achieve object oriented results. Currently, many such plans exist on paper but actual implementation is poor. This was also recently reiterated by Dr Kaiser Bengali who said that Sindh needs intellectually honest and committed leaders who are driven to bring positive change economically and socially. It is only with visionary leaders that we can expect to drive results that can put Pakistan on the path of progress and prosperity.
The writer is an economist and ex-central banker
Published in The Express Tribune, June 27th, 2016.