The indefatigable Dr.Abdul Kalam is back in the news – indulging in his favourite pastime of dreaming.
Mr. Kalam, who was in the city to declare open the new Chennai Press Club building on Tuesday, said journalists should build a database on the constituencies, providing information about per capita income, the status of water bodies, core competencies or resources, the current rates of infant and maternal mortality and the availability of safe drinking water. If this was prepared by May, it could become the basis for action to be taken by the newly elected Members of Parliament.
He also had an agenda, a list of demands that people could make for the Parliamentary elections in 2014. This included tripling the per capita income; increasing female literacy by 30 per cent and male literacy by 20 per cent; desilting all water bodies; reducing the IMR and MMR to less than 10 per 1000; and providing electricity connection to every home.
Now, the best thing about such long-term vision is that no one can find fault with it. You can couch it in such pious language and articulate them in motherhood statements such as – “health care for all”, “electricity for all”, drinking water for all”, “education for all, regardless of caste, colour, creed, blah, blah.” Who will dare question such dreams? Another good thing about long-term dreams is that there need to be no accountability. Who is going to remember them 15 years from now?
Another notable visionary is management guru, Dr C.K.Prahalad. He will come up with extraordinary dreams for India@75, India@100, India@200. And, the entire corporate world will be discussing them at every conceivable forum
But, ask these worthies to suggest something that we could do in the period from now to 6 months. And they will have absolutely no clue. What do we need to do to revive the economy again and put it back in the right orbit for growth? You will be met with silence, only deathly silence.
Do I hear someone remind me that we can’t be fixated about the immediate; we need someone to nudge us to take a long-range view as well? And that dreamers and visionaries are as vital as doers and go-getters?
My reply is: Do you want to be like Calvin dreaming of a trillion billion dollars or like Hobbes, wishing for a sandwich and getting it soon after?