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The Leadership Sagacity
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Times have come for students studying Leadership to relish and be excited about the current scenario of leadership changes in major world economies. This is a great moment of speculation and skepticism surrounding the election of President Obama in US and the upcoming selection of Mr Xi Jingping as the President of People’s Republic of China. Along with this, the arrival of François Holland in France, Abe Shinjo in Japan, Lee Myung-bak in South Korea, Kim Jong Un in North Korea, Vladimir Putin in Russia etc have also marked important changes in the political scenarios of these countries which would ultimately affect the flow of international relations. India’s upcoming 2014 parliamentary elections are also highly debated. Apart from this, the regime changes in the Arab world have played a tremendously important role in changing the course of world affairs. Amongst all of these, the leadership change in China becomes one of the most interesting. The inevitable reason being that this event happens once in 10 years and the closed political structure of China does not disclose much about the reasons for selecting their Leader and the members of the autocratic Politburo Standing Committee. In such situations, there is room left open for the spectators to ponder and make as many interpretations as possible, to explain and infer the transformations happening in China. Mr Jingping has been selected as the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, through same formal procedure, as done with his predecessors, of appointing the ‘princelings’ or the protégées of the political giants of China. Mr Jingping belongs to a highly influential family and thus, his selection apparently gets justified. Since election of Chinese leaders is largely a matter of the communist party, with no popular opinion involved, or emphasis on high meritocracy, it’s hard to outline the impact of individual personality and achievements of the Leader. The bureaucracy and high communist control, which is devoid of any individual influence over the governance, makes the Chinese governance system more of a group driven, rather than a leader driven. The credit of the work done during the terms of different Chinese Presidents goes to their respective Politburo Standing Committee, which has the ultimate say in all the matters related to the state. In many cases, the President acts as a nominal or ceremonial head to the government. But, despite the inadequate existence of individualism in the Chinese political structure, the One Man Leadership and its consequences do matter. They are considered a substantial area of concern for the world community and discussed with great emphasis. Because every leader is different and unique just like his/her personality. And this fact translates into the politics played by the leader. Mr Hu Jintao was seen as wooden and rigid. While Mr Xi Jingping, brings the fresh air and flexibility to this rigidity. He is perceived as a down to earth, more liberal and soft spoken person. Critics say that he is easy to get along with, calm, relaxed but most importantly smart. He is seen to have played his cards smartly, by keeping a low profile, resulting into his selection as the President. Chinese Presidents generally are not charismatic and revolutionary orators, with some exceptions like Mao Zedong. Also, they do not reveal much about their vision for China, their policies for the future, details of their programmes etc. Thus, one of the few aspects left to judge for the international community is- interpreting the clout or the aura of their personalities; which in the case of Mr Xi Jingping looks pleasant. Not much is known about the plans of Mr Jingping to coordinate, China’s one fifth of humanity. Problems and Challenges in China are rife and its solutions are awaited earnestly. Though being the world’s second largest economy, China still cannot be categorized as a developed nation. Many regional provinces of China face high levels of poverty. There are severe problems related to sanitation, water supply and other rural amenities. It has one of the widest wealth gaps in the world. Such level of economic inequality is not seen in any of its competing developed nations. Its social spending is one of the lowest amongst the developed countries of the world. China is the biggest emitter of the greenhouse gases in the world, due to its heavy reliance on coal as its main energy source. This poses serious environmental challenges not only to China, but the entire world. People in china are one of the most tech savvy in the world. Due to this, use of smartphones, internet, blogging, and social networking has dramatically increased in China. This has led to an increase in the amount of social activism and aggravated protests in many parts of the country. In turn, this poses a threat to the communist roots of China, since Chinese youth are one of the most mobilised youth in the world. Chinese diaspora and Chinese students in foreign universities are currently the largest in the world. This has spread a wave of awareness amongst Chinese citizens about democracy and social rights, which are prevalent in other foreign countries. Thus, Mr Jingping is left with a daunting task of budding the economy along with balancing the above mentioned odds. Recently, the Chinese economy was seen to be a little shaky, due to the effects of the global recession. The government has the big challenge of reviving its economic growth. Experts say that this is possible if China decreases the state autonomy over the economic activities and shifts its focus from government led investment and high exports, to a consumer driven approach. The government would also require opening up the markets and state owned enterprises to the private players, and also encouraging the SMEs through various policies, as they are significant players in boosting the economic production and growth. Looking at the newly formed apex committee, where apart from Mr Jingping, the majority members are senior political leaders, there is a feeling that the Chinese leadership would continue to be conservative to a large extent. The positive aspect of this new arrangement is that, the members of the politburo have been reduced to 7 from 9, which creates hope for faster and smoother decision making process. Secondly, the senior members of this committee are expected to retire in5 years, while Mr Jingping and his other young colleagues, would stay for 10 years. This spreads a ray of optimism that the conservatism which exists, would apparently last for only another 5 years. Therefore, in this situation of high uncertainty and suspicion, which has been a peculiar characteristic of China, we are left with only suppositions and assumptions. Times when predictability, straightforwardness, transparency and liberalism would be a characteristic of the Chinese culture are very distant. Not even the current transition in the political system makes people hopeful of any such possibility. Jainisha Chavda is a student at the School of Liberal Studies, Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University Gujarat- India, Gandhinagar-382007, Gujarat-India. Email: chavdajainisha@gmail.com

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Tue, May 14, 2013 12:55 AM (about 94566 hours ago)
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