The story is the same everywhere. When we get in to an office, we make the right noises, adapt to the working environment, grow in the organisation, learn its ways and begin to contribute to its functioning. Years go by, and we have aged in the organisation and have begun to go up the ladder to reach the top, contributing effectively to its development. Time goes by. Newer generations join. They are smart and efficient and soon take over the organisation with their smarter and more tech-savvy ways. Our own understanding of the business is getting outdated. Out of regard for our earlier contributions, no one will tell us so. The newer dispensation is indulgent and tolerant. However, we have not got the message. The message is that times have passed us by. Has this message gotten to us? May be not. But the writing is on the wall. How is it that we have not read it? Probably because we have begun to believe that the thin dividing line between us and the institution had become blurred. We have begun to believe that we are the institution. Remember,“Indira is India and India is Indira.” That syndrome has taken over.
The story raging in the media these days is of one of our most successful tech companies which was floated by technology professionals and not any big corporate house. The days of the original promoters are over. A newer generation of equally efficient, smart and ethically inclined professionals has taken over. They were chosen by us as they were the best. Maybe they run the company in a manner which is not exactly as we ran it. But when they are at the helm of affairs, we need to give them space, freedom and autonomy. Can I continue to believe that I am still the best and most suited? Who else thinks so? Only a handful around me. I have not seen the writing on the wall, and now I am poised to destroy the very institution that I created, nurtured and developed over three decades.
When is enough, enough?
When do I decide to call it a day and lay off?
Most of us show signs of never getting the message. The malady is age-old. In his famous statement in Parliament, Rajiv Gandhi had, alluding to such perennial hangers on, called them ‘limpets’. He had made everyone scurry to the dictionary to look up the word. Now limpets abound. They are everywhere—in politics, corporate entities, sports bodies and finally in family-run institutions, too.
The apex court has declared that cricket administrators must pass on the baton after they have done nine years of ‘cricket administration’ in the state and nine years at the national level. No! They do not get the message. One gentleman has been at the helm of affairs of a state association for 40 years and is not ready to pass on the mantle! They are indispensable and irreplaceable. But who said so? Only they themselves and the voters that they have captured. No one can muster revenues as well as they can. No matter that the world thinks that they have outlived their utility and are now only set to destroy the value that they created. Alas democracy, thy name is besmirched. Is this the noble principle that you define?
How do we save democracy from such ‘never-say-enough’ do-gooders?
It is ultimately left to the Supreme Court to intervene and tear them away, squealing and bawling, from the institution which they would rather see the demise of, once they are forcibly removed from. They will try every ploy in the system. Caution will be thrown to the winds. The thought and belief—of which they are the only believers—is that, without them the institution will perish. How does one disillusion them from this mind-set? That is the million dollar question.
Former comptroller and auditor general, Rai is head of the Supreme Court-appointed BCCI’s Committee of Administrators.