Should the chief executive of a company have a free hand at what he does?
See, in life there's nothing like a free hand. I will explain.
A lot of people think that the CEO is the most powerful person, but he has more bosses that most people.
Every customer is a boss of the CEO. With a stroke of a pen, a customer can take away his business from the corporation. If a key employee perceives that the CEO has been unfair, with a stroke of a pen he will resign and go.
If a key investor perceives that the CEO is not doing the right thing to advance the interest of the corporation, with a stroke of a pen he will take away his investment.
So what power does the CEO have? The moral of the story simply is that as long as we follow the agreed protocol for behaviour and performance, we have a lot of freedom to exhibit our innovation, our resolve, our courage, our hard work, our honesty to achieve those goals. But the day we forget that we operate at the pleasure of all these people, then we will disappear. So authority and power always come concomitant with tremendous responsibility: the higher the perceptional power, greater the responsibility.
Shouldn't the CEO of the country have a freer hand. . .?
The issue is simply this. As long as the overall objectives of the country, the coalition partners and the party are fulfilled, the CEO -- the prime minister -- must have full freedom.
Absolutely, there is no doubt, I agree with you. But just like the CEO, the prime minister too has to fulfil that responsibility.
If you were the prime minister, what would you do differently to boost the economy...?
That is a very hypothetical. I must say that Dr Manmohan Singh has done a good job under the circumstances, given all the constraints under which he has operated. He has been very sincere, committed and I have tremendous appreciation for him for whatever he has done.
A lot of corporate bosses are in the fray this time. Do you think independents can make a difference?
Independents have a role to play in the sense that they bring a sense of responsibility on parties to field better quality candidates... because, by and large, these independents have to win on their individual merit.
They have no party strength, support, money power, et cetera. So the good thing about independents is that they will invariably force parties to field good candidates. That is the contribution of independents, and I think we definitely need some.
What do you think about the growing intolerance in India currently? For example, Kandhamal, Mangalore...?
I think we need secularism, and why is secularism so important for India at this time?
When you are on an accelerated growth path, you have to energise the whole country, unify the whole country. You need the efforts of everybody, belonging to every caste, every class. You cannot afford to discriminate against any particular group of individuals, and that is why I believe secularism is important.
Secularism is not about forgetting who you are; secularism is about saying I will respect you for what you are and that we will take all decisions without considering what religion you belong to. That is secularism.
Secularism is not about not saying I am a Hindu. I am a Hindu, I am proud to be a Hindu, I do my pooja everyday, but the relationship between me and my God is a personal affair at home and it is not something I bring out into the public and I will not use religion as the basis for any decision-making or any discussion.