Nandan Nilekani is the best among India’s businessmen. But just because he has run a company well, it does not translate into core competence to do a government job well, more so when the job is in welfare.
India’s elite and the media will predictably welcome the move to induct people from the IT industry into government, and from that standpoint Prime Minister Manmohan Singh may score a big point with some of the urban intelligentsia.
Unfolding however is a far more dangerous trend, that of hard core free-marketers, who have made their fortunes from private enterprise, wriggling their way into government, and trying to influence policy. Their prescriptions are almost always built around privatization of vast swathes of the economy, of the education sector, of healthcare, and probably even the air we breathe.
It is the only language a businessman knows. It is also the most fashionable political ideology which many educated people thoughtlessly spout. But it is not an ideology that addresses the needs of the teeming poor. It is a self-serving ideology of the super class.
That the IT industry introduced stock options and high salaries does not reflect its social conscience, but again a high market demand for engineers which pushed up their salaries and perks.
Free market ideology cannot solve a country’s problems as the current economic crisis in the US and Europe has shown.
The country needs as leaders not business people, but people who know how the masses think and feel, and who are also accountable to those masses for those votes. Handpicked technocrats, particularly of the free market variety, will not do.
Like traditional aristocracies, the elite in the IT industry is trying to perpetuate their prominence beyond business, and beyond retirement, by selling the myth that IT professionals can bring a new and positive perspective to government.