Learn from China: Elect a leader who can see beyond his term

Published: April 28, 2013
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The fact that China managed to come out on top at the 2008 games was based on an idea that was conceptualised several years in advance. PHOTO: REUTERS

It was in 2001 when Beijing was awarded the right to host the 2008 summer Olympics. This put into high gear a plan that has come to be known as Project 119. This idea, vision, principle – call it whatever you want – had a very simple premise: China should finish at the top of the gold medals table at the 2008 summer games.

A gap analysis was done to gauge exactly what needs to be done to reach this goal.

What followed was a meticulous plan that comprised talent hunts, training, and infrastructure development. The result, as we all know, was phenomenal. From having won 32 gold medals at the 2004 games, China topped the tables in 2008 with 51 gold medals and a total tally of 100 medals.

The fact that China managed to come out on top at the 2008 games was based on an idea that was conceptualised several years in advance.

This overarching vision was further refined and made implementable through the hard work and dedication of several sub-committees and steering teams for whom the beacon was realising the vision that was set out. And that is the thing about setting out a vision; you have to be in it for the long haul.

There are no short term quick gains and hence, the tangibility factor is missing, making it further difficult to popularise. Hence, it can only be set by those leaders who are not concerned about their immediate future, have a sense of greater purpose and have the interest of the nation in mind.

Unfortunately, our politics and leadership has perpetually been plagued with having a horizon that does not go beyond their term in power or at best, how to better their chances of getting re-elected.

Our problems are deep rooted and have no quick fix.

Real change and improvement can only be brought about by tough policy decisions, many of which will provide little or no immediate gains, which will take years to enact. Much to our detriment, the past regime, and the ones before it, has been so consumed by the present that all thought of long term policy making was banished. Cosmetic steps like the infamous Rental Power Plants (RPP) were taken to befool the naïve masses and creating the illusion that their problems are really being addressed while coffers were being filled elsewhere.

Having said this, my plea is simple.

We as a nation need to decide if we want to bring to the top, those who have the vision and policy framework to tackle the myriad of challenges that we face, or those who continue to corrode whatever is left of our feeble infrastructure.

For the upcoming elections, scrutinise your options based on a simple criterion: Can the party that you support look beyond the horizon of its term to take decisions that will bear fruit in 10-20 years? Or is it more likely to succumb to the usual shortsightedness?

Vote for the nation, not for the party!

Follow Basil on Twitter @basilbaqai

Basil Baqai

Basil Baqai

A marketing professional, Basil has a keen interest in the issues that we as a country face. He tweets @basilbaqai

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.