Shrunken icons

M G Warrier                              

September 21, 2018
Icon worship
This refers to Venky Vembu’s piece “Shrunken icons” (HBL, Views Room, September 21). The world over today, dependence on individual leadership is getting more and more promoted, reminiscent of the earlier centuries when kings and dictators decided the fates of populations in their respective geographies.
Icon or celebrity status for talented individuals who have made a mark in their field of expertise does not affect society adversely. But the ‘wild’ growth of such individuals, preventing succession plans or creating an aura around them which camouflages their real identity can become a social problem. The syndrome of ‘active’ leaders and ‘idle’ followers can do more harm than good in any field.
Dependence on a single leader for winning elections, focus on a single artist for the success of a movie, selling the products of a company only using the ‘brand name’ and leaving the fate of a country to the whims of a single individual once elected are all highly risky for the society in the long run. In the process we create equivalents of godmen in various professional fields. Some grassroots level democratic process has to emerge to support natural leadership growth in all fields.
The aim here is not to undervalue the iconic status of Dalai Lama or Martin Luther King or Mahatma Gandhi or Muhammad Yunus or Kalam or Sreedharan in their own fields. The purpose is to flag the need for cadre development in every profession.

M G Warrier, Mumbai


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