Opinion: Survival of the most adaptable
(Krishna Athal has received various leadership initiative awards from national and international bodies. Former chairman of the National Youth Council of Mauritius, he authored the ‘Ramrajya: An Enigmatic Leader’s Rise to Power’ book and is currently an executive member of MSM political party. He can be found on Twitter at @athalkrishna.)
Imagine a country that is so meticulously clean that its citizens roam the streets with a true sense of pride, visibly expressing their satisfaction in their nation’s ability to become and remain somewhere where they are able to walk without the chance of tripping on some rubbish along the way.
In a perfect world this may be possible both literally and figuratively but let’s take a look at the Mauritian gem in the middle of the Indian Ocean. A famous line recalls that “Change is as good as a holiday,” for those of course willing to take a plunge in the cycle of change and less for those determined to keep things exactly the same, no matter how many decades have passed since it was in its prime. Much like waste matter and litter, everything in a country goes through a stage of much needed cleaning. Today, we find ourselves on the precipice of a possible new government leadership model. I say possibly, because we can never discount the fact that politicians try to at least sound sincere enough to want to change, no matter whether they actually bite the proverbial bullet and make the changes they so eagerly try to win votes with or not.
We could in fact also say that a much needed cleaning in this sense – politically to be precise – is also long overdue, because let’s face it, things have changed and more often than not, people fail to keep up with that change no matter how adept they feel they are with the current generation and its material and technological demands.
The simple adage of out with the old, in with the new is a good start. Quite simply, our representatives that appear in parliament need to be suitably prepared to deal with and service modern voters instead of hanging so desperately onto models that likely worked in their prime, of yesteryear. This means, the current stock of experienced parliamentarians need to take, under their wing, a younger generation in order to pass the much needed baton when the time comes otherwise we are sadly facing a reality of an inexperienced, dispassionate generation of parliamentarians who are simply filling seats because the job needs to be done. Hardly a visionary outlook indeed!
The idea of change and a cleaning at national level requires just that, national cooperation. Look at India’s recent Swachh Bharat Campaign. A nationally-implemented clean up campaign to improve the appearances of streets and infrastructure around the country. Though, in this sense, I speak of a literal clean up campaign, something needs to be said for the way in which this campaign is being executed. It looks to everyone, from government employees to Narendra Modi himself, to play a part in making the country a cleaner one. It embraces the challenge and more importantly, the change needed to tackle the challenge.
Coming back to our political clean-up, it has to be said that the youth are failing to take up politically aligned positions because they are met with conflicts, and most of the time older public servants who want nothing more than to guard their position and future (however short that may in fact be). The youth are not interested in learning from their older counterparts because the current system and models show no interest and are, needless to say, not interesting.
Mauritian politicians require a mindset shift, if not upgrade. Times have changed from the 60’s and 70’s and even 80’s, and as such it is time for politicians to realise they need to adapt themselves to the environment instead of trying aimlessly to change the environment to suit their own agendas and mindsets. They are, in all fairness, up against tougher crowds who are now more than ever made up of Generation Y citizens who want things their way, and immediately. They are up against social media, which publicises everything and anything that a camera phone may happen to capture at inopportune times. Again, instead of fighting a system, learn how to work it to your advantage, and more importantly learn the benefit that mass media can do when it is on your side for a change. How do you think the world’s famous change players get to be where they are?
One more adage for the road, “You cannot teach an old dog new tricks.” Implied that the older generation will not be able to learn anything new, I disagree. It’s less about learning new tricks and more about adapting to an ever-changing environment. So there it is, the crux of our matter: adaptation. Because after all, the best survivors and leaders are the ones who successfully adapt to their environment, no matter how difficult or unfamiliar the terrain. Ultimately, that’s the culture I see today at the MSM party.