Kaun Banega President? How about a bona fide crore-pati? I'm serious. N R Narayana Murthy is the right man for the country's top job. He has the time (after retiring from Infosys); the right profile (it may not be as photogenic as Amitabh Bachchan's) and has an even better left one (man of the masses and all that). His credentials can't be questioned. The rest of the world has heard of him and respects his contribution to India's economy. He is honest, self-made and courageous. Outspoken when he needs to articulate a position. Discreet when it comes to courting the media. He's sensible, progressive, and responsible while dealing with key issues.
His personality is nondescript. He could be anyone. His views on women are worth quoting: "There should be gender inclusive policies, adequate support systems and comprehensive maternity policies for women. There should be a technology infrastructure drive enabling women to work from home or through satellite offices, when needed, operating on flexible work schedules, especially during pre- and post-natal periods." When was the last time someone whose voice matters, spoke so eloquently on the subject? For that alone, he gets the vote of the women of this country.
Murthy may not be charismatic, but he sure is enigmatic. So far, one does not know his political affiliations, which makes his neutral stand a plus point. His appointment will meet with approval, regardless of party politics and partisan lobbying. We need a man who can inspire our youth. With India booming, and IT being the 'It factor' driving this boom, Murthy's stature as the undisputed godfather of the industry, will enhance the role played by the President in popular imagination. The present occupant of Rashtrapati Bhavan is a iconic figure adored by all. His replacement will have to be someone remarkable, but in a different way. Murthy fits the bill perfectly.
Bold and uncompromising, the man's clarity of thought is as impressive as his modesty. Does he have the all-important 'wow' factor? No, not if you compare him to someone voted 'The Star of the Millennium', by demented movie fans worldwide.
How does anybody compete with 'The Voice?' Can Murthy take on 'Sexy Sam' in a slug-test? You must be kidding. While the Big B has shrewdly bowed out much before the battle began, calling the proposition "absurd", someone smart had already planted the well-timed seed in people's minds by then.
The Murthys, as a couple, come as an attractive package deal. Sudha has independently carved out a niche for herself. She writes bestsellers and is open to acting. She has a naughty twinkle in her eyes, wears lovely silk saris and is a people person. Her husband can certainly learn a thing or two about the 'touchy feely' aspects of people management from her. Murthy's reticence is compensated by Sudha's friendly nature. Both emphasise their "simple living and high thinking" philosophy with a lifestyle that is in keeping with their stated lofty principles. A rarity.
So, don't be surprised if you're told Mr President cleans his own toilets if they ever make it to Rashtrapati Bhavan. Vi-siting heads of state may just catch the prezzie wielding a bro-om in the corridors of power, metaphorically and literally! There may be 'shock and awe' at his appointment. But rather that, than shame and horror. India's current positioning demands a figure at the helm of affairs, who is a vital part of the new Indian Dream. A person who turns his back on pomp and ceremony, puts his head down and gets on with the job. And when you get two for the price of one, that's an even better deal. And just in case Mr Murthy isn't interested, i for one will settle for Ms Murthy. It's not America alone that's gearing up for a woman in the White House — we in, India are ready, too. Go for it. Sudha. Hum sab saath hai.
The above article has been sourced from Shobhaa De's column in The Sunday Times dated 18.03.2007