Sunday, July 21, 2013

Perpetual Loss and Perpetual Gain: A Positive Life Balancing Model

The other day when I was participating in certain birthday celebrations, happiness, bordering on liberation, was strikingly evident on the faces of all the participants. Clearly, people were celebrating their arrival into the world that day several years ago, notwithstanding the stresses and strains as well as trials and tribulations they may have experienced thus far in their lives. Whether it was a momentary celebration before they would return to a life of dreary routine or exciting challenge, as the case may be individually, is also hard to predict. It is also interesting that no one recognized that each one of them has grown one year older, and hopefully thus each one has also grown one year wiser. Quite apart from what the anniversaries signify as a reminder of graceful aging, there is need to evolve a model of life in terms of time and talent.

It is an inexorable fact of life that time is a factor of perpetual loss. Human beings have limited life-spans that are influenced by genetics and lifestyles. Corporations, on the other hand, have the ability to have an indefinite life, threatened only by discontinuities in environment and exacerbation of competition. Time is, therefore, a finite commodity both for people and corporations, which keeps ticking remorselessly. As time flies by, it also fortunately bestows a few gains on the individuals and corporations essentially as the former are genetically wired to learn and the latter are humanly designed to learn. The balance of life is thus one of balance of perpetual loss of time and a perpetual gain of time. This blog post discusses some underlying concepts and provides a potentially relevant construct that could help individuals, entities and societies.
Perpetual loss of time
Managing time is a subject of many prescriptions. From handbooks to productivity courses, there exist multiple tips and methodologies to optimize the use of time. The author in his blog “Strategy Musings” wrote a post titled “Space, Time and Effort Management (STEM): A Paradigm for Resource and Performance Optimization”, (, that outlined an integrated and holistic paradigm.  The key to following any tip, methodology or paradigm must be an awareness of the inexorable and unstoppable manner in which time ticks away. This recognition must be accompanied by a mature response that balances available time on a host of daily activities classified as essential (for example, quality sleep, preparation and exercise), value adding (for example, learning and working), desirable (for example, socialization) and individual (for example, personal hobbies). In contrast, being paranoid and miserly about time and adopting crash methodologies of conservation of time or frenetic pace of professional and personal life would be counterproductive.
The sense of loss tends to be set appropriately in a perspective of one’s goals in life. As we know, there are actors and musicians who accept movies, sports persons who sign on multiple tournaments and consultants who take on multiple assignments, all as if there would be no tomorrow. There are also actors, musicians, sports persons and consultants who are very selective in what they accept. While at one level that could reflect what each of them sees as their life’s monetization goals, more fundamentally the anxiety for monetization, or lack of it, reflects their perceptions on value of time. It is not for nothing that the adage of time is money has come about. That said, while loss of time makes no distinction between any individual, and is completely out of one’s control except to the extent of individual differences in utilization, individuals and corporations have a lot of leeway in ensuring that they access gains that offset the perpetual loss of time in an equally perpetual manner.
Perpetual gain of knowledge
With the loss of time, individuals and corporations can gain on knowledge. Wise people do not therefore rue over the unrelenting loss of time. Instead they see time as an investment that helps achieve gains in knowledge. However, there is an inadequate appreciation of what knowledge means and how knowledge can be continuously acquired. Many people hold that knowledge can be substituted or supplanted by experience, intuition and instinct. Such hypotheses are erroneous and are based on infirm foundations. Knowledge, holistically, is the understanding, information, skills and capabilities one gains through education or experience. Knowledge is continuously absorbed and stored in the brain and processed and expressed through the mind. Intuition, and to a large extent instinct too, is the inner knowledge that is bestowed on a person through a sharp definition of his or her sensory faculties and a differentiated ability to synthesize perceptions and knowledge.
Clearly, knowledge is the foundation of any gainful achievement in life. Even those who understand this hypothesis often have misconceptions as to how knowledge is acquired. The most common fallacy is that acquisition of knowledge plateaus after the collegiate education and early years of experience. This is based on an erroneous institutional philosophy of learning which does not leverage how human beings are (or can be) inherently wired to acquire knowledge. To be able to understand this, the five ways of acquiring knowledge need to be understood. These are: seeking-responding, awareness-understanding, learning-absorbing, experiencing-integrating, and observing-reinforcing. These five steps, unfortunately, are seen to be sequential or at best sporadically combined. This inadequate manner of acquiring knowledge limits the knowledge an individual can acquire relative to potential.
The knowledge loop
The primal way of generating and spreading knowledge is through seeking and responding. It is commonly assumed that this phase is best seen to be limited to the first baby months of a person. It is not so in reality. Even as one grows older, knowledge gets developed through the seek-respond mechanism. A more evolved level of knowledge development is through the awareness-understanding bridge. This is, again, akin to toddlers and children becoming aware of several matters of life, and understanding them through positive and negative outcomes. This, by no means, is only a child’s way of knowledge gaining. Even mature persons, need to gain awareness and understanding of new situations as they develop. Becoming aware of the new circumstances and developing an understanding helps build foundations of new knowledge even for knowledgeable persons.
Learning-absorbing is the more commonly appreciated method of knowledge acquisition, leading to formal degrees and certifications. Enormous emphasis is placed on this phase of knowledge acquisition as the degrees make a difference to the career entry. Society and organizations provide the ecosystems for people to experience and integrate. The same educational course taught in two countries would, even in these days of globalization, would be interpreted, absorbed and acted upon in two different ways in the two nations. More specifically, in an organizational context, knowledge acquired through learning is upgraded, adapted or honed through experience. And, each organization can develop a unique competence in this regard. Each of the above four steps of knowledge acquisition involve external inputs. The fifth step of knowledge acquisition, observing-reinforcing, is perhaps the only step of knowledge acquisition that is wholly individual driven. This requires a person to be keenly observant and have the willingness to draw the appropriate lessons from observations.
Knowledge, every moment-every way
Faced with perpetual loss of time, competent individuals must strive to enhance knowledge every moment and in every way. The five step knowledge loop discussed above provides a seamless methodology of continuous knowledge development, applicable for individuals as well as entities. The primal way of seeking-responding becomes relevant whenever an individual faces an uncertain ecosystem. Rather than be overawed, the individual must seek attention and demand response. The natural way of awareness-understanding requires a calm and analytical state of mind that absorbs verbal and non-verbal cues and understands the supporting notions. The formal manner of learning-absorbing is often seen as an activity for a formal degree. True knowledge acquisition occurs when the knowledge seeker and knowledge giver focus on “know-why” behind each nugget of knowledge. This approach prepares one to apply or customize the acquired knowledge to multiple industry situations.  
Experiencing-integrating is another aspect of continuous formal learning. While all societies and entities provide scope for experiential learning, certain organizations and societies provide for their members immersive experiences that stick to their minds with deep insights. Organizations which have formal systems of mentoring in organizations and societies which are blessed with model disseminators of knowledge (for example, media) provide beneficial knowledge arising out of day to day developments. Ultimately, it is for individuals and corporations to recognize the importance of observation and reinforcement. The observant individual reinforces knowledge from every activity he or she observes; whether the activity is performed by a superior, peer or subordinate, whether the activity pertains to his or her domain or someone else’s or if the activity is a corporate business activity or civil society activity. As an old saying goes, nothing is trivial in terms of the knowledge such seeming triviality can impart.
Knowledge corporations, societies
Observant corporations, in a similar manner, do not stay still in knowledge; they endeavor to be knowledge corporations. They seek attention and receive knowledge. They provide opportunities for individuals to reflect and develop understanding of people and processes. They emphasize induction of personnel with excellent knowledge credentials and also nurture a pioneering atmosphere of learning in an organization. They institutionalize a culture of generating knowledge through every activity of an organization. Most importantly, they sustain the spirit of inquisitiveness and curiosity in individuals. As an extension of such knowledge-driven mindset, corporations themselves continuously seek attention and responses in the wake of uncertainty, enhance awareness and understanding of emerging environment, learn to develop new products and processes, integrate experiences for greater knowledge and observe other corporations to reinforce their own competitive positions.
Knowledge societies existed from times immemorial. Tides of history swept away some knowledge societies, battered some, reconstructed some and created some others. All through the torments of history, it is amazing how knowledge survived and grew in the overall. Societies which have been both diligent and fortunate to preserve and develop knowledge have prospered or are on their way to prosperity. India needs to consider how the nation can recapture its ancient glory of being a knowledge society; a society which gave the world’s richest religion with multiple scriptures and epics that set forth principles of living relevant even today, a society which computed, without the aid of any computing devices, all the planetary movements that are accurate to the second even in the current days of atomic clock , a society that gave natural healing through Ayurveda and yoga which stay relevant in the face of strides in synthetic medicine, and a society which built cradles of knowledge such as Nalanda and Nagarjuna Sagar centuries ago. As India reinvents itself towards economic supremacy, it is not a race against time but it is the pace of knowledge creation that would determine India’s success.
Posted by Dr CB Rao on July 21, 2013       


Sunday, July 14, 2013

Charismatic Leadership: Energizing for Empowerment

Forbes has this week tweeted that charisma still matters in business no matter what the level of the leader’s intelligence, wisdom or constitution is. As we know, charisma is the powerful personal quality that some people have to attract and impress other people. With this hypothesis of Forbes, corporate and business leaders are drawn to the league of charisma which hitherto has been a sole preserve of successful movie actors and differentiated politicians. There is, of course, truth in the hypothesis. Not all successful leaders are charismatic but some successful leaders are, in addition, charismatic too.  There would be general consensus that leaders of India, Inc such as Ratan Tata and NR Narayana Murthy are not only effective leaders from a standard leadership criteria template but are, in addition, charismatic leaders as well. 

Charisma could occasionally be a family legacy but in most cases that does not, by itself, make for sustainable charisma. Mahatma Gandhi was a charismatic leader but his children did not become charismatic leaders. Indira Gandhi, as the daughter of charismatic Jawaharlal Nehru, commenced her political innings with some inherited charisma but quickly built her own unique charisma. Differentiated performance is a key aspect of developing charisma to the potential heights.  Charisma in one field can lead to success and additional charisma in other fields too. NT Rama Rao and MG Ramachandran were charismatic movie hero-actors of Telugu and Tamil cinema respectively, and leveraged their movie charisma to become the elected chief ministers of their respective states. This has not always been true either. Amitabh Bachchan, the charismatic Hindi movie hero, failed to make a success of his organization for a business venture.
Defining charisma
Charisma is not a skill that can be acquired or honed. It is an intrinsic aspect of one’s personality that is part genetic and part gets developed over the years.  Most persons as they become successful become respected and applauded but not necessarily charismatic. The global IT industry has had several successful CEOs but very few have been successful as Steve Jobs. Clearly, charisma is a special quality of select leaders that draws people to them. They are mesmerized by not only their performance but also their ability to connect themselves with the general population, be it that of an organization or the society itself. Charismatic leaders connect with the people on physical (performance) as well as emotional (oneness) plane. Mahatma Gandhi became the charismatic focal leader for the yearning of the Indian people for independence.  Indira Gandhi’s Garibi Hatao (Banish Poverty) slogan became a major performance credo that connected her to the poorer sections of the society.
What leads to charismatic leadership has not been researched conclusively. It is, however, clear that transactional leaders cannot be charismatic leaders. Transformational leaders, though not necessarily all, tend to become charismatic leaders. Charismatic leaders tend to be natural products of a context in which their capabilities and values resonate with the larger organization, developing a strong emotional and psychological bond between the leaders and their followers. Trust and credibility are the key pillars that reinforce charisma. Charismatic leaders are open to self-sacrifice, self-evaluation, self-correction and even self-atonement. They choose typically unique ways to go through these processes as undoubtedly Mahatma Gandhi did. As a result, charisma is not related to position or power. Charisma endures even if leaders do not seek power or even if they exit positions of power.
Organizational implications
Charismatic leadership is not essential to organizational success but charismatic leaders do make iconic firms. Infosys as the Indian IT bellwether under Narayana Murthy, Tata Group as India’s global conglomerate under Ratan Tata, Panasonic as the electronics pioneer under Matsushita, Microsoft as the software giant under Bill Gates, Bose as the pure audio synthesizer under Amar Bose, Apple as the iconic innovator under Steve Jobs and scores of such companies illustrate that fact. The alchemy between performance competencies and charismatic dimensions of a leader are contextual. Jamshedji Tata, the predecessor to Ratan Tata was a paternalistic leader who was also a charismatic leader in a regimented, socialistic phase of the Indian economy. Ratan Tata who succeeded him was less charismatic in comparison to JRD but had a distinct performance and growth orientation in a rapidly liberalizing Indian economy. Both had contributed enormously to the growth of the Tata group in a contextually appropriate fashion. Each built on charismatic aura over the years.
In the public domain, the negative aspects of unbridled charisma that were put to negative uses constitute certain dark chapters of history, with such leaders causing unprecedented human misery through world wars and other forms of strife. In a corporate context, charismatic leadership has its own pitfalls, especially in monopolistic, entrepreneurial or family companies. The sway held by charismatic leaders over their followers and internal as well as external stakeholders leads to stifling of debate and concentration of power. Charisma at times leads to perceptions of infallibility on the part of such leaders and their followers. Companies led negatively by charismatic leaders with all the attention on themselves eventually become vulnerable to more nimble and competitive firms led by leaders with more consensual decision-making. Truly charismatic leaders who keep a watch over themselves for continuous self-improvement can, however, build truly iconic firms.
Discovering charisma
While truly charismatic leaders could be few and far between, it pays for every competent individual to discover the charismatic components one is blessed with, and work on them. At a genetic level, these could be the physical personality and the mental intellect. However, as competencies develop, people tend to acquire certain unique attributes and competencies that could make them more charismatic than others. These could be differentiated value system, mesmerizing communication skill, focused execution ability, multi-faceted conceptual capability and so on. Leaders must utilize these unique attributes to connect with others and help their teams succeed in shared goals. As a leader’s canvas expands in line with his or her upward movement in the organization, the charisma also grows with the leader. Charisma does not mean or require rabble-rousing or awe-inspiring speeches, delivered with the full force and power of the leader; rather it involves listening to the multitudes with empathy and feeling the pulse of the organization and society for the leader to be able to respond with focus and empathy.
Fundamentally, people are attracted to leaders by promises and eventually leaders are judged by their people for their performance.  The balance between promise, performance and charisma tends to be contextual. Charismatic leadership works to different levels of effectiveness in different settings. Leaders on the shop floor and in the marketplace preferably need a charismatic personality to convey their messages with the required degree of impact and homogeneity. It is perhaps less relevant, even less appropriate, to rely on charisma when leading a competent peer group or intellectually driven subject matter experts. There are certain research findings that suggest that a group of extroverted subjects are, rather surprisingly, led better by an introverted leader, and vice versa. Such research also suggests that whether the groups are homogenous or heterogeneous, and whether they are extroverted or introverted, charisma works. This probably explains why entrepreneurial firms on rapid scale-up mode, troubled firms facing turnaround situations and conglomerates with several thousands of employees are drawn to charismatic leadership, especially.
Responsibility of charisma 
There is no doubt that a charismatic leader can be electrifying and energizing for the organization. Whether he or she would, in fact, be empowering or enslaving is the determinant of success of organizations under charismatic leaders. As with most leadership factors which act as strengths as well as weaknesses, charisma also acts both ways. Charismatic leaders need to constantly evaluate whether their charisma inspires others to greater creativity and productivity or just keeps them spellbound, looking for constant guidance and direction. An organization’s interests are better served when the hope and energy unleashed by a charismatic leader are channeled systemically and systematically by a companion leader towards creativity and productivity.  Political leaders have, for example, discovered the need painfully through experience. The spell cast on the electorate by the charismatic political leader needs to be converted into votes by a well-oiled election machine.
The charismatic leader has yet another responsibility; he or she needs to be equally charismatic when leading large gatherings, managing small teams or interacting individually. The elements of charisma may vary across the three settings but the core characteristic of leading based on the leader’s unique differentiators, listening with empathy and responding with assurance would remain the same. One can only think of Mahatma Gandhi again for his unflinching and unwavering charisma across widely varying situations, whether one of inspiring the great Indian masses  or debating within the Indian National Congress leadership team or negotiating with adversaries such as Winston Churchill or Jinnah. Charisma that is built on competencies and values, and reinforced by empathy and responsiveness tends to be invigorating and empowering. The journey of charismatic leaders is a continuous one of self-evaluation and self-actualization for the broader benefit of organizations and societies they represent and lead.
Posted by Dr CB Rao on July 14, 2013

Friday, July 5, 2013

Strategy for Indian Tourism: Need for a Paradigm Shift

The growth of a nation as an economic power is dependent on all sectors of the economy, including agriculture, industry and services. Amongst the services, tourism is an important sector that distributes domestic earnings, generates employment, gives fillip to traditional arts and crafts and connects India to the rest of the world. Despite the mystique and awe that surrounds India, tourism in India is still a minor economic sector. The annual tourist arrivals figure of about 6 million is indeed a small number given the burgeoning economy of India, and the increased interest of people from advanced countries in the Indian heritage sites and culture. The Minister for Tourism at the Centre has resolved to make India a hub for global tourism. He has also been making fiscal allocations to boost tourism in specific parts of the country. It is unlikely that such fiscal measures, even if they are meant to strengthen tourism infrastructure, will provide any better thrust than what the previous such measures could achieve.

For tourism in India to be a transformational sector in services, the sector needs some game-changing planning and execution.  A comprehensive and innovative strategic approach, rather than an annual fiscal approach is called for to make a meaningful impact. Such a strategic approach would need to recognize the specific objectives why tourism exists and evolves. Tourism emanates from a man's inner and intrinsic desire to explore and connect with the past and the present, the local and the global and the external environment and internal self. Tourism helps a person achieve peace in solitude or joy in groups. Tourism expands knowledge of various cultures and promotes global integration. For an avid tourist, tourism is a multi-dimension experience which can rejuvenate the body, expand mental awareness, improve cultural sensitivity, achieve familial bonding and enable spiritual fulfillment.These objectives are, however, difficult to achieve in practice unless the development strategy addresses the multi-faceted nature of tourism in totality.

Approaches to tourism

Essentially there are two fundamentally different approaches to developing tourism. These are thematic tourism and holistic tourism. The greatest examples of thematic tourism can be found in the USA with places like Florida, Miami, New York, Colorado,  Las Vegas and Las Angeles getting to specialize one exclusive kind of tourism theme such as beaches, surfing, modernity, mountaineering and casino playing, for example. The thematic tourism is supported by the development of massive infrastructure around the themes in each such dedicated hub to attract tourists in droves. Holistic tourism, on the other hand, provides a spectrum of tourism opportunities ranging from religion to modernity and from heritage to futurism based on natural and historical evolution of a country. Japan and certain European nations are prime examples of holistic tourism. Holistic tourism also requires world-class development and maintenance of the past, current and future infrastructure.

The advantage of thematic tourism is that the themes become not only the central attractions for tourists but also the core competence for tourism managers to establish new infrastructure and also expand constantly to find new frontiers in the themes. Las Vegas has, for example, supplemented its downtown casinos and entertainment districts with ultra-luxury thematic hotels in the Strip, each with computerized casinos, malls and multiple shows. As a result, Las Vegas has become the tourism hub for an eclectic mix of gambling and elegance. The disadvantage of thematic tourism, however, is that the tourist foot-falls tend to get narrowed. The advantage of holistic tourism is that it builds on an existing and evolutionary tourism map and would appeal to the full spectrum of population. By its very nature, holistic tourism makes it difficult for tourists to seek thematic satiationbut provides a total fulfillment.The disadvantage is that development tends to be limited by a historical base and core thematic competencies are not well developed in terms of either the infrastructure or service capability.

Indian conundrum
Indian tourism has all the potential of both thematic tourism and holistic tourism as defined above. India's Himalayas and the Kashmir valley offered enduring themes but also provided holistic experiences. Himalayas, in particular, provide a holistic combination of sublime nature, tough mountaineering, religious spirituality and yogic rejuvenation. The performance of the tourism sector has, however, failed to live up to the promise. Inadequate maintenance of the established infrastructure coupled with lack of additions for expansive holistic approach has led to near stagnation in the Indian tourism sector. The efforts of the Indian Railways or the large multi-tier hotel chains such as Taj and ITC have enhanced comfortable connectivity and stay options but have not helped to develop the basic tourism core. Kerala as a state has been innovative in positioning itself as the Ayurvedic Spa set in sylvan backwaters but probably could do much more on that score.

The challenge India faces in addressing the woes of its tourism sector are both mindset and investment related. The first challenge of mindset is one of lack of appreciation of the two fundamental approaches that need to be taken to take Indian tourism onto global visibility. There have been no strategic plans to promote thematic tourism and/or holistic tourism. The second challenge is the low priority of tourism investments by both public and private players, including foreign investors, on tourism infrastructure. The Indian governments, central and state, have tended to provide green field land to special economic zones rather than to new tourism zones. The foreign investors have been more proactive in terms of other service sectors like retail rather than tourism. It is time that these self-imposed restraints and challenges are ignored and an innovative and a bold new tourism strategy is put in place.

Indian advantage

Clearly, India has an advantage in terms of creating a new tourism experience combining both thematic and holistic experiences. With its rich tapestry of religion, temples, historical relics, arts, crafts, forests, hills and mountains, rivers, valleys and seacoasts as well as relatively moderate temperature differentials for most part of the year, India can offer a pan-India tourism experience all through the year. Amongst thematic experiences, religious tourism, spiritual tourism, cinema tourism, wellness tourism and nature tourism would rank high. Cross-country high-speed safe transport operations are the key to realizing this potential. The huge tragedy caused by failure of infrastructure under torrential rains in Uttarkhand is a grim reminder of how vulnerable could the Indian religious tourism segment be. Clearly, huge investments have to be committed to strengthen the safety of the tourists and population in general.

The second strategy would be to create new cities of thematic tourism in appropriate regions of the country on a green field basis. These could be India's hollywood, disney land, yoga and meditation city, ayurvedic spa and so on. Each city will need to be a 25 to 100 square metre project set up on a greenfield basis with world class facilities. Ramoji Filmcity in Hyderabad has been an equivalent of a hollywood studio and could be developed further. Another theme could be a yoga city which houses all the myriad Indian yoga and meditation streams. Wellness city could house all the reputed Indian hospital chains. Each such investment would require the governments to provide such vast expanses of land free of cash payment but in return for equity in a new public-private partnership mode. Given the right policy environment, this would also take the shape of foreign theme developers creating replicas in India as they have done in other nations, more notably Disneyland.  

Creation of new theme cities does not mean conversion of Mumbai into Shanghai or Chennai into Detroit. Those industrial and economic evolutionary developments must occur through normal economic development. New theme cities must aim at recreating Indian ethos. The current project, driven by Professor Amartya Sen and supported by the Governmnts of India and Bihar, to recreate the hoary tradition of Nalanda, the famous ancient seat of learning in India is a perfect example of doing something uniquely Indian. There must be themes woven around our ancient treasures of vedas, epics, dance and music forms, and art and craft forms as well as recent novelties of bollywood and folk entertainment. As an example, if Kuchipudi the village of the dance form of Andhra Pradesh is developed into a dance theme city it could constitute a typical Indian tourism advancement.There are hundreds of such thematic developments that can be planned and executed in India.  

Tourism mindset

For India to become a global tourist hub, a new thrust has paradoxically to be through domestic tourism. Indians need to treat vacations as occasions for rejuvenation of the mind and the body. Despite the rigors and hastles of planning and executing a fulfilling vacation, which range from securing off-time from work to securing reservation slots for chosen vacation spots, vacations can be an essential part of work-life balance. In advanced countries and regions such as USA, Canada, and Europe vacations are treated as a must-have each year. As a result, vacations, and more particularly theme vacations, have become a boom industry in these countries. Indians and India as a country has not yet made organized vacationing a part of the social and economic life. Indian vacationing habit has to develop alongside the new Indian tourism phenomenon.

The vacation day spirit of the richer Indians has been wafting towards global destinations over the years. If the Indian tourism infrastructure develops as advocated herein, part of the drift would be stopped while a whole new base of domestic travelers will be created. India has so much to offer and experience for the eager traveler that a lifetime is not often sufficient to cover all the tourism spots. By creating theme campuses and cities, probably more in the nature of one-stop cities, the Indian vacationing mindset can be reoriented internally. Las Vegas, for example, could not have been successful without it attracting a huge domestic tourist base. The more the domestic tourism the more would be the base level of services that can be offered to overseas tourists.

Immersive experience

Effective tourism has to be an immersive and integrative experience. Whether the nature is brought into modern structures as in Las Vegas hotels or natural ecosystems are built around modern structures as in Singapre or both nature and modernity are co-developed as in Japan, or untouched natural habitat is explored as in forests, a complete immersive experience is the hallmark of effective tourism. Tourism cannot therefore be the subject matter of one ministry. It requires an inter-ministerial empowered group to plan and execute a total tourism infrastructure. It also requires two nodal agencies; one to drive the inter-ministerial coordination and the other to attract investments and deploy them effectively in public-private partnerships. While the Tourism Corporation of India may be restructured and remandated to be the coordinating nodal agency, duly disinvested for private management participation, a new Tourism Finance Corporation of India (TFCI) is required to be set up. It may be established in public-private partnership with a starting capital of say Rs 1000 crore and with 50 percent each being contributed by the cenral and state governments and 50 percent by private industrial corporations. The TCFI may finance tourism development projects and seek repayments and returns as infrastructure finance corporations do.

Simple as it may sound, tourism is actually a complex and challenging domain. If India has to move up from the current low ranking as the 42nd preferred nation in terms of global tourism preference to a top ranking in line with its move as a top economic power, major strategic and structural initiatives as outlined in the blog post will be called for. The Ministry of Tourism may do well to undertake a comprehensive review of India's tourism potential complete with a study of global tourism practices and technologies and develop a total strategic plan. Initiatives like this will also require passionate and iconoc leadership. Like the Milk Revolution,Telecom Policy initiative and the UID Aadhaar initiative had its successes through leadership (T J Kurien, Sam Pitroda and Nandan Nilekani respectively), Indian tourism would also achieve structural transformation with a leader who is dedicated to taking Indian tourism to global scale. Identification of such a leader should be the first priority for the Union Tourism Minister.

Posted by Dr CB Rao on July 5, 2013