Friday, July 30, 2010

The Verma Test

A former Chief Justice of India J.S. Verma, made a very interesting observation recently. While explaining the challenge of institution-building, he said, "An institution can rise to its true strength, and truly play the role the founding fathers mandated for it, only if it is led by a person who has no past, and no expectation (of any reward) from anybody in the future.”.

Thankfully, my favourite newspaper editor, Shekhar Gupta, was close at hand, not only to mark the significance of this observation, but also to set it in perspective in an op-ed titled, "The Power of One".

SG's focus is on state institutions that have had a strong impact on the Indian polity - the Supreme Court and the Election Commission. But the "Verma Test" seems to be just as valid when it comes to  understanding why some IIT's have become exceptional (eg., P. K Kelkar's role in building IIT Kanpur) or why institutions like IRMA or NDDB have hit the doldrums.

Worth reading!    :)


Gupta, Shekhar (2010). The Power of One, Indian Express, 31 July 2010

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