Leadership, Political Leadership and Statesmanship

Genesis of leadership When the number is one, question of leadership does not arise, when the numbers are two, a germ of leadership is sowed, when the numbers are more than two, question of leadership appears visible indistinctly but when the numbers are more than three, question of leadership is manifest and, therefore, unavoidable. As a result, the question crops up instantly, what is leadership? Unpretentious simplest answer is, a leader is a person who is followed by others, whether it is in a family or in a society or in a club or in religious institution say, mosque, church, pagoda, temple or in an association or in an office, corporate and non-corporate, or in an administration/government or in a political party.
Old debate, Patriarchy predates Matriarchy or Matriarchy predates Patriarchy still remains unsettled in the disciplines concerned, although 99% of the population on earth Planet hold ‘Patriarchy predates Matriarchy’ Therefore, avowing the proposition ‘Patriarchy predates Matriarchy’ this can safely be concluded that historically, leaderships originated from husbandhood (The condition of being a husband) meaning the first female of mankind accepted the first male as both partner and guardian, turned into husband and wife and started leading wedded life, which acted as the basis of the family. It swelled and elongated when the couple attained parenthood by giving birth to child/children and, as a necessary adjunct, grew there management and leadership in nebulous mood and mode. And so, the sequences stand as ‘husbandhood→ parenthood → leadership’ (Sequence-1).
Leadership is an atomic concept, which has ineludibly many wings matching with respective disciplines and needs under the circumstances in question and the most blossoming is political leadership(s) and, for that reason, political leadership postdates leadership as leadership(s) postdates parentship(s) and parentship postdates husbandship..Even being the youngest in origination, political leadership ranks top of all sorts of leaderships because its ambits, dimensions, challenges, dilemmas and opportunities claim so theoretically and hence, the sequences stand as husbandhood→ parenthood → leadership→ political leadership (Sequence-2).
When such political leadership(s) gets sharpened and matured in the widest scales and dimensions rising above ultra plus it then attains statesmanship and thus, the sequences stand as husbandhood→ parenthood →political leadership→ statesmanship (Sequence-3).
Concept of leadership began ballooning in the context of time, space and dimension with various forms, natures, folds and dimension in wider scales in national, regional and global outlooks. That’s why there we find the words family leader, social leader, national leader and global leader and necessarily, as well there emerge business leader, corporate leader, trade union leaders, political leader and so forth. But one must not miss to bear in mind that the very concept of leadership is ‘atomic in nature and positive in manifestations under all the circumstances, favourable or not’. From such viewpoints, chief of thieves, smugglers, hooligans and so on in the same veins and spirits are not to be treated as leaders rather they may be termed otherwise. In pejorative connotations indeed, say, gangster, don, mafia et cetera.
For long leaderships have been being defined from various standpoints with luminous characteristics and today the very domain is getting flooded with theories after theories encompassing both political to non-political ambits. Here our concern is leadership in political parties and administration (government) within the fold of politics.
Concept of political party in a democracy was neither known in ancient time nor in the Middle Ages. So long Parliament beginning from the day of the signing of the Magna Carta on 15 June 1215 at Runnymede in England remained as an advisory body of the King, the necessity and concept of political party/parties was a seven heaven even.
The emergence of political parties took place in 1679 pinpointing the Exclusion Bill crisis of 1678-1681 followed by the dissolution of Parliament by Charles 11..Supporters in favour of the Bill got united and petitioned for a new parliament came to be known as ‘Petitioners’ while those who expressed their abhorrence of the attempt to force the king to summon parliament were consequently named ‘Abhorrers’. Later ‘petitioners’ became known as ‘Whigs’ leading to the formation of the Liberal party and the ‘Abhorrers’ came to be identified as ‘Tories’ leading to the creation of the Conservative party. The sway of political parties over the people began to increase and swell bit by bit and people at a certain stage effectively became dependent on political parties for their concerns and matters in a state, which can be well understood from political landscapes of the then United Kingdom, the motherland of multi-party parliamentary democracy. W.S. Gilbert in 1882, understanding the Influence and gravity of political parties over the people of UK, wrote:
‘How nature does always contrive
That every boy and gal
That’s born into this world alive
Is either a little liberal
Or else a little conservative
Having distastes from.
Considering the functioning of diametrically opposed political parties in confrontational moods and modes in United Kingdom as threats to national unity, Founding fathers of USA thoughtfully avoided the presence and operation of political parties in the soil of America but soon it proved to be futile exercise when it was found that sharp differences arose and developed manifestly in 1796 presidential election, one under anti-Federalist camp with Jefferson and Madison at the apex supporting more say in favour of the federated united, called states in American Constitution, while other under Federalist composite with Adams and Hamilton at the top standing by federal dominance. With incumbent President George Washington having refused a third term in office, the 1796 election became the first U.S. presidential election in which political parties competed for the presidency. The Federalists became united behind Adams and the Democratic-Republicans supported Jefferson and Madison. Thus, later came into being the Republican Party and the Democratic Party.
In the British Indian sub-continent, Congress was floated with leadership of Barrister Womesh Chunder Bonnerjee with guidance and inspiration of former British Imperial civil servant (later the Indian Civil Servant), political reformer and botanist Allen Octavian Hume in 1885 followed by Muslim League founded and led by Nawab Sir Khawaja Salimullah Bahadur GCIE KCS in 1906. Alongside were born many political parties in various shapes, natures and dimensions with divergent ideologies and approaches., although only Congress and Muslim League came to formidable standing to dominate the political landscapes as a whole.
During the British periods from 1885 to 14/15 August 1947, there were born hundreds of political leaders and politicians who placed their names in the political history of the subcontinent as legendary ones notably calling to mind, among others, are MK Gandhi, Motilal Nehru, Jawaharlal Nehru, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Dr. Ambedkar, Vallabhbhai Jhaverbhai Patel, popularly known as Sardar Patel,, J.B. Kripanali, Shaukat Ali,, Mohammad Ali Jauhar, Hakim Ajmal Khan, Subahchandra Bose, Sir Salimullah, Quad e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Huseyn Shaheed Sarwaredhy, Dadabahi Naoroji, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Chittaranjan Das, Annie Besant, Surandranath Benarjee, Rahimillah M.Sayani, Abul Kalam Azad and so on.
Partition of British India into two sovereign states, India and Pakistan gave birth to new political landscapes in the politics in this sub-continent. India began to continue with Congress having Mahatma Gandhi as political mentor and Jawaharlal Nehru as Prime Minister and main focus and other regional parties markedly CPM, CPI. Later National Congress faced splits, although it ruled India for long under Nehru dynasty comprising Jawaharlal. Nehru, his daughter Mr. Srimati Indira Gandhi and her eldest son Rajib Gandhi and it is currently being led by his wife Sonia Gandhi(although Rahul Gandhi, the only son of Rajib Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi, led the party for two years but resigned on personal ground and then Sonia Gandhi took over again). Leaders such as Jagjiban Ram, Charan Singh, Chandra Shaker, VP Singh, Raj Narayan, Abdul Gani, Siddhartha Shankar Roy, and Pronab Mukherjee contributed a lot from their respective standpoints.
Upsurge of Bharatiya Janata Party now with Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi as the central figure transformed secular India into religious India with Hinduism as ideology. The BJP traces its roots to the Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS; Indian People’s Association), which was established in 1951 as the political wing of the pro-Hindu group Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS; “National Volunteers Corps”) by Shyama Prasad Mukherjee. The BJP was formally established in 1980, following a split by dissidents within the Janata Party coalition, whose leaders wanted to exclude elected BJS officials from participating in the RSS (Critics of the RSS have consistently accused it of political and religious extremism, particularly because one of its members had assassinated Mahatma Gandhi) The BJS advocated the rebuilding of India in accordance with Hindu culture and called for the formation of a strong unified state and BJS subsequently reorganized itself as the BJP under the leadership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Lal Krishan Advani, and Murali Manohar Joshi.
Therefore, India began with a novel political journey with BJP Leaderships with Hinduism and united India as vision and mission while National Congress remains stick to non-secular India and thus, India became trapped in diametrically opposed confrontational politics at the negation of the very will of Mahatma Gandhi, Architect of independent, free and sovereign India. Not only this such journey also attached formal validation to Jinnah’s ‘Two Nations Theory’ depending on which India and Pakistan came into being on 14/15 August 1947 respectively. To be more specific, according to this theory Muslims and Hindus are two separate nations by definition; Muslims have their own customs, religion, and tradition, and from social and moral points of view, Muslims are different from Hindus; and therefore, Muslims should be able to have their own separate homeland in which Islam is the dominant religion, being segregated from Hindus. The two-nation theory advocated by the All India Muslim League is the founding principle of the Pakistan Movement (i.e. the ideology of Pakistan as a Muslim nation-state in the northwestern and eastern regions of India) through the partition of India in 1947.
The most important point to be noted here is that political leaderships of BJP in India ideologically embraced religion, Hinduism, as vision and mission and, curiously enough, despite lot of unwanted events and sceneries swamping Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019, Population Regulation Bill, 2019, Mosque of Babar issues in specific BJP is gaining and advancing with majority Hindu supports of one billion and thirty million population. Today, India is almost a two party political system under the shadow of coalition politics. Overall landscapes encompassing politics, political parties with various ideologies, visions and missions and leaderships in India expose the natures and standards of political domains therein.
Pakistan started to endure with Muslim League headed by its Father of the Nation Quaid- e- Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, which subsequently got split mainly into Convention Muslim League led by military turned political leader General Ayub Khan and Council Muslim League led by Mian Mumtaz Mohammad Khan Daultana with other prominent leaders Sardar Muhammad Zafarulla Sardar Shauket Hyat Khan, Chaudhry Muhammad Husain Chattha, Khawaja Muhammad Safdar, Abdul Qayyum Khan and Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi. Later, Pakistan People’s Party founded by Zilfiquar Ali Bhutto was floated in 1966. Awami Muslim League (later renamed Awami League) was hovered in 1949 first led by Maulana Abul Hamid Khan Bhashani, then by Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy and finally by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, titled in 1969 Bangabandhu( Friend of Bengal) and later became Father of the Nation of Independent and sovereign Bangladesh. Unlike India, Pakistan within the short span of its political journey faced martial law twice, first in 1958 by Chief of Army Field Martial Ayub Khan and then in 1969 by Chief of Army General Yahya Khan. Political leaderships, political parties and politics were under extreme suffocation under military rule.
Bangladesh made a journey with Awami League led by the father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Its journey was certainly challenging under the settings of the then bi-polar world steered by USA and USSR and it got boiled further as the country was divided into pro-Liberation and anti-Liberation forces since Bangladesh came into being as a free, independent and sovereign state on 16 December 1971 through a 9-month bloody war of liberation supported by India with Pakistan. In its first Constitution framed on 4 November 1972, four principles such as nationalism, democracy, socialism and secularism were adopted banning religion-based politics.
Jatiya Samajtantric Dal (JSD), the first newly born political party in independent Bangladesh, was floated in 1973 under leaderships of freedom fighters Major (Rtd) MA. Jalil and ASM Rob as disapproval to misdeeds of Mujib regime. Bangladesh met with one-party system called BAKSAL (Bangladesh Krishak Sramil Awami League in Bangla and in English, Bangladesh Worker-Peasant’s People’s League) on 24 February 1975 encompassing Bangladesh Awami League, Communist Party of Bangladesh, National Awami Party (Mozaffar) and Jatiya League under the leadership of the father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman). Leading political figures in this phase were Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhasani Ataur Rahman Khan, Taj Uddin Ahmed, Monsur Ali, Syed Nazrul Islam, Kamaruzzaman, Moni Singh, and Muzaffar Ahmed and so on.
Alike Pakistan, Bangladesh also confronted martial law regimes twice one in 1975 through the assassination of the father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and members of his family save sheikh Hasina, currently Prime Minister, and sheikh Rehna who were then in foreign lands and other in 1982(in fact assassination of Ziaur Rahman by an abrupt centrally disjoined coup by Major General Mumjur, GOC of Chittagong division, on 30 May 1981 paved the way smother for second martial law by HM Ershad). In both cases, military dictators General Ziaur Rahman and HM Ershad formed their own political parties named Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and Jatiya Party (JP) respectively. Besides, so many small parties called bi-cycle, drawing room party, wagon party, bus party, rail party (all these mean too small in size and too poor in mobilizing public opinions) were born on different occasions typically under the patronages and financial supports of those regimes Switching over from multi-party to one party(BAKSAL in 1975) to multi-party after 15 August 1975 with the birth of so many political parties of various sizes, natures and ideologies consuming left-leaning, extreme left, right-leaning, extreme right and moderates political parties and political leaderships as well made the political landscapes in Bangladesh disturbing and puzzling as a whole. Left politics and its leaderships are virtually marginalized while right-leaning politics especially fully region-based like Jamat e Islami (most of the stalwarts because their anti-liberation activities and crimes against humanity faced trials and either were sentenced to death or imprisonment for life) and political leaderships are in disarray due to parochial and vested interests. At present political firmaments are coloured with leaderships that embrace readily are— Begum Khaleda Zia, currently Chairperson of BNP and three-term Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Dr. Kamal Hossain, chief architect of the constitution of Bangladesh and founder Gonoforum, Prof. Dr. B. Chowdhury, former President of Bangladesh and founder of Bikalpa Dhara, freedom fighter, also known as Bangabir, Kader Siddique, founder of Krishak party, Mujahidul Islam Salim, one of the founders of Communist party, barrister Moudud Ahmed, Shah Mozzam Hossain, Tofael Ahmed, Motia Chowdhury, Obaidul Kader, Mirza Fukrul Islam and so forth.
This is really very much attention-grabbing that post-1975 generated coalition/alliance politics implying today no political party singly is in a position to win majority seats in parliament to form a government and, therefore, alliance/ coalition cropped up a reality. The most demerits of the politics of coalition is that it allows not too much known leaders of small parties in the coalition to gain politically and materially concurrently sidetracking and cornering formidable nationally recognized leaders for allowing spaces. Today, there are at least 50 registered political parties, however, only a few named Awami League, Bangladesh Nationalist Party and Jatiya Party are meaningfully in the fields with representations in parliament.
The very purposes of narrating all these in the contexts of British India, independent India and Pakistan and then Bangladesh are to show and establish propositions that politics and political leaderships are intertwined, inherent and time-bound. A political leadership must have to take the overall state of affairs into accounts with due importance and weightage to actors playing in such landscapes, directly or indirectly, at the same time keeping an Eagle eye on local, national, regional and global realities to which his/her initiatives, policies, vision, mission, objectives and strategies tied essentially. Weak leadership breeds weak performance, weak performance invites weal standing at home and abroad. From realistic point of views, political leaderships, willingly or not, once get trapped in self/parochial/vested gains and interests at the negation of the welfare of the people and state in question that state of standing is really shocking all in all and thus, it may rightly be termed as’ political leadership(s) trap’. India, Pakistan and Bangladesh are now within the parameter of political leadership trap and such reality also chasing largely the states in developing hemisphere in meticulous.
Leadership taking in its fold political party, parliament and government is neither amateurship nor sportsmanship rather it is both arts and science and hence, must be christened and ornamented with the best positive qualities of human beings overpowering the odds and evils all in all. It is inherently tagged with compassion, honesty, fairness and transparency, gallantness, responsibilities, responsiveness and accountabilities and sacrifices going beyond ultra plus. Knowledge and experiences both institutional and non-institutional, mission and vision, power of listening and understanding, power of digestion and bearing and power of delivery as and when required inalienably move with leaderships. Such imprints and imageries have been depicted in the thoughts and analyses of political thinkers, theorists, analysts, political scientists, sociologists and social thinkers with variations and peculiarities within respective epochs engulfing the periods from ancient to Middle Ages to the present.
One of the decisive characteristics of leadership has been exposed in the language of great Shakespeare who said: ‘Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once.
Of all the wonders that I yet have heard, It seems to me most strange that men should fear; seeing that death, a necessary end, Will come when it will come.”(Julius Caesar (II, ii, 32-37).
Leadership(s) presupposes submissiveness and politeness in mental make-up and hardly a leader is full of pride of saying:
‘I am the Monarch of all I survey;
My right there is none to dispute
From the centre all round to the sea
I am lord of the fowl and the brute’ (William Cooper, 1731-1800)
Political leadership(s) fairly utter with confidence and valor echoing Napoleon Bonepart ‘There is no Alps’ recalling the historical landscapes ‘When Napoleon was charged with the task of leading the French invasion into Italy via the Alps, his engineers advised him that the terrain of glaciers and steep precipices meant an impasse with canon and other weaponry was impossible. “Impossible,” he replied, “is a word found only in the dictionary of fools.” He proclaimed that: “There shall be no Alps!” and set about to make it so (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/shall-alps-why-obstacles-way-key-entrepreneurial-success-dupsy-abiola). Also in the words of Robert Bruce ‘Impossible is a word to be found in the dictionary of fools’.
Leadership(s) these days implies emphatically radiation with centripetal and centrifugal forces being necessarily appraised of ongoing march of science and technology. That’s why, political leadership(s) in explicit hardly wonders and sounds:
‘Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky.
When the blazing sun is gone,
When he nothing shines upon,
Then you show your little light,
Twinkle, twinkle, all the night’ (Jane Taylor, 1783-1824)
So, it is for the reason that it signifies his/her lagging far behind.
This is a story with the moral lesson, where there’s a will there’s a way. The story gives us a good moral lesson. It is the story of pigeons, a hunter, and a mouse. The story is very interesting and a new one. You will enjoy the short story. (https://www.zahidenotes.com/2018/12/where-there-is-will-there-is-way-story.html). Therefore, its appeal to leadership(s), especially to political leadership(s) is of paramount implication because political leadership(s) with a resolute will can show ways better/the best.
Leadership(s) takes as fact that life is a curve and full of challenges, dilemmas and opportunities therein, not straight and not even sonnets (A sonnet is a one-stanza, 14-line poem, written in iambic pentameter: five sets of unstressed syllables followed by stressed syllables for a ten-syllable line The theme in first eight lines goes up and comes down in the next six lines). For political leaderships, it is a Himalayan certainty. In the words of philosopher, scientist and former President of India APJ Abdul Kalam, widely known as Missile Man, ‘PIZZA always confuses us, it comes in a Square box, yet when you open its round. And when you start eating it it’s a triangle. Life and people are like pizza look different, appear different and of course, behave absolutely different’ (https://www.pinterest.com/hengmaryzz/thinkers-so-great-wow/).Hence, political leadership(s) has to understand the peculiarities of Pizza character so that he/she may be in a strong position to judge pizza-like human character for not being confused off and often.
Leadership(s) cannot be apathetic to the authenticity: “whole is truer than its part(s)’ meaning a leader never commits a mistake to take the stocks in full in question while attaining at a conclusion and this is, speaking even commonly, is a part and parcel to political leadership(s).
Fundamentals of Inductive logic tell us: (a) nothing comes out of nothing. Every event/occurrence is a result of multiple causes, instant and distant. For instance, if a bomb explodes at a place then it needs to be noted carefully that it did not explode singly for the instant reason of its switching on but reasonably and scientifically also for the reasons of its planting in that very mode and direction and, above all, the human brain(s) behind all the plans and technicalities must be taken into account and (b) Nature behaves in the same way under the similar circumstances, which point toward that if there is a rain today, there shall be rain tomorrow provided the same weather takes place again. That’s why, instead of going for any kind of SOS services to meet with the crises in question, no doubt, political leadership(s) prefers giving thoughts in wider perspectives.
In his inspiring ethical story ‘The Emperor’s Three Questions’, Leo Tolstoy noted: ‘Remember that there is only one important time and that is now. The present moment is the only time over which we have dominion. The most important person is always the person you are with, who is right before you, for who knows if you will have dealings with any other person in the future? The most important pursuit is making the person standing at your side happy, for that alone is the pursuit of life.’ (http://www.tnellen.com/iths/3questions.html). Political leadership(s) attaches due weightage and importance to such veins and spirits.
Following relevant quotes may deservingly be cited here to make it clear that political leadership(s) is the highest form of arts and science applications of which depend on those who play in the domains of politics and statecrafts.
‘There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why. I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?’ (Robert Kennedy). ‘Probable impossibilities are to be preferred to improbable possibilities.’ (Aristotle). ‘Our aspirations are our possibilities’ (Robert Browning). The future belongs to those who see possibilities before they become obvious (Samuel Johnson).’ Despise no man and consider nothing impossible, for there is no man who does not have his hour and there is nothing that does not have its place’ (The Talmud).‘When you say that something is impossible, you have made it impossible (Bruce Lee).’ ’Impossible’ is a word that humans use far too often. (Seven of Nine’ (Tertiary Adjunct of Unimatrix Zero One).We the willing, led by the unknowing, are doing the impossible for the ungrateful. We have done so much, with so little, for so long, we are now qualified to do anything, with nothing’( Mother Teresa)[https://www.uky.edu/~eushe2/Pajares/impossibleG.htm]
Legendary scientist Albert Einstein held “science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind”. Likewise, it can be stated in rejuvenated and wider versions “Politics without religion(s) is orphan, religion without politics is displeasing, indicating the theme, spirits and memos of religion(s) as one of the necessary contents of politics in its noblest manifestations shall have to be put into operation’.
Therefore, political leadership(s) cannot be in full without lessons from respective religion in particular religions in general. The core theme of religions speaks of honesty, fairness, dedication, responsibility, responsiveness, accountability, fellow- feelings, altruism, duty towards the Creator of all above, beneath and in-between land and skies signifying all the creations, parents, family, relatives, friends, nature, animal world, society and broader communities entailing state and the world at large. When a person/ leader/political leader distance himself/herself from respective religion and religions as a whole, he/she then invites sufferings from short of light within. Every state, this way or that way, is religious- politico state, avowedly or not. Similarly every person is within the fold of religion(s) whether he or she is conscious enough or not. And inescapably every leader/political leader is more or less is religious-political whether he or she senses it or not. But problem lies elsewhere as in most of the cases, say in 90% cases, appeal and activation of the teachings of religion(s) remain dormant, idle and inactive in our life and it is truer in the field of political leadership(s). There is no denying the fact that religion(s) teaches to be conscious, mobile, apologetic and pro-active as the same seem to be the basis and motto of leaderships and pointedly political leaderships.
Historically speaking, hundreds of civilizations came into being and lost into eternity. There might have been corresponding political systems and governments but our knowledge hardly go above 10000 to 15000 years back and with such limitations, it is truly impossible to draw befitting conclusions. When we hear of Maya, Mohenjo Daro, Sumerian and other remotest civilizations we wonder and ponder what a long journey human races have initiated since the march of mankind on this earth planet. We do not exactly know whether present civilization(s) is more advance or lagging behind but whatever it is, we like to stick to digging potentialities and opportunities lying in us, nature and around.
In his 1841 book ‘On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and The Heroic in History’ Thomas Carlyle made a pen picture to show how history got shaped and reshaped due to those who rose to leadership without political parties in contemporary concepts and contexts by virtue of power and wealth as did Plato in his’ Republic’ and Aristotle in his ‘Politics’, Chanakya (also called Kautilya or Vishnugupta) in his ‘Arthasatra’ (Book of Politics). Having all these in true perspective, today there we find plenty of approaches and theories on leaderships such as Great Man Theories, Trait Theories, Contingency Theories, Situational Theories, Behavioral Theories, Participative Theories, Transactional theories, Transformational theories, Charismatic theories, Management Theories, and Relationship Theories and so on but not a single theory is enough to characterize leadership in its totality. The rather synthetic approach appears more logical, pragmatic, accommodative and acceptable on all counts. My understanding is, the moot test of leadership should be ‘‘whether a person is followed by others institutionally/formally or non-institutionally/informally under the circumstances, approving or not.’
Therefore, a person as such may be a leader in a political party from grass-roots to national levels say, departmental secretary, joint general secretary, general secretary, vice-president, president at the district level and below and at the apex committee at the national level with members, departmental secretaries, organizing secretaries, joint general secretaries/ joint secretaries general, general secretary/secretary general, vice-presidents/vice-chairmen and head of the party called President/Chairman or in parliament say, whip, chief whip, chairman of standing committee, deputy speaker and the Speaker or in government say, member of the Council of Ministers(covering Full Ministers, State Ministers and Deputy Ministers, if any), Advisor to the Prime Minister.
Likewise, a person may be a leader in an association, organization of volunteers, a teacher may be a leader at a university, a speaker or an author who has influence over people through his/her thoughts and ideas may be a leader from such standpoints.
Leadership(s) may fall into perversion sensing a state of standing when a leader starts falling/deviating from the essentials of leadership due to his/her swelling propensity towards self and/or vested interests at the defiance of common interests of the people concern. In such situation(s), he/she feels free and unapologetic to view his leadership not as trust of followers or population concern but as a profitable capital and investment for self and/or coterie gains and interests. Sycophancies, philistinism, cronyism, malpractices and corruptions all such vices play role to contaminate leadership(s). Such deviation/fall transforms leadership into perverted leadership, which I term as ‘capitalizership’ (in fact. as of today, there we find no taxonomy for perverted leadership and I believe such coinage shall duly be in operation in politics). Aristotle in his Forms of Government in the epoch-making book ‘Politics’ also presented conforming perverted forms say, Dictatorship into Tyranny, Aristocracy into Plutocracy and Polity into Democracy and since the concept of a political party was not in usage during his time, he did/could not touch on it.
From these standpoints, Leadership(s) in politics may be classified into party-based leadership that became functional after the birth of political parties and non-party-based leadership, which prevailed in ancient time and the periods before the genesis of political parties. Such reality made it unmistakable that there was politics in ancient time mostly known as politics in city state where citizens, due to peripheral size of population and geography of the city state, played roles through direct associations with/participation in the affairs of state and periods after ancient but before the birth of political parties where kings/emperors/monarch ruled through respective moods and modes.
Therefore, the asking grows instantly, what is statesmanship? In a nutshell, when political leadership(s) gets habituated to view all in the broadest canvass going above parochial party or vested gains and interests holding firmly the great avowed motto ‘Collective prevails over singular, state prevails over collective’ then such very state of mind attains statesmanship. Here a statesman is a super political leader whose vision and mission evolve without a break around national interests and gains being respectful to necessity, reality and initiatives as and when required. In its simple definition. Statesmanship is statecraft explaining excellence, wisdom and skill with far-reaching effects in running a government or a ministry and, accordingly, it entails individual responsibility and collective responsibility, separately or collectively, while talking of a council of ministers or else called leadership(s) in government. In a government, even a minister can singly proves his her excellence with far-reaching effects arriving at the level of statesmanship but rare it is. Conventionally, the head of a government either in a parliamentary model or in a presidential model or in a mixed model (French model, Srilanka’s model for instance) is credited with such excellence. That’s why come the names of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, Abraham Lincoln, Weinstein Churchill, Charles de Gaulle, Jawaharlal Nehru, MA Jinnah, Barak Obama, and Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, Dr. Mahathir Mohammad, Lee Kuan Yew, Nelsen Mandela, J.R. Jayewardne and so on. The crude reality is that ‘poverty of statesmen’ has become a chronic crisis almost everywhere in the world.
Statesmanship can also be manifested in a political party without going to power that is in opposition, although in the rarest situation it may be possible in a ruling party and the star-like illustration is Mahatma Gandhi. When a political leader from his party’s end rises above mere party stands on a national/regional issue for greater interests of the nation and country he/she then attains the standing of statesmanship.
In its border connotation, statesmanship implies art and skill of administration, which encompasses non-political and public and private bureaucratic domains passing messages that even a bureaucrat in the administration attains the standing of statesmanship if he/she performs his/her responsibilities with utmost sincerity, honesty, fairness and matching integrity on all counts. Similar may takes place in the private sector, especially in the days of corporate leaderships and management. Truer it is that even in armed forces covering three services—land, navy and air—such kind of statesmanship is possible.
Therefore, the focal point is that statesmanship in broader context includes political and non-political domains; political domain has two wings one is from the seat of power and other is from the seat of opposition and non-political domain has also two wings one is in public administration, roughly called bureaucracy and the other being private zone in other ways called leadership and management in the corporate domain. Theoretically and operationally, a statesman is also a leader but a leader is not a statesman. But as ill luck would have it, political parties both ruling and opposition(s) are beating drums persistently branding their so-called leaders as statesmen of the first water.
Here it may be deserving to draw attention to the brainstorming write-up on 17 October 2016 ‘Statesmanship Beyond the Modern State’ wherein the writers Patrick Overeem and Femke E. Bakker identifying three concepts of statesmanship wrote “The aim of statesmen remains, of course, to promote the widest possible common good—or, in contemporary parlance, the general interest. This ultimately conservative goal to preserve the common good of one' s own polity while developing its good relations with other polities is what, according to Kissinger, distinguishes the statesman (Metternich) from the revolutionary—whether he is a “conqueror” who mainly relies on military prowess (Napoleon) or a “prophet” who prefers standing aloof on the moral high ground (Czar Alexander). This aim remains crucial to all kinds of statesmanship, including those of the third generation. To qualify for statesmanship, officials who are not politicians will also have to help keep their polity afloat and steer it safely. Coats’s definition of this aim as the upholding of the constitution to make politics possible also applies to them. When, for instance, the U.S. Supreme Court decided on the stalled 2000 presidential race between Bush and Gore, it did exactly that: irrespective of the side it chose, by cutting the knot it made the continuation of American politics possible.
As to scope, second, things are more subject to change. In practice, judges and administrators are mostly not directly concerned with the survival and well-being of the polity as a whole; their decisions usually concern a narrower interest. This is highlighted by Selznick in the opening sentence of his aforementioned classic, when he notes that besides a focus on “political statesmen, leaders of whole communities who sit in the high places where great issues are joined and settled” now “an additional emphasis is necessary” on the leadership of more or less autonomous groups and organizations within society. Here statesmanship is shown by actors who are responsible for only a part of the polity. Increasingly, however, one could also imagine “new statesmen” dealing with interests of collectives larger than one body politic. Officials negotiating international treaties on climate change or free trade, for example, can show “statesmanship” within a scope that goes beyond the nation-state. Thus, it seems that in third-generation statesmanship, the scope is no longer fixed to one particular size (whether it is the polis, the empire, or the nation-state) but varies with the size of the relevant governance level. Still, these “new statesmen” do serve the general interest of large rather than small communities.
The means, third that “new statesmen” employ also in part differ from those used by first- and second-generation statesmen. Coats is very succinct in describing the means employed by ancient and modern statesmen, but he suggests that both types of political leaders make use of public rhetoric and high-level negotiations. Such means are typically less available to judges and civil servants. Behind the scenes, they do of course use argumentation, negotiation, and decision making, too, but always less publicly and less politically. So, they seem to employ comparable means in a different manner.
Last but not least, what would be the proper virtues of contemporary statesmen? The literature on judicial and administrative statesmanship says very little about the (compositions of) virtues characteristically shown by the “new statesmen.” It seems clear, however, that their virtues have to be at least partially different from those of more traditional statesmen. It is difficult to conceive, for instance, how they can exemplify Aristotelian magnanimity in their “disguised” roles. And undoubtedly, both judges and civil servants, more than politicians, have to complement their statesmanship with craftsmanship, combining moral virtue with skilled professionalism. To complicate matters further, judicial statesmanship may require other virtues than administrative statesmanship. And different statesmen in different situations may excel in different virtues. Just as the transition from ancient to modern statesmanship implied changes in moral orientation, so will the further shift toward these new forms of statesmanship.’ (https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10457097.2016.1229563).
For an ordinary reader and political activist, one may readily take resort to what American, lawyer, politician and diplomat Adlai Ewing Stevenson voiced in very simple words ‘Politician is a statesman who approaches every question with an open mouth.’ Dr. Henry Kissinger, former US Secretary of State, also branded as Monarch of diplomats of his time, held ‘the statesman’s duty is to bridge the gap between his nation’s experience and his vision.’
Importantly more to be noted here that in the past I was actively associated with Jatiya Party headed by HM Ershad, then ruling party in Bangladesh, in various capacities including as Secretary for International Affairs for 12 years onward from 1986-1998 and had opportunities to learn a lot about national, regional and international landscapes of politics, diplomacy, economics, trade and commerce and so on being very close to multi-faceted events and leaderships therein.
And for the last few years, I have been delivering speeches on so many topics including leaderships at various national institutes, centres and universities in Bangladesh notably come Bangladesh Public Administration Training Centre (BPATC) at Savar, National Academy for Planning, and Development (NAPD), Bangladesh Police Staff College(BPSC), Bangladesh Police Academy(BPA) at Sardah, Bangladesh Naval Academy (BNA) at Chittagong, Artillery Center and School (ACS), Bangladesh Army at Chittagong, Jagannath University at Dhaka. There my intense studies on leaderships got enriched to a large extent through meaningful interactions with the participants and students (customarily, senior officers in respective services). What is more, I have so far written more than fifteen articles on leaderships in different viewpoints. All these reasonably convinced me to take notes on leaderships both from theoretical and practical standpoints since scholarly focuses on leaderships without having operational hindsight cannot be true reflections of conceptual understanding of leadership leading to political leadership to statesmanship. And in the end best it is to voice in line with friend, philosopher and guide, also called Missile Man of India, APJ Abdul Kalam ‘Dream, dream, dream. Dreams transform into thoughts and thoughts result in action’ ‘If you fail, never give up because FAIL means ‘First Attempt in Learning’ and let such utterances be inspiring for this Age and the Age to come.
(Dr. Sinha MA Sayeed (titled ‘Global voice’ for the book O United Nations), writer, columnist, public speaker, member of International Political Science Association, IPSA, and Chairman of Leadership Studies foundation, LSF, at sinha_sayeed611@yahoo.com.)