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What goes into making a ruler?
Anjuly Mathai
 Story Dated: Friday, December 28, 2012 15:12 hrs IST 
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The Guardian’s collected some pithy sayings of 2012 by interesting personalities. One of them, by Mitt Romney, is this: ‘We have a president, who I think is a nice guy, but he spent too much time at Harvard, perhaps.’

 Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the 24-year-old son of Benazir Bhutto, has just made his political debut. Bilawal has a degree from Oxford. He did his history and politics at Christ Church College. Our very own Prince Charming, Rahul Gandhi, has a degree from Trinity College, Cambridge.

I don’t know how good a ruler Bilawal might be. It does take a lot of courage to even think of ruling a strife-torn country like Pakistan. But my question is this: Can these young leaders go to foreign countries, get an idea of the political system there, and try and apply those principles to India?

 Ivy league degrees do help to some extent but they need to be complemented by an understanding of ground realities. For that, knowing your people and knowing the local language is so important.

I am a journalist in Bangalore. I know how difficult it is to survive without learning Kannada. A month ago, I went to Udupi to do a story on the famine of brides for Brahmins in Karnataka. The photographer who accompanied me was proficient in Kannada and translated for me but I still found it difficult to connect with the people, get an understanding of the problem.

Most of all, you need good instincts. Rahul’s grandmother might have been cunning but she knew, perhaps better than her father, what would work and what wouldn’t in India.

Bhutto’s speech was well-intentioned, no doubt. He touched upon some important issues. But I hope he learns something which took  Obama four years: making a speech is the easiest part of ruling a country.
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