Ram Navami this year has come during election time and the first of the seven phases is already over. That in every election people try to elect a Government that meets their aspirations, that is, a good Government. Needless to say that it is this good Government that will deliver good governance. In the Indian ethos, Ram Rajya — the rule of Lord Ram in Ayodhya in the Treta era — is the epitome of good Government. With Lord Ram being always talked about during election times, it is important to look for those practices which Lord Ram talked about as determinants of good governance. Great examples of wisdom are contained in stories and discussions of Ramayana. In the Valmiki Ramayana, we have Lord Ram in exile, living in the forest. Younger brother Bharat comes home and finds out what had happened in his absence and is shocked. He does not want his elder brother to be thus banished. So he goes to the forest and requests Shri Ram to return. This itself is a great lesson, given the lust to rule so prevalent today. The loyalty, the sense of togetherness, the ability to sacrifice one’s own personal gain is rare to find. Shri Ram, before answering his younger brother, enquires about the state of affairs in Ayodhya. This dialogue may be termed as a discourse on good governance. Shri Ram asks Bharat 75 questions: “Are you ruling the kingdom properly? Are you taking care of the elders?” And so on. These questions cover a wide range of topics related to governance of kingdoms. The eldest brother says, “Bharat, you are the king and you are on top no doubt. But the secret of successful administration is mantra (counsel).” The words in Sanskrit are, “Mantro vijaya-moolam hi.” Is the younger brother taking the advice of his team? Does he have good counsellors in the first place? In another stanza in the same section, Shri Ram is almost humorous. “When you take counsel from people, do you go for numbers or for quality? One sensible advisor is better than a thousand idiotic people to go on giving opinions.” There is another lesson on the crucial issue of time management. Shri Ram says, “Do you take up such tasks first where the investment is small but the rewards are high?” When we manage our time, we need to take up such activities first where we put in a little time and the benefits are large. Today, we call such jobs ‘high priority jobs.’ One of the biggest errors in time management is that we labour on less important matters. Stephen Covey puts it as “doing first things first”. Do not yield to urgency. Do not give in to any other temptations. Do truly important things first. And Shri Ram guides us to do important things first and then do them in time. Shri Ram also talks on economics. He asks Bharat, “Is your income larger than the expenditure?” He says, “Bharat, I hope your expenditure is not for the sake of undeserving.” And in the several stanzas that follow, he outlines for whom one should spend and for whom one should not. Similarly, there are lessons on all the critical aspects of governance. Who should be our ministers, who should be our advisors, how to dispense justice, etc. If we only take the Ramayana lessons seriously, there will be no need to hire foreign-trained consultants.
Pathak is a professor of management, writer, and an acclaimed public speaker. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org