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February 28, 2008
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
PERCEPTION AND SUBSTANCE ETHICS AND INDIA
The Louisiana legislature just completed its first special session under newly elected Governor Bobby Jindal. “We batted a thousand and set the gold standard when it comes to ethics,” ballyhooed Bobby Jindal. It was more like a double rather a homerun, but there is little doubt that the Jindal team got off to a good start.
Despite all the good government group claims that the public was up in arms and deeply enmeshed in the minutiae of the various ethical reforms proposed, what took place was a more general effort to deal with perception. The average voter was not so agitated about amounts of disclosure or spending, but was more concerned with moving from self-interest to public interest.
The new Governor can justifiably declare victory. But he needs to remember that any new rules of ethics involving public officials are only a part of the “procedure” of running government. The rules of how you play the game. New ethics laws give the Jindal gang a foundation on which to build their legislative agenda. But in the final analysis, results will be measured by success in national rankings on job growth, educational reform, affordable health care, and a host of other “substantive” issues that need to be the focus of the coming months in the state capitol.
That’s not to undercut the new Governor’s efforts of emphasizing ethics reform in his first time at bat. It’s a motherhood issue. Who among us is in favor of lobbyists showering fancy meals and football tickets on those who govern us? It was a smart way for the newÂ Governor to get off to a good start. Most of the new legislation passed with little or no opposition. So now it is time to get into the meat of governmental change that can produce substantial results.
Here’s the problem. Any major reforms take time to bear significant results. Education, health care, job development all need years once major restructuring is put into place. Any new Governor has to be careful of surrounding himself with people who believe change occurs in a moment of magic instead of a slow process of improvement. So what can Jindal do in the short term that can benefit Louisiana?
Let me suggest he start with his unique strength: his Indian heritage. Anyone taking the time to monitor the world’s newspapers in recent months will have seen news articles galore discussing and analyzing how a deep southern state could have elected a young Indian American as its new Governor. Jindal’s victory has been the front-page story week after week in newspapers throughout India.
So, you ask, what’s so important about India? Simply put, it has become the fastest growing economy in the world. The investment firm of Goldman Sachs recently released a study indicating that the Indian economy could well surpass that of the United States by the year 2043.
Did you know that 28% of the population in India with the highest IQ is greater than the total population of North America? Translation:Â they have more honors kids than we have kids. India is now rivaling China as the number one English speaking country in the world. If you took every single job in the US today and shipped it to India, India would still have a labor surplus. And how about this? In the next 8 minutes, 60 babies will be born in the U.S. 351 babies will be born in India.
The bottom line is that Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has become an overnight rock star with overwhelming recognition and respect throughout the fastest growing economy in the world. It shouldn’t take rocket science to figure out that Louisiana, under Jindal’s leadership, could grab a golden, once in a lifetime opportunity, to develop a strong business relationship that could prove to be bountifully beneficial to Louisiana’s future economic growth.
So Governor, bask in the glow of good press over your victory in bringing about the valid perception of significant ethics reform. But then begin a master plan to develop a special state relationship that only you can uniquely undertake. With an economic giant that could really be your homerun to point to when re-election time rolls around.
“Most successful politicians have not achieved their distinction by having some new
talent or opportunity presented to them. They have developed the opportunity that was at hand.”
Peace and justice.