The Leadership Journey – 20. Leadership, Education, Rape

This is part two of this trilogy, and this is when my thoughts start to become muddled. So, bear with me as I muddle along now.

In the last post, I spoke about how our Prime Minister mentioned that respect for others starts at home. I will come back to this in the last part of this trilogy.

I also spoke about the absolutely reprehensible comments made by many of our other politicians during the Nirbhaya case.

A few months back, I also asked the question, “what the shit is leadership?” Some of the definitions I had quoted from Wikipedia last time are being reproduced now:

“Leadership has been described as “a process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task”.[1] For example, some understand a leader simply as somebody whom people follow, or as somebody who guides or directs others,[citation needed] while others define leadership as “organizing a group of people to achieve a common goal”

Bear in mind that all that these definitions talk about is the achievement of tasks and goals. There is no mention of how a leader can identify core issues and act on them, or that the leader can build authentic value systems.

Many years back, I read about Carl Jung and his theory of collective subconsciousness.  I have completely forgotten the writings, but the term stayed with me. We also know of the power of myth and story telling.


We can now turn the clock back.

In school we are taught a sanitised version of history. The tales of the conquering hero are sometimes told, and his qualities of bravery are extolled. However, leaders (and, most leaders in the past were military leaders) in the past allowed their warriors to pillage, burn, kill and rape.

Rape, you can say, was sanctioned by leaders. I can wager a bet that this has been a behaviour pattern that has no religious, national or colour boundaries. The question is – has this behaviour become institutionalised?

We are reminded of the term, the expression/ the phrase , “to the victor belong the spoils”. There is a sense of power, a celebration, a ruthless celebration of power and victory here. The spoils go beyond the normal acquisition of territory and money. Women, children were part of the spoils.

Has this behaviour become part of our psyche?

In today’s world kids are subject to greater danger, with the increasing prevalence of date rape. I often tell my daughter to be watchful of her behaviour. I tell my son to always respect others.

Think about this:

  • If a woman has several lovers, she is named a slut. If she wears skimpy clothes, she is named a tease.
  • If a man has several lovers, he is feted by his fellow men. He is regarded as some sort of a hero.

We need a new code. We need to be able to resist social pressures and to be able to say ‘no’ to cheap and abusive behaviour

Once again, I will not go into the psychology of the rapist. That is complex.

Also, when I talk of rape, I include men and women who are raped. Rape is rape, irrespective of the gender of the victim.

So now, what does this have to do with leadership?

When we talk about such issues we normally point to politicians, industry captains and other such people who are termed leaders, but who are too busy chasing their own fame. We can, however, choose our leaders when we can.

When the Nirbhaya case exploded in India, there were mass protests in India. Groups of people gathered at India Gate, there were candle light vigils, many of us carried the Black Dot Of Shame as our logos for a while.

Somehow, somewhere, all of us were jolted out of our complacency and went and joined a cause. We jolted the politicians, and collectively we displayed a new form of leadership.

(As an aside, the rapists in that case were beaten up by the other prison inmates who were completely disgusted by what the rapists had done).

Leadership starts with us, in the values we believe in and communicate to the people around us. Leadership does not start out there.

I think that we can start a new mythology. We may, or may not, see any substantive changes in our lifetimes, but that does not mean we can’t start now.



  1. Statistics of rape and the shockingly low rate of convictions in the U.S. military compared to outside the military tend to support your suggestion of a connection; that military leaders implicitly condone these assaults.

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