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2017
Asia Needs more Dialogue
Solutions to urban pollution may prove complex
Spread of ESGs could herald new global movement
Investing in quality education is imperative if India wants to reap demographic dividends
China needs to lead in new multi-stakeholder world
China’s B&R initiative leading a resurgence of Asia
Education is key - but long-term: Can we survive?
New wave of robots will be beneficial to all
China needs to continue with its ‘heavy lifting’
Time is right for Chinese firms to invest in Europe
Robots to the rescue for China?
Asian Multinationals are Going Global, But to Where?
China ratchets forward with energy efforts
China’s calm necessary for globalization push
Bridging managerial gaps involves trust-building
China well-placed to power its future through green technology advances
China's new 'springtime' is here
2016
China’s moves show it’s banking on the future
Mindset for action at the G20 summit will be determined by Chinese presidency
Chinese head-hunting intensifies for rare managers that can steer overseas firms
US talk of isolation jars with growing links in Europe and Asia
Electoral rhetoric on global trade not in sync with reality
Is it time to be prudent and consider austerity policies again?
What will we do if we have no oil?
Unlock talent by finding the right fit for a person
The benefits are real and tangible
Trade along China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ won’t succeed without the currency of trust
Reasons for optimism about the long term
2015
Can big oil go green and win?
Poorer Nations Could Sway Climate Talks
Combating Idleness and Deprivation
How China can be a model of food sustainability for the developing world
Kyoto II – Is it a Done Deal?
A meeting of the two largest economic powers
Why China will experience a 'soft' landing
Beware of superstitions
The Elephant and Dragon move ahead
G-7 target on fossil fuels raises many questions
Why Battle for Net Neutrality in the US Matters Globally
China’s resurgence – the ‘normal new’
Wanted: A managerial culture that embraces cultural differences
China's early education plan a smart investment in the future
The New Normal for China and India
2014
China's infrastructure push offers a sure track to better growth
US-China climate pact a good start, but not quite enough
Rethink the human’s place in the ‘digital revolution’
China springs a carbon surprise
Infrastructure - the invisible hand in full view
Dialogue vital for survival of Iraqi nation
China must nurture a new generation of beautiful minds
Great expectations in China and India
GM Cereals – The Pros and Corns
Time to be Honest about Our Energy Prospects
Weathering the Storm of Climate Change
Making a Big Decision? Beware of Your Biases
West Deserves Better Logistics Infrastructure
Digital Currencies do Represent the Future
From 'Printed' Houses to Wooden Skyscrapers
It’s time to bail out our schools, not our firms
Solution to India’s housing shortage – print new ones!
And the most promising green technologies of 2014 are ...
Transport infrastructure key to domestic, export growth
Oil stopgaps: Not worth risking
2013
Why the US should grant Edward Snowden amnesty
May we be more optimistic!
China headed for another massive social experiment?
A dialogue that worked
Yes, politicians deserve vacations - because we benefit
NPOs, NGOs invaluable as creators of dialogue
Look closer and ask: Is America reinventing itself?
Boston bombings case underlines need for dialogue
Millennium Development Goals or own goals?
As usual it's about balance - and timing - of course
Chinese strategists make right moves for growth
2012
Preparing for tomorrow
Austerity or growth?
Japan in danger of becoming 'just a place to fly over'
Beware of the business cycle?
An inconvenient truth
Limited offer sale: Buy a country
Where did our money go?
Leading from behind - a year of elections is almost over
Driving towards a green future
Waiting for springtime
Preserve or Perish
Startlingly similar Asia policy for Obama, Romney
Globalisation remains an irresistible trend
Google has the edge in smartphone war
U.S. Braces for China's Rise
Mankind’s General Scourge
The summer holidays are over and nothing has changed!
Put the hidden trillions to work
Making sense of India’s woes and wonders
Storm in a teacup!
Let’s give bad bankers a venue to admit their sins
News is about depth, not puff or velocity
Booming India, but too few toilets
Delayed Court decisions doesn't mean one may continue to play 'Great Game'
We need media to reflect on data and offer public a balanced view
Big polluters can lead in forging common purpose
The weighty issue of choosing a leader
EU-India Relations - Facing similar challenges
Educating with a goal
The Judicial Malaise
We are growing out, but not growing up
EU´s retrenchment enigma
Urbulence in the Eurozone and the effect on SMEs
Skolkovo May Help Russia to Diversify
Make things more effective
Tapping into the Commonwealth connection
Innovative models for public finance
Facebook revolution but Indian style
The feel-good factor
Asian investors - a private equity opportunity
India needs to be taller and stronger
China´s low sales volume...
Nations playing leapfrog
Shafts of sunlight
What webs we weave
As performers go to Davos, the circus steals the show
Can we control the politicians?
 
2011
Europe’s reminiscence
China firms should go for win-win in overseas ventures
Of procrastination...
Making sense of profiteering
Truth about financial mess must be laid bare
Small is also beautiful
China can help Europe with debt crisis
Excising the cancer of global corruption
Education, a critical asset
Arab uprisings set in motion forces of creative destruction
A new era of change
We must ensure better education for all
Beijing wary of bankrolling a lost cause
Asean's re-emergence as a local and global leader
Why India's Role in the Global Economy is Still Work in Progress
Its the leadership, stupid!
Reverse globalisation: The new buzzword
The weighty issue of choosing a leader
By Frank-Jürgen Richter
Business Times, May 26, 2012
 

In this year of elections, the physical attributes of a candidate may be telling

AS Lewis Gantt said: "Each spring a gardening instinct, sure as the sap rising in the trees, stirs within us. We look about and decide to tame another little bit of ground." So I began to muse a little, to indulge in whimsy, perhaps, and my mind turned to selecting the best candidates to lead our countries. This year, 2012, is the year of elections. Some say that by the time the year is over, as many as 80 will take place worldwide, CNN says 59. As there are about 193 nations, that represents about one-third of the globe.

Elections will be fraught exercises: the candidates will be stumping about trying to persuade followers to join them; populations will often be indifferent, while all the time the permanent establishment will endeavour to keep the machinery of state ticking over to maintain trade, cash flows and stability in the global markets. The nations involved represent about half the world´s GDP, so it is important for them to choose good leaders especially as many top changes affect the most powerful of nations.

Four out of the five UN Security Council members face (or have concluded) elections - Russia, China, France, and the US - in all about 40 per cent of the world's GDP.

The Russian method is odd in so far as Vladimir Putin pre-announced he would be president but held elections. China, on the other hand, is not democratic, so will see not only the top two persons change (Xi Jinping to be President and Li Keqiang as Premier) but also some 200 or more other staff positions rotate in keeping with the new leaderships and their followers but without any involvement by the population.

It is estimated that 70 per cent of the Chinese leadership will be changed. All changes across the globe represent varying degrees of future uncertainty in how each new person faces his or her populace and other leaders.

In many of the democratic nations we see leaders succumbing to populist sentiment. This is not really an indication of the public desire, but of politicians wishing to draw votes.

President Obama will do this with a populist and hopeful reduction of the cost of car fuels as he releases US strategic oil stocks, ahead of his election trail. In general, populism is bad as uninformed people become over-stimulated by over-anxious politicians looking for a quick vote. Yet when Mr Obama said to leading bankers in March 2009 "my administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks", he was drawing back a little from joining the rabble, yet being strong enough to rattle the bankers Going back in history we find both Plato and Aristotle had reservations about democracy as a system of government precisely because it was susceptible to corruption by populist appeals to superstition and error.

To get around some of these unsavoury aspects of democracy, politicians often spout at length but vacuously. Famously, the American political scientist, Robert Axelrod analysed major political speeches and found that they were largely contentless, which leads me to doubt if we have the correct people to lead us merely because we have "popularly" voted for them.

And we have been persuaded of their worth as they spent millions along their election trails. Is there a better way? As we have more and more been persuaded in the West that we are becoming obese, my attention was drawn to the measure of a persons´ stature. Getting votes is one way, but calculating their Body Mass Index (BMI) is another way. The BMI is also an interestingly neutral way of noting if the people are looking after themselves - too thin and they may not have the strength to maintain the heavy presidential pressures, too fat and they may sustain heart attacks or other serious ailments.

Measuring BMI is cheap, and getting leaders with the correct BMI may be no worse than electing a leader based on populist misinformation gleaned through lurid TV talk-shows or inspired by counteractive innuendo against another candidate's lifestyle; or by rigging votes, or by simply taking over leadership through a power move.

The BMI might also be a better indicator of longevity than hoping a leader will survive.

Such are the dreams of springtime when the new sap rises and the chill of winter disperses - yet we must also look to our summer and autumn.

Have we all that we need to sustain us through the next winter? Will we have the best leaders to greet 2013 and carry us forward? Meanwhile, I think I will go to weigh myself!

 

Frank-Jürgen Richter is founder and chairman of Horasis, a global business consultancy.


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