It may just be the Bangalore tradition of well-heeled corporate honchos giving back to society. The Bangalore Political Action Committee, for instance, has people like Biocon chairman Kiran Mazumdar Shaw and Manipal Education Group chairman
TV Mohandas Pai as its members, and the Bangalore Agenda Task Force had even more illustrious luminaries. The philanthropic work done by others like the Azim Premji Foundation is well known, and the Akshaya Patra Foundation, whose trustees are famous Bangalore names like Mohandas Pai and Raj Kondur, serves mid-day meals to 1.3 million children every day based on contributions from volunteers.
Even so, former Infosys board member V Balakrishnan—who was tipped to be Infosys’ next CEO—joining the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) represents a paradigm shift in this tradition. From egging on governments to do the right thing, providing them the intellectual wherewithal to do so, and aiding this with private initiatives like the Premji and Akshaya Foundation, Bangalore’s leading lights are slowly finding their way into politics. UIDAI chairman Nandan Nilekani has all but joined the Congress party and will be fielded from south Bangalore; and Bala now joins the AAP. It is, as yet, not clear what role a Nilekani or a Bala will play in their respective parties, whether they will be catapulted into leadership roles or whether they will be back-room boys, with the political leadership remaining with the older political class—in the case of the fledgling AAP, of course, that is less of a fear. The short point, though, is with all good men coming to the aid of the party, this augurs well for Indian democracy, and also suggests parties will get a healthy dose of both realism and remain sensitised to the needs of industry which is critical, if for nothing else, to pay for populism.