Baijayant Jay Panda is currently serving in his 4th term in the Parliament of India. He was elected to his second term (2014-2019) in the Lok Sabha from the Kendrapara constituency, Odisha. He graduated from the Michigan Technological University and, with a background in Engineering and Management, worked in the world of Business before joining politics. Jay Panda had helped to form the erstwhile Young Parliamentarians Forum (YPF) and was its Convener. He has also been associated with the India-USA Forum of Parliamentarians from its founding in 2001 and is currently its Chairman. He was awarded the “Bharat Asmita National Award” for best parliamentary practices by the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India in 2008.
In our conversation, Jay spoke about what it takes to build a career in politics and specifically addresses the notion of resilience in a political context. He also talks about how politicians need to think about staying relevant over time in a digital world. He goes on to share his perspectives on how he priorities and marries the short-term and the long-term in the choices he makes. He talks about the notion of influencing and how the world of business could learn from politics on how distinctive leaders take advantage of fleeting windows of opportunity.
This podcast is for information and learning purposes only. All content and opinions expressed in the podcast are that of the guests and are not necessarily the opinions of Deepak Jayaraman or Transition Insight Private Limited (TIPL). Deepak Jayaraman and TIPL do not have any political affiliations or associations of any sort and this conversation is intended to be a non-partisan interaction.
Published in March 2018.
Nuggets from the
Politics as a career option
Jay talks about the criticality of financial independence if somebody is considering a career in politics. He also talks about some of the fundamental disconnects between the world of business and politics and how that can lead to challenges in people from the world of business settling into the world of politics.
Markers of Long term Potential
Jay discusses what a “lambi race ka ghoda” looks like in Politics. He also talks about the role of circumstance playing a much bigger role in Politics than in other domains. He talks about how effective politicians stay relevant by appealing to different segments over time as the public sentiment shifts over time.
Jay talks about what the bad days in politics look like. He talks about how easy it is for people to assign motives when you have none. He also talks about the good days when some of your ideas take hold and people see you as an individual who championed that change.
Staying relevant and leveraging technology
Jay talks about what how successful politicians have managed to stay relevant over time and have reinvented themselves. He also talks about how technology is begin to level the playing field in favour of people who do not necessarily come from a family of politicians with an established brand and mobilisation infrastructure.
Generating options amidst political constraints
Jay talks about how he has grown as a politician in all these years. He also talks about Track II dialogues where he is active. These are informal back-channels which can be tremendously helpful in improving the communication and improving one’s understanding of the others’ point of view.
Balancing the macro and micro views
Jay talks about how he thinks about the macro discussions he has when he is in Delhi or with an international delegation (which is often about solving for the future) and balances it with the concerns of the here and now that people in his constituency are facing. He talks about he manages to combine the bird’s eye view and the worm’s eye view.
Three pieces of advice that stand out
Jay talks about some of the advice he has received that has helped him in his political career. This includes being cautious about taking people at face value and in watching what you say in a public domain. He also speaks at length about the importance of listening to the voter needs and not getting swayed just by the voices of the party workers.
Perspectives on Prioritization
Jay talks about the criticality of creating the leverage as a leader to find a mechanism to process the volumes the data that comes to you to be thoughtful about your decisions. He goes on to talk about how he has to balance the need to go after legislative priorities with crises that might erupt in your constituency from time to time.
Lessons for business from politics
Jay discusses how the risk appetite is different in politics is different from that in the corporate world largely because, in politics, unlike in the business world, one has to secure loyalty first before going after performance and that can lead to a very different view on the kind of risks a politician might end up taking.
Influencing an ecosystem
Jay discusses he thinks about picking ideas to champion and talks about how you could get a pulse of the acceptance of the idea. He goes on to talk about the criticality of setting up feedback loops for you to get a pulse of the real public sentiment.
Perspectives on Excellence
Jay shares examples of three leaders (PV Narasimha Rao, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Narendra Modi) who have driven significant change despite the challenges that came with the implementation. He talks about how great leaders use a window of opportunity or a crisis to quickly shift gears in dramatic fashion to drive seismic shifts.
In Summary - Playing to Potential
Jay talks about importance of us cherishing the fact that we have a democracy before we get down to analysing what its short-comings might be. He also talks about the criticality of doing things that you enjoy and things that matter.