Does History Repeat Itself?

Bhupender Singh - 09.19.2019

I remember my secondary school History teacher telling us, “those who forget history are condemned to repeat it”.

For the benefit of the readers across the world, India was ruled by the Mughals, who came from Central Asia, between late 15th century to early 16th century. It was like a loose confederation, where the respective local satraps were allowed to manage their fiefdoms autonomously as long as they kept paying taxes regularly to the central treasury. In return, the Mughal Emperor would provide security to the community. The system worked well on most occasions, but there were times when some local rulers- especially in far flung areas- would start doubting the power of the ruler and skip paying the taxes. If they got away with this (because of oversight, or negligence, or lack of determination of the Emperor), it emboldened them further, declaring their independence from the Mughal Empire. Depending on the Emperor’s priorities at that point in time, he was able to crush a few of these revolts but in many cases, local rulers were able to break away for long periods of time.

Many years later, while pursuing my MBA, I came across a management concept- Management by Walking Around- which has a similar gist. In essence, what this concept meant was that with workforce increasingly spread across the globe, the only way to ensure that people are doing what they are supposed to do is to regularly visit them and talk to them. If anomalies are identified, they must be fixed sooner than later else we will have breakaway groups and it would take disproportionate efforts to bring things back in order. The various systems and reports are important diagnostic tools (similar to tax collection system of the Mughals) but unless we interpret the symptoms well and then act on the diagnosis quickly, these tools will be a washed investment.

Food for thought for our leaders to be walking around?


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