Recollecting the challenges of global leadership


RISHI DHAMALA: The year 2019 has been a year of detrimental tests for global leadership. Recently United States House of Representatives impeached President Donald Trump with a crucial vote left to decide his fate by the Senate. President Xi Jinping of China has faced tremendous pressures from demonstrations in Hong Kong. Prime Minister of the largest democracy Narendra Modi has come under intense criticism for failing to control strong protests after the recent introduction of the Citizenship Amendment Bill. Just recently Vladimir Putin gave his annual marathon press conference one of the largest events in Russia. As CNN reported Putin was scrutinized for domestic issues which included problems of urban waste disposal, long lines at government clinics, and suggesting amending the Russian constitution to change provisions that limit Presidential terms.

The challenges that these respective leaders faced during the year tested their political and leadership skills. I look back today and try and evaluate the year 2019 that saw upheavals, challenges, and turning points in the vision of these world leaders. 2019 saw no less war waged in the Middle East yet there was hope that the situation would improve after restraint and maturity shown by global leaders. ISIS leader Abu Al Baghdadi was eliminated weakening ISIS the world’s worst terror organization. The year saw advancement in technology rising use of AI that has challenged the human workforce and employment. The world continues to shrink as people connect through various means on social media and the internet has now been the number one tool for connectivity and outreach.

Technology has advanced leading to leaps in innovation, financial dexterity and a world that is shrinking due to social media and the internet. This has led to significant monitoring on various aspects by the people, in general, all over the world of global leaders. Those who have the reigns in their hands and what they can do to guide the world forward as we look at a future of numerous possibilities and overcoming challenges in every nook and corner.


Donald Trump who is up for reelection next year is one of the most challenging times of his Presidency. Trump is the 3rd President to be impeached by the House of Representatives (HoR) of the United States. The Senate will take a final vote, but this would be a crucial marker in his Presidency. Although up for reelection next year, it is a wait and watches scenario. Trump projected his global leadership by successfully eliminating the leader of ISIS.

President Trump compared to his predecessors had the lowest approval rating while in office after two years. Trump equaled Ronald Reagan his predecessor from the Republican Party with just 37%.   However, within the Republicans, he has a massive 88% approval which shows that if not impeached he would be up for reelection in 2020. A staunch nationalist with the slogan of “America First” he garnered support from all quarters.


Vladimir Putin the inviolable President of Russia won a clear majority being reelected back in 2018. On the other hand, Putin is facing one of the biggest challenges to incorporate the new generation of Russians who feel distanced. According to Gallup poll Putin’s approval rating had declined to a historic low of 31.7 % and just last month 50% of young Russians were keen on permanently migrating from Russia.

Leaving the polls aside, Putin has been a staunch nationalist taking sweeping reform measures in the financial and manufacturing sector that revived the Russian economy manifold. He was also dragged into the controversy over meddling with the US elections of 2016. Putin has been protectionist and largely revived Russia’s economy under the 3rd and 4th terms of his presidency.


President Xi Jinping is affectionately known as “Xi Dada”. A song on popular social media on the President translates “I am in your heart, and you are in mine. You love us people, and we love you deeply”. Such is the love and praise for President Xi in his country.

President Xi not only has won Nepali hearts by paying a visit here and honoring the spirit of the Nepal-China relations, he currently is closing in with Japan. Both China and Japan were historically at loggerheads but times seem to have changed.

President Xi has welcomed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Beijing. On the occasion of the Japan PM’s visit President Xi has said “both nations should stick to the political consensus that China and Japan are cooperative partners but not a threat. In the spirit of turning competition into coordination, China and Japan will promote the continuous development in bilateral relations along the correct track” as also given in the South China Morning Post.

President Xi is known as a global leader known to mend ties and take China forward. He is also known as a staunch nationalist taking people’s aspirations with his slogan “Chinese Dream” forward. An increase in trade and socialist market economic reforms have been a hallmark of under his presidency. The Belt and Road Initiative has been well received in infrastructure development. Compared to global leaders President Xi has the highest approval rating within his country.


PM Narendra Modi the longest-serving Chief Minister of Gujarat before becoming the Prime Minister is currently under scathing criticism. The Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Registry of Citizens have come under widespread criticism although there seem to be proponents that leave public opinion divided. One of the greatest impacts in his second term has been the successful conclusion of one of the longest disputes in the history of modern India the Ram Temple in Ayodhya.

Revoking Article 370 and Article 35 A of the Indian constitution and bringing in the Jammu and Kashmir reorganization Act, 2019 brought in more inclusiveness in the region. After being declared as union territories the security concern has lessened. Similarly, the Modi government has taken decisive steps for crime and violence against women setting up over 1023 fast track courts. While the GDP declined, India looks promising for a 5 trillion dollar economy by the year 2024, while a World Bank report has placed India as the 5th largest economy of the world ahead of the United Kingdom and France.

We look forward to 2020 with global leaders uniting to guide us toward economic transformation. The need of the hour is reconciliation, less competition, and more collaboration. If global leaders realize the potential of what unity can bring setting aside their internal national ambitions, the years ahead can be seen to be technologically thriving, with rapid expansion in infrastructure and an increase in the standard of living.