Saturday, September 6, 2014

Let us think and Act with an open mind to
Develop a Vibrant Democracy – Article 12

Introduction: I have identified thirty obstacles which cause a distorted and ineffective democracy and possible solutions for these. Because very few people have time / inclination to read long articles, these are presented in separate brief articles for pointed attention and easier assimilation. I hope this will lead to spreading of awareness and facilitating point by point debate on each of these for saving our sinking democracy.
(Please keep these articles within easy reach for referring back till the series is completed.)

National integration

Ideally, India should have a democracy which attends to the needs and aspirations of people all over the country. But the situation is very complex and intricate because of wide spread diversities. The feeling that we are all Indians with at least a substantial number of common needs and aspirations is lacking in the country. This has resulted in multiple sets of needs and aspirations which have to be satisfied by a democracy. State wise, language wise, religion wise, caste wise and tribe wise alienations in individualities stand in the way of common needs and aspirations. Wide gaps in economic status also divides the country into distinct groups with vastly different individualities, needs and aspirations. Unfortunately, this is made worse by activities of political parties which often encourage diversities in individuality by creating conflicts to serve their selfish interests. These make the situation very complicated with regard to needs and aspirations to be met by a democracy. Therefore, the needs and aspirations of people can be ideally met only by a federation of multiple democracies and not by a unified democracy. The fact that such multiple units of democracy, if at all they can be made functional, will criss-cross and clash with each other makes the situation extremely complicated and difficult to manage. Therefore, it is more realistic to strive for developing a national democracy which satisfies the needs and aspirations of maximum number of people to the extent possible, with special stress on the have nots who need democracy most, unlike the haves who can manipulate to have a good quality of life. The situation can be assuaged to a large extent only by a well planned and actively implemented national integration programme. This is the only way to develop the best possible democracy for the whole country.

But, attempts at national integration have not succeeded even after many years because of a bureaucratic approach with least priority, which has been sporadic, patchy and ineffective due to lack of vision and commitment. Hardly any attempt has been made to identify institutions which have been struggling to reduce alienations in individualities and support these or to identify and motivate some institutions to do so, because of lack of vision and commitment. There is an urgent need to systematically plan and actively implement multiple innovative strategies to progressively improve national integration, in a mission mode.

These aspects form the twentieth serious and complicated obstacle which resulted in a distorted and ineffective democracy.

To overcome this obstacle, national integration with a vision should be implemented using multiple strategies, in a mission mode. Thinking out of the box for innovative ideas is absolutely necessary.

One way is to have planned inter state migration by encouraging  people, who feel frustrated in  carrying out their visions or to have a good quality of life because of inadequate support from their surroundings, to shift to another area. To the extent possible, alternate choices should be offered to them to choose from. Each state should have an annual target for this and systematically identify, educate (by quoting successful migrations) and motivate persons, to meet the target. This planned inter state migration has the additional advantage of reducing tensions in the former areas by removing frustrated persons. The receiving states will welcome this if it solves their problems like lack of particular types of labour force, new type of enterprises, improvement in trade, additional cottage industries etc. It is pertinent that such types of unplanned migration have taken place and have resulted in inter mingling of people from different places, without any serious problems in the receiving states. A happy “give and take” approach among the concerned people has been strengthened. For example, thousands of people from Bihar and Kerala are working in many states and many thousands from North-eastern states can be found in cities like Bangalore.

A positive approach is to encourage such migration. For this, those who are prepared to migrate (particularly relatives and friends of those who already migrated) should be given financial and other supports and other incentives to do so. An easy way to identify such frustrated persons is to opt for religious and linguistic minorities. This should be strictly avoided because it is against the spirit of integration. Economic advantages and/or improvement in quality of life should be the guiding factors for migration. A systematic proactive approach with patience will yield substantial improvement in national integration quite soon.

Inter caste, inter religious and inter state marriages should also be encouraged by giving substantial grants to such couples. Honour killings and other anti-national and immoral atrocities which stand in the way of such marriages should be tackled through educating people and giving adequate grants also to the families of the couple and to village panchayats for each such marriage. Award for panchayats (including wards or residential associations in towns and cities) with maximum number of such inter marriages should be instituted. People should also be educated about the genetic advantages of such inter marriages.

School children and college students should be regularly taken on “know your country” education trips to areas with a different culture so that they can understand and appreciate different cultural practices. This will help to develop a national identity among children and young people. Incentives should be given to schools and colleges which undertake such “know your country” education trips, by way of grants, travel concessions etc.

As stated earlier, state wise, language wise, religion wise, caste wise and tribe wise alienations in individualities stand in the way of common needs and aspirations. Attempts should be systematically made to have dialogues with the leaders of such groups to motivate them to enthuse a national identity in their groups by educating them and emphasizing on them that there is no clash between national and group affiliations. Wherever a perceived clash continues educative dialogues should be continued to amicably remove the misunderstandings. Prestigious state and national awards should recognize individuals and institutions excelling in promotion of national integration.

There are fields such as sports, arts, music, dance and entertainment in which the above type of alienations are negligible. Priority should be given to encourage such activities through out the country to speed up national integration. An additional benefit is that such activities help people to forget their worries for some time and feel happy

Multiple languages in the country complicate the problem. A common national script for all languages should be adopted to mitigate this problem.  Mastering a new script is the most difficult part of learning a new language. Once proficiency in the common national script for all languages is achieved, it is easier for people to learn other languages and enjoy the richness of the literature in other languages of their choice. The fact that people are able to read many words which are common to many languages (particularly because of their Sanskrit origin) makes it even more easy. This will lead to better understanding of different cultures. When people travel from one linguistic state to another, they often face difficulties because they are not able to read the names of places, roads, eating places, bus routes and their destinations, travel direction sign boards etc. If these are written in a national script all over the county, these difficulties will be overcome and tensions on inter state travelers will be reduced. Because all people have to learn the new national  script, there will be no complaints about anyone group getting an advantage over another as happened when attempts were made to propagate Hindi as the national language.

It is important to have a change in mind set to provide adequate funds for all these schemes on top priority basis in order to achieve the worthy aim of national integration, which is essential to have a successful democracy.

In addition to the above, if a variety of serious innovative attempts are made to make it easier for people to mingle with each other, they will understand each other better and a feeling of nationality will develop.

All these emphasize the need for planning and implementing multiple innovative approaches to promote national integration, with determination and a sense of commitment to a mission mode. This will have a definite impact on making the needs and aspirations of people less complex and reduce conflicts to have a democracy  which satisfies maximum number of people in the country.

Comments (especially those which point out errors or deficiencies, if any, in this article and thereby help to improve it) and suggestions to overcome this very serious obstacle are welcome. Please send these to I shall make use of all befitting suggestions to prepare the last two articles of this series – Articled 23 will spell out the basic principles which will guide formulation of the revised system of democracy and Article 24 will outline the revised system of democracy for public debate to arrive at a consensus.

You can help to save our sinking democracy by making as many people as possible aware of these obstacles and possible solutions, through personal group discussions, newspaper articles, e-mail and social media like face book and twitter so that we can have healthy debates and arrive at some innovative ideas to save our sinking democracy.