UPSC MAINS 2015 ESSAY HINTS
1. Lending Hands to Someone is Better than giving a dole.
“Was it you or I who stumbled first? It does not matter. The one of us who finds the strength to get up first, must help the other.”
Lending hands is giving support to a struggling person in order to add something towards his or her empowerment so that the person is able to overcome a crisis or adversity on the basis of his or her own might/ strength on a sustained basis. Giving a dole is mainly propelled by feeling of kindness towards a person in difficulty to give a temporary solace. The example of former is giving education, vocational training and skill formation, low cost credit etc. to an entrepreneur while giving a dole is offering food to a starving person or clothes to a beggar in winter.
Lending support is based on a fellow feeling, perhaps on a much equal terms whereas giving dole is based on a sense of superiority. A support that is enabling lasts longer in the sense of empowerment for livelihood, achieving a higher living standard and pursuing dreams according to one’s potential. Support ends up in enabling a person for productive and fulfilling pursuits and so the fruits of support are sustainable. Dole is a temporary gift in order to please or show kindness to somebody, but it becomes burdensome and unsustainable for the giver if it becomes too frequent.
Lending support serves the cause of individual dignity on both the sides- the lender of the support as well as beneficiary. However, dole may be upholding the superiority of the giver, it is surely undignified for the receiver, especially the receiver for whom dole becomes a habit rather than exceptional situation. Putting the theme in current perspective also leads us to the ongoing debate on empowerment versus allowances, creation of productive assets versus subsidy, and economic rationality versus populism. Whatever way we go, there is no doubt that lending hands to someone is better than giving a dole.
Doles are like free lunches. Milton Friedman, one of the great patriarchs of capitalism said there’s no such thing as a free lunch and everybody should pay the price of the commodity or service he or she enjoys. Milton Friedman’s reasoning is easy to understand. If one individual or group gets something at no cost, somebody else ends up paying for it. If there appears to be no direct cost to any single individual, there is a social cost. Similarly, someone can benefit for “free” from an externality or from a public good, but someone has to pay the cost of producing these benefits. It also leads to wastage as the user who gets things for free would never realize the actual cost and never be prompted for economizing or conservation. Safety nets for the poor and disadvantaged are a must for any compassionate nation, but encouraging folks to go on the dole when not absolutely necessary is disgraceful. In a country like us where one third of the population is below poverty line, food subsidy cannot be altogether done away with. However, distributing doles to garner support during elections is not only illegal and unconstitutional but immoral also. Subsidies that are populist and irrational such as free electricity or free irrigation are called non-merit subsidies because their social benefits are far less than private benefits. These are also economically unsustainable in the long run. Subsidies in the nature of dole are very difficult to stop once offered to public. Prime Minister of Malaysia Najib Razak points out that giving subsidies is a two-edged sword. Once you give it, it’s very hard to take away subsidies. There’s a political cost of taking away subsidies.
Supporting those who want to work earnestly towards their livelihood, entrepreneurship and upliftment is a good proposition. This can be done by creating entitlements in terms of Amartya Sen’s words such as nutrition and health, literacy, skill formation, entitlement to cultivable land, venture capital or micro finance to an entrepreneurs etc. A woman can be supported for education or employment. She can be given freedom to decide about her marriage, career, and method of contraception or child bearing. This support would allow women to be free and dignified individuals of our society.
It has been seen in India that government’s support to farmers in the adoption of new agricultural technology has helped increasing agricultural production and productivity and made India selfreliant in foodgrains production. Creation of core and basic industries as well as infrastructure accelerated industrialization in India. Poverty alleviation and employment generation programmes have also helped raising living standards. The scheduled caste and scheduled tribe categories have seen increased representation in government jobs as well as parliament and assemblies due to special provisions for them. This has given them representation in the power structure of the country. It is a step towards empowerment. Such supports are immensely important in a society in which inequality is glaring and people do not have equal opportunities. In this sense reservation of seats for women in the Panchayati Raj system is also a welcome support.
Subsidies in India have often been in the nature of doles. The subsidies provided by government are marked by leakages, corruption, mis- targeting as well as non-asset creating expenditures. Subsidies have often been guided by populism rather than economic rationality. Such subsidies have been proving a drain on the budgetary resources and their effect has been price distorting. It would have been better to provide infrastructure and productive assets to create sustained employment through these resources. Now the government has started concentrating on supportive measures rather than subsidies of dole nature. Jan Dhan Yojana and Direct Cash Benefit transfer are new enabling supports that government is providing to the financially excluded and the weaker sections. Government is also concentrating on skill formation and promotion of entrepreneurship rather than confining itself primarily to wage employment programmes. Wage employment programmes have been dovetailed with asset creating programmes as we see in MNREGA.
Providing support is always desirable among human beings and especially members of a society or compatriots. In the absence of support budding geniuses, students, scientists, entrepreneurs or any potential performer can suffer defeat or underperform. It is the moral duty of all individuals and democratic states to support its citizens. Shannon L. Alder rightly says, “A best friend is the only one that walks into your life when the world has walked out.”
Such a great feeling overpowers us if somebody supports and helps us. We feel grateful. This does not apply at individual level only. Even at social level offering support to the deserving is a moral duty of each of us. For any democratic and just fellow it is worthwhile to remind, “Stand up for the underdog, the ‘loser.’ Sometimes having the strength to show loving support for unacknowledged others turns the tides of our own lives.” Somebody has rightly pointed out that the next time you want to withhold your help, or your love, or your support for another for whatever the reason, ask yourself a simple question: do the reasons you want to withhold it reflect more on them or on you? And which reasons do you want defining you forevermore?
Citizens of a nation are grateful if it cares for them and supports them in adversity. A bond of trust develops and patriotism becomes a natural instinct. A nation whose government is indifferent and insensitive is condemned to face social tension and even betrayal.
And above all service to humanity in any form is a noble act. People who are emancipated or even properly educated serve even those who are still backward, selfish, rude and laggards in all respects. Somebody has rightly pointed out that the task of the moral philosopher-thinker is to support and strengthen the voice of human conscience, to recognize what is good or what is bad for people, whether they are good or bad for society in a period of evolution. Giving support to anybody who apparently seems to be undeserving, because of some negative traits consequent upon his societal location is a benevolence that comes to us due to sympathy and empathy as a human being. And it is morally justified. On this ground even dole can be justified. But any support or dole that creates an everlasting dependence is not desirable for a healthy growth of society.
Thus, giving, whether through support or dole, is noble. But equally important is the consequence of giving. If support helps to explore and develop the possibilities inherent in a society or an individual, it is desirable.
If a dole can save lives, inspire the shattered and broken people, fills their life with hope, it may be justified for a short while. But eventually the quality of our intervention matters. Support is better than dole. It is dignified and sustainable. Dole is like giving crutches forever by making the recipient a lame who cannot do without it. Dole is at times a reward for inaction and inefficiency, support is just the reverse, i.e. it is reward for enterprise and efficiency. Dole ends the dreams and hopes decisively, support rekindles them.
2.Quick but Steady Wins the Race.
Fast, fast, far too fast. Life cannot be at such a pace, to last. Criticized for going too fast and too slow, a no win situation, but for I, the pace of life, shal choose, that I do know. For I see this as fundamental, save. To live a life in the fast lane and burn oneself out, physically and mentally, will surely lead to an early grave.
Quick but steady wins the race is a modern adage that is just the opposite of the old adage which says slow and steady wins the race. The modern age adage is relevant in the context of intense competition that we face and immense possibilities that technology has made possible in our times. We are living in an age of cut throat competition. In this age all pursuits become a race which needs both speed and continuity to win.
Speed ensures that we move faster than others while remaining steady ensures continuity in our endeavors. But this new idea cannot be taken on its face value as a superior strategy to win. Speed has its advantages and disadvantages both while in the name of continuity, steadiness should not mean procrastination and delay marked by inefficiency and lack of dynamism and vigour. Also steadiness should not mean foolhardiness to stick to and continue with a project indefinitely even if it is not delivering the desired results. This new age idea is opposed to the age old belief that slow and steady wins the race. The old adage essentially means that rather than speed, it is continuity of effort that matters more in winning. The idea is not without merit. Remaining slow should not be interpreted superficially. In fact every project which we choose to work on has a certain gestation period and we cannot achieve them without the relevant amount of patience and rigour. With breakneck speed, steadiness may not come as we are tired soon whereas when our speed is reasonable we can run a longer race. Wisdom leads us to the conclusion that both the new adage and old adage should be seen in context. Both the strategies have their own merits and demerits and when we are to choose between the two, we must be aware as to which of the two strategies works better in a given condition rather than blindly following them.
The modern age is very competitive and technology has added more to that. People have devised new technologies and strategies that make it possible to accomplish the tasks at hand faster. We can see how mill production replaced handmade production in the market place, how people using cars, trains, airplane can travel faster, modern gadgets can cook faster, using mechanical support can do farming operations faster etc. The advent of Information Technology and convergence has led to immense speed in delivery and sharing of information. Computers can do computation faster. Automation and instrumentation has helped to
accomplish tasks of a month in a week. There are fast modes of transport like bullet trains based on the Japanese technology. The countries which are technologically advanced produce more, consume more, and enjoy more. Even the various examinations for recruitment of human resources test both speed and accuracy. A reasonable speed is indispensable to accomplish the tasks faster and remain ahead than other competitors. But speed has several disadvantages.
With great speed, the chances of errors and mistakes increase. Speed also leads to compromise on the quality of work. In speed we are not able to see the problems arising in the process of our work, and even far less chance we get an opportunity to mend ways for improvement. We need time out to think and ponder, to be creative and innovative and to be corrective and improving. When we are at great speed in our lives our sense of beauty and aesthetics is blurred.
Slow and steady wins the race has been anecdotal theme and most well known of them is the story of hare and tortoise who decided to compete in a race. Although the hare was ahead initially, he became complacent later and fell into a brief slumber while tortoise which was lagging behind continued steadily and eventually won the race. The maxim means that even those who are slow in actions can succeed with constant efforts in their venture. People who appreciate the seriousness of a work usually chose to keep their speed at a reasonable level so that they can give ample time to the task at hand. Without properly working on the prerequisites of a task speed would not lead us anywhere. The old adage cautions that people who start their work with vigor but do not remain steady in their commitment to accomplish the task till end and become overconfident and complacent are condemned to fail in their endeavours.
Being slow is not a quality in itself. It is very important to assess the situation and its requirement before deciding about the required speed. The speed of action must be justified by the purpose and goal that we are pursuing. Sometimes we have only option- being quick and going fast! If there is a fire in a building or if there is a violent tornado or cyclone building up near the place where we live; we have no other option then to act fast. But this is not true about all the situations. A painter cannot hasten to make a master piece. A poet cannot hasten to produce 100 poems of high quality in a month.
Being slow in the first instance is the proof of our laziness, inefficiency, inaction, lack of dynamism and deftness in our skills. While laziness etc., inaction and lack of dynamism make us slow and need to be overcome, at the same time we must also realize that learning a skill, inculcating efficiency and deftness in a work are slow processes which need to be followed and practiced slowly. Thus, Carl Honore rightly points out that the slow philosophy is not about doing everything in tortoise mode. It’s less about the speed and more about investing the right amount of time and attention in the problem so you solve it.
Slowness is neither a disgrace nor a bad trait if it is adopted as a strategy to deal with a particular situation. We see a signboard of caution at dangerous traffic spots or narrow paths- “go slow”. Being slow gives us a time to think and ponder, to be creative and innovative and also to be error free. Going slow also makes it possible to see the aesthetics of our actions and feel it. In speed our senses do not support us; in a slow speed our senses remain poised. Milan Kundera goes to the extent to say, “The degree of slowness is directionally proportional to the intensity of memory. The degree of speed is directionally proportional to the intensity of forgetting.”
In both the adages, however, steadiness remains to be a common positive attribute for winning. Whether we are quick or slow, steadiness or continuity of efforts is extremely important for winning. Taking any dream or project to fruition requires untiring and continued efforts. Paolo Coelho says the beauty of life is that we fall seven times and get up eight times. With great speed we are tired soon, whereas with reasonable speed we continue with our struggle till we reach our goal. Life is very occasionally a magic, it is often more akin to music. Magic may be quick and fast but music becomes quick and slow depending upon the requirement of a situation. We won’t disagree with Robert W. Service when he asserts, “It’s the steady, quiet, plodding ones who win in the lifelong race.”
However, winning the race is a multifaceted concept in the sense that it means different things to different people. In an acquisitive society we want to have it all fast and quick- wealth, power, recognition or even fun. But for another set of persons winning race may mean living for making a change in the existing order of the things for larger good, justice, innovation, creativity, art, and aesthetics. Some people give lives in the service of humanity or for the cause of freedom and liberty. These processes by their very nature are slow.
The first set of people may opt for speed while the second set may rely on steadiness. In fact in some cases it is possible to be quick as well as steady, but in other cases being quick may not always be compatible with
being steady. Reasonable speed is certainly a prerequisite of success, but excessive speed is dangerous. There is always a danger of collision or a fall if our breaks fail.
Slowness as a personality trait doesn’t help. It breeds laziness, inefficiency, inaction, lack of dynamism as highlighted above. But slowness as a choice has its own beauty. Success is steady progress toward one’s personal goals. It is a mistake to think that moving fast is the same as actually going somewhere. It is very important to ascertain where are we going. Being quick is a proof of efficiency, but speeding towards our goal breeds immense restlessness which makes us uncaring, ruthless and often brazenly mechanical. The limits of speed has to be decided, otherwise it becomes frustrating.
Being quick as a mark of efficiency, deftness and skill is good. But being quick by using steroids or unfair means is not earning your victory but stealing it, which when detected brings more disgrace and shame than a sense of fulfillment. One American commentator Will Ferrell quips, “America is all about speed. Hot, nasty, badass speed.” Mahatama Gandhi has rightly said, “There is more to life than simply increasing its speed.” When our speed is reasonable we are in our senses and our capacity to realize and feel aesthetics and beauty in our struggle for our dreams; that is is very fulfilling. The process becomes enjoyable. It does not hurt anybody, yet we move forward. Every flower blooms at a different pace. We must choose our speed depending on our requirement and skill, and gradually hone it up to the desired level. Impatience will not help. Patience and perseverance will. The most successful men in the end are those whose success is the result of steady accretion.
3.Character of an Institution is Reflected in its Leader.
Character is the most defining attribute for a leader as well as the institution that he leads. Character is our inherent wisdom and beliefs that guide us in our actions and practices and which make our world view. If we believe in goodness, the whole world appears a beautiful place and a place for mutual coexistence to us and if we believe in the evil, the whole world appears ugly and a place with only cut throat competition. The statement character of an institution is reflected in its leader, applies the other way also, i.e., character of the leader is reflected in the character of an institution.
Leaders are made in a set up; that may be a family, a group, an institution and society at large. The motto and mission of that setting guides and propel the leaders as well as the followers in an institution. According to Mark Zuckerberg Facebook was not originally created to be a company. It was built to accomplish a social mission – to make the world more open and connected. We can see how it is reflected in his actions when he wants to connect people for personal as well as social concerns not in urban areas and cities alone, but has a plan for rural areas where communication is still poor. In his recent India visit he made his plans public. Amid all allegations of hegemony, America is a country that is guided by the principles of democracy and peace and so no American leader can turn out to be autocratic.
Leadership is the capacity and will to rally men and women to a common purpose and the character which inspires confidence. The respect that leadership must requires that one’s ethics be without question. A leader not only stays above the line between right and wrong, he stays well clear of the gray areas. Successful leadership is not about being tough or soft, sensitive or assertive, but about a set of attributes. First and foremost is character. The character of the leader blends into the blood and veins of the institution that he leads. It is the action in display at the top that guides the people working in an organization or institution. Character is the firm foundation stone upon which one must build to win respect. Just as no worthy building can be erected on a weak foundation, so no lasting reputation worthy of respect can be built on a weak character. Indian freedom struggle was led by great leaders like Mahatama Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Lokmanaya Tilak, Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel, who even today define the character and discourses of Indian democracy.
The relationship between an institution and a leader is a two way process. There are institutions or companies whose main motto is to make life beautiful and not just wield power and make profit. They aim at maximum happiness for maximum people. This does not help them just to make a separate identity or brand, but also motivate their leaders and members to act in the best possible way to achieve their motto. Tata is an outstanding Indian company that has produced several great leaders. The Ivy League Universities of the US have also produced great leaders with great values in almost all the arenas of life.
But on the other hand we have seen how leaders have made great institutions. Narayan Murthi has given birth to a unique work culture and profit sharing model. Sreedharan has shown how mammoth projects involving huge funds can be managed without any blot or blemish. Azim Premji has shown how every employee of a company is equally important as a team member. The honesty, integrity and team spirit of these leaders have given birth to new age corporate entities and work culture.
On the other side of the spectrum we see the institutions with sole motive of profit and vested interests and hidden agendas, how they have come to blind alley. Their leaders also face serious charges and blemish. Sahara and Satyam are two great stories whose leaders are today held responsible for several malfeasance and inappropriate transactions.
There is no doubt that institutions define the character of the leaders as much as the leaders define the character of the institutions.
4. Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make a man more clever devil.
Education gives awareness and information. It gives knowledge and knowledge is power. It gives skills and enables us to seek good career opportunities, livelihood, and opportunities for earning wealth, name and fame. It gives moral values and emancipates us as a human being. Education has multiple roles to play. It is ironic; however, that emancipatory role of education has given way to the utilitarian role. Education has fast become a means to learn the skills which makes us smarter at the market place rather than making a good human being. A professional, an entrepreneur, a political leader, a doctor or a teacher or whatsoever; devoid of human values all of them are just like a robot or programmed computers to accomplish certain tasks for his or her employers benefit. The purpose of education should go much beyond that. Education is not just skill and attributes needed to get money and power, it is also a means to learn and inculcate values and character that lead to changes in personal as well as social lives for betterment of life in general and for making the world a beautiful place to live.
Education helps us to understand our self interest and enables us to adopt suitable strategies to achieve our self interest. Pursuit of self interest is one of the greatest symbols of individual freedom and liberty. There is nothing to be ashamed about this. But unabashed pursuit of self interest without caring for its repercussions on others or society at large takes us to a blind alley from where there is no return and we end up like the greedy fellow of Tolstoy’s story ‘how much land does a person need’. He knew that he can own as much land as he runs through, and he ran through the whole territory of the king, only to fall down breathless and die finally.
Education leads to develop logical capacity and communication skills in us. It also helps us to devise suitable strategies to achieve our goals. But if we are not taking the lessons of emancipatory part of education, not learning moral values and not inculcating good character, education can make us devils for each other who can go to any extent in their Darwininan struggle for existence and cut throat competition for wealth and hegemony.
Stephen Covey rightly points out that for success in career, we need personality attributes but for success in life we need character attributes.
The popularity of ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’, authored by Stephen R. Covey is based on the distinction he made between the character ethic and the personality ethic. Significantly, the sub-title of this book is: ‘Restoring the character ethic’. In stark contrast, almost all the literature in the first 150 years of motivational literature or so focused on what could be called the Character Ethic as the foundation of success: things like integrity, humility, fidelity, temperance, courage, justice, patience, industry and modesty. The Character Ethic taught that there are basic principles of effective living, and that people can only experience true success and enduring happiness as they learn and integrate these principles into their basic character. But shortly after World War I the basic view of success shifted from the Character Ethic to what we might call the Personality Ethic. Success became more a function of personality, of public image, of attitudes and behaviors, skills and techniques that lubricate the processes of human interaction. This Personality Ethic essentially took two paths: one was human and public relations techniques and the other was positive mental attitude. Some of this philosophy expressed by Stephen Covey is very inspiring and sometimes he has used valid maxims such as “Your attitude determines your altitude,” “Smiling wins more friends than
frowning,” and “Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe it can achieve.” Other parts of the personality approach, however, are clearly manipulative, even deceptive, encouraging people to use techniques to get other people to like them, or to fake interest in the hobbies of others to get out of them what they wanted, or to use the “power look,” or to intimidate their way through life.
In modern life although character is considered as an important attribute for success, it does not get recognition as foundational and catalytic attribute. Reference to the Character Ethic has become mostly a lip service; the basic thrust in modern times seems on quick-fix influence techniques, power strategies, communication skills, and positive attitudes. Here lies the fault of the process of our education system, formal as well as informal. No amount of ambition and mundane success can bring fulfillment and happiness if we ignore moral values and justified means. We can bulldoze all the fellow beings who appear to us only as a competitors in pursuit of success. In such a blind pursuit we do not value fellow feeling or other people’s dreams. We are extremely focused in the pursuit of our own success and self interest with killers’ instincts.
Success at any cost is the sense and sensibility in which we live. In the process we do not remain human and become robots, which are heartless and value free. Success may come to us but at the end we are not having a sense or feeling of fulfillment. It is because of lack of values. David Starr Jordan, a leading educationist, and founding President of Stanford University, rightly points out that there is no real excellence in all this world which can be separated from right living.
Martin Luther King Jr. said that the function of education is to teach one to think intensively and critically. Intelligence plus character is the goal of true education. Education without character offers just a skill or knowledge that can be often used for maneuver, deception or thuggery. Theodore Roosvelt sarcastically said that a man who has never gone to school may steal from a freight car; but if he has a university education, he may steal the whole railroad. All white collar crimes in our times underscore the fact that it is not lack of education that leads to corruption, but lack of character. It is only when education succeeds in building character that people are able to use their powers constructively. There are educated people who are divisive, misleading and ill motivated. Many of them are against peace and harmony for promoting their narrow agenda. Some of them misuse power bestowed on them by people for personal benefits. All scams and episodes of corruption in the recent times in our country such as Coalgate, 2G scam or Satyam episode and insider trading in the US involving noted people like Rajat Gupta are evidence to human failure not because of lack of education, but because of palpable character. Good character and conviction in right principles never allow one to buckle under pressure or greed.
It is important to have an intelligent mind but far more important is to have good heart. Nelson Mandela has rightly pointed out that a good head and good heart are always a formidable combination. One can come with flying colours in toughest of endeavours with the combination of these two things; however, a good head without a good heart is very dangerous. What is the difference between a true soldier and a terrorist? A soldier gives life for his people and his country while a terrorist takes the lives of innocent people for ulterior motives. Soldier has both brain and heart, the terrorist has got only brain. Of late it has been seen that many educated people are inclined to pursue terrorism either in the name of religion or politics. The nascent upsurge in terrorism in the Middle East has seen many youths joining the terror groups and committing heinous crimes against humanity. Many of them are technically qualified and use their knowledge for making bombs and creating booby traps for civilians as well as police and army. Education with character can help the youth to understand the meaninglessness of indulging into terrorist and violent acts. Today the youth in the Islamic countries are being told by people like Abu Bakr that the greatest enemies of Islam are democracy and secularism and some others are propagating that if you give your life in violent jihad, you will get a place in heaven or jannat. These examples highlight how education can be used to propagate ideas which are not only irrational but against peace, harmony and progress. Character helps us to decipher and choose between good and bad acts while education only makes us aware about variety of acts.
No amount of teaching can impart education laden with value without the real role models who practice good values in life. Thus, far more effective in imparting values and virtues is to practice them. Life and action as they happen in our lives are better teachers. Oscar Wilde said, “Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.” When education becomes a devil’s means, how to hasten towards our selfish goals, by hook or crook, it sets in a process of begetting thousands of devils. Jim Henson rightly says, “[Kids] don’t remember what you try to teach them. They remember what you are.” Formal education, therefore, has severe limitations. It is necessary that we practice the good values which education imparts us. This becomes an example for others to follow. Although
it is an informal channel of education, it is far more effective as good values at play in real life have their immitigable imprint on the minds of youth.
Education should not make only eagles. It should also allow the dove inside us to develop that feeling of let hundred flowers bloom together or live and let live are needed to be inculcated for mutual coexistence of all of us with peace, prosperity and happiness. Machiavellian traits may be needed in certain circumstances; cunningness, maneuver and machination may win projects and fat salaries and profits but happiness and peace would come only through moral values. If we are confined only to the first set of attributes in our education it certainly makes us a devil for each other.
The real education should come with moral values and character. Nothing could open our eyes more than the letter that Abraham Lincoln wrote to the headmaster of his son in this regard:
“He will have to learn, I know that all men are not just and are not true…. In school teach him it is far more honourable to fall than to cheat….
Teach to have faith in his own ideas, even if everyone tells him he is wrong. Teach him to be gentle with gentle people and tough with tough.
Try to give my son the strength not to follow the crowd when everyone getting on the bandwagon…..
Teach him to listen to all men; but teach him also to filter all he hears on a screen of truth, and take only the good that comes through.
Teach him if you can, how to laugh when he is sad… teach him there is no shame in tears.
Teach him to scoff at cynics and to beware of too much sweetness. Teach him to sell his brawn and brain to highest bidder, but never to put a price on his heart and soul. Teach him to close his ears to howling mob… and stand and fight if thinks he is right.
Treat him gently but do not cuddle him because only the test of fire makes fine steel. Let him have the courage to be impatient… let him have the patience to be brave. Teach him always to have sublime faith in himself, because then he will have faith in humankind.
This is a big order, but see what you can do… He is such a fine little fellow my son!”
1.Technology cannot Replace Manpower.
“Modern technology has become a total phenomenon for civilization, the defining force of a new social order in which efficiency is no longer an option but a necessity imposed on all human activity.”
“If you want to plant for a year, plant corn; if you want to plant for ten years plant trees; and if you want to plant for hundred years, plant men.”
Modern age is an age of technology. Technology has led to progress of civilization. It has made human life more comfortable by giving support to each and every activity. Technology, nevertheless, is developed and applied by human beings and not the other way round. It helps us to enhance productivity, improve working conditions and quality of life by providing variety of industrial machines, household gadgets, faster modes of transport and variety of avenues for entertainment and information. It has also helped us in fighting fatal and life threatening diseases and improving health and life expectancy. The question of replacing manpower by technology comes to our mind for tackling the problem of scarcity of labour, rising wages, peculiar situations where manpower faces adverse and harsh conditions or even threats to life and also in places where high level of precision is needed. But technology cannot replace manpower. Technology can give us machines, but manpower drives the machines. Machines follow the commands that manpower gives and can be used according to the will, skill and intent of manpower. Manpower will always remain the superior power.
Although the discovery of fire or invention of wheel are the two great technological symbols that led to progress of human civilization from ancient times, the advent of modern technological age followed the industrial revolution. It was the invention of steam engine and various machines for production and modes of transport that led to material progress and improvement in the quality of life. The industrial revolution saw increase in mill production and profit of the owners of capital. Although it helped the manpower to increase productivity, it also led to deterioration in the working and living conditions of the workforce due to the greed of capitalists and exploitation of labour. In due course of time, labour force organized itself in trade unions and bargained higher wages and better living. The advent of welfare state and communism also helped to improve the plight of the labour force. Manpower became the focus of development in the post second world war period when Japan and Germany showed that efficient use of resources and technology leads to progress and prosperity. The Nobel Prize winners Arthur Lewis and Schulz have shown in their studies that development of human resources holds the key to economic growth and social progress. Mahbub- Ul Haq has rightly said that earlier we were taking care of growth so that it will take care of people; now the time has come that we take care of people, it will take care of growth.
The importance of technology increased in the world where competition for economic and military hegemony defined the new world order. The material progress of Western Europe and the United States is attributed in the first instance to their excellence in technology. To a great extent their military dominance is also due to their superiority in defense technology. But in all these processes they did not ignore their manpower. With material progress and military superiority, these societies also developed their manpower by spending huge sums of money on health, nutrition and education of their population. The actual superiority of advance nations lies in the superiority of manpower. Their man power is capable of research and development, innovation and discoveries and thus they remain ahead of world in trade, commerce, industrialization and even in military affairs.
Technology can be best developed and used only when man power is capable. Capacity creation is not about creating plants and equipment or infrastructure, but also manpower suitable for operating various systems efficiently. Shortage of manpower can impede production, poor quality of manpower lead to loss of competitiveness, dissatisfied manpower can lead to lockouts and spurt in trade unionism and even social tensions. If manpower is not developed properly, it can also throttle research and development.
Technology and manpower could be seen not as substitutes but as complements to each other. Industrialization in Japan and Korea and agricultural progress in post green revolution period in the world are examples of how technology can accelerate production and productivity. Rising incomes, however, were sustained by improving the manpower through skill formation, training and education, health and nutrition in the western countries or even in the Asian Tigers of South East and East Asia. Both are symbiotic.
India and China became independent almost about the same time. And India was ahead of China in many respects at that time. But in due course of time China succeeded in industrialization because of its focus on development of skilled manpower. Today China is the manufacturing hub of the world and now it is transforming itself from low-end technological products to high-end technological products. It is today seeing technological breakthroughs in telecommunication and mobile technologies and also its capacity for implementing difficult projects. It has developed nuclear and military technology of world standard. All because it focused on the development of manpower. Today China is the largest spender on R&D in the world. Manpower development is still the main priority when China is pursuing a policy of moderate growth and rebalancing.
India on the other hand lagged behind despite being rich in natural resources and an early advantage in many areas. India could not remove illiteracy and create skills as fast as China did. So it lagged behind in both- agriculture and industrialization as well as research and development. Pallam Raju rightly pointed out that while China succeeded in transferring nearly 150 million people from agriculture to manufacturing, we could not do so, due to lack of skilled manpower.
Technological development depends on manpower; its uses too depend on it. Productivity increases because of innovation and better use of new technology. But behind all this, there is an efficient manpower. Paul J Meyer rightly says that Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort. There is no single development, in either technology or management technique, which by itself promises even one order-of-magnitude improvement within a decade in productivity, in reliability, in simplicity. It is the education level, training, skill and dedication of manpower,
which makes it possible. Julia Gillard rightly says that our future growth relies on competitiveness and innovation, skills and productivity and these in turn rely on the education of our people.
The happiness and satisfaction of manpower is very important for increasing productivity. In the post industrial revolution phase in Europe and Post Green Revolution period in India, there appeared a tendency to substitute labour by machines due to rising wages and labour disputes. But this trend was criticized for both being inexpedient as well as anti people. Any growth in productivity should lead to rise in living standards, and this is possible by increasing employment and not by substitution of labour. Even there is a limit to substitution as machines cannot have the capacity to plan and decide beyond what is fed in their software. It has been shown by many experiments that improved payment and perquisites have a very positive effect on productivity. Employees who report receiving recognition and praise within the last seven days show increased productivity, get higher scores from customers, and have better safety records. They’re just more engaged at work. There is no exaggeration in saying that even profitability comes from loyalty, productivity, and having a character base from which to work. Human resources are at the heart of productivity and profitability. Employee loyalty begins with employer loyalty. Your employees should know that if they do the job they were hired to do with a reasonable amount of competence and efficiency, you will support them.
Technology alone is not sufficient for realizing the goals of progress and prosperity. Management is very important. This is true for both- nations as well as corporations. Management is a human act. Stephen Covey rightly says, “Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.”Technology and automation are very important for enhancing productivity and efficiency. But use of technology requires certain cautions. Bill Gates for example says, “The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.” Who will decide about an efficient operation? Manpower, and none else!
Technology is an enhancer, a facilitator, but it cannot replace manpower. The man behind an idea and the man behind the machine are very important. Technology can support, it cannot supplant. It reminds us the statement of Jack Welch, “The idea flow from the human spirit is absolutely unlimited. All you have to do is tap into that well. I don’t like to use the word efficiency. It’s creativity. It’s a belief that every person counts.” Those who devise better methods of utilizing manpower, tools, machinery, materials and facilities are making real contributions. Japan has shown the way how manpower and technology can be synchronized to be an industrial giant without local resources and now China is following suit. All the modern wars, especially Korean War show quite clearly that in major conflict manpower is as important as horsepower. Technology brings the excitement; helps look into the future, and make us brave enough to try to shape it. The whole idea is not about the choice between using or not using technology. The challenge is to use it right. One machine can do the work of fifty ordinary men. No machine can do the work of one extraordinary man. Somebody pointed out that humanity is acquiring all the right technology for all the wrong reasons. It’s supposed to be automatic, but actually you have to push the button. Manpower including the leader is very important in the use of technology for peace and prosperity. Today technology is considered to be a panacea of all the maladies, which it is not. Human discretion and vision will always remain important and so will manpower. For the time being, in the words of Albert Einstein, “It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.”
2. Crisis faced in India – Moral or Economic.
India is at cross roads. We are living in an age of aspirational India, restless to perform, achieve, and acquire everything that is good. They are brimming with new confidence that “they can do it.” They want freedom, they want higher standard of living, and they want money, power, recognition and what not! These are very legitimate desires of a growing society. However, rather than pursuing these goals with patience and perseverance, a large number of Indians have become impatient and restless; they want to have it quick and now. It is natural human desire and very legitimate to hasten towards our goals as fast as we can. But when we become too restless and fast, we do not care about the red lights and rules of the game on which modern democratic welfare states are built. We do not care about the means we adopt because we want to get success in our pursuits faster and faster. We care much about our rights but forget about our duties. The power of modern India lies in the power of its aspirations, but its restlessness has led to a moral crisis where ends matter more than means. Nobody ever asks in modern India how did you succeed, it is just sufficient to succeed by
whatever means, you are a hero. But for legal provisions, the things would have been far worse. What could be the plausible explanation of these trends, this mindset? The suppression of imperial era might give one explanation that people in free India now want to fulfill all what was not possible or allowed during those days. Also after India embraced the policy of liberalization, the pent up desires for more production and more consumption got a vent. And moreover, the demonstration effect of ‘good life’ of the western societies made possible due to spread of information technology and it has given new wings to the aspirations of the young generation. It is not always easy to segregate moral crisis from economic crisis. Economic crisis is responsible for moral crisis on the one hand and on the other moral crisis is responsible for the economic crisis. They are closely entwined. If we fall into the debate which is the leading crisis, the debate will be unending- chicken first or the egg?
India is a country marked by poverty, inequality and social and economic duality. The very structure of the country – social and economic – has the elements that can manifest in moral crisis. For example, feudalism in India might have been a better social and economic organization than slavery in the west as some people believe, but it cannot be denied that it had many immoral elements in it. The past of India has been marked by turbulence of medieval times and exploitation, especially in the imperial era. The ‘golden bird’ as India was called in the ancient times was reduced to a floundering economy with backwardness marked by low productivity in agriculture and lack of industrialization. This also led to poor quality of basic services such as health, housing and education. All these bred a sense of inferiority and insecurity. The moment India got freedom, its aspirations and expectations soared very high. It got further fillip after India embraced the New Economic Policy in 1991.
The people of India have passionately wanted to reverse the adversities bred by economic and political suppression over the past so many centuries. So there is restlessness to remove poverty and inequality, to raise living standards and to improve the records of human development and human rights. But yet there is a conflict between the national interest and individual aspirations. That insecurity and fear of the imperial era still lurks in the Indian psyche – will I get my deserved share in development? Will I get equal opportunity, a chance to pursue my dreams and well being? Will I get justice? These fears and apprehensions are the breeding ground of mistrust and moral crisis. It is aggravated further when people who do immoral acts appear to be more successful materially or even acquire political power; the aspirational India becomes prone to losing all faith in good means and values. It acts in vengeance and does everything that can make them successful, whether the rules of the country or the hearts of our other compatriots are broken, it hardly matters. That is of course a moral crisis. There is nothing between I and my goals. Everything is fair in war and love. The aspirational India is in both the modes.
There is an old debate that people are backward, because of their inherent moral inferiority or genetic inferiority. It was Gunnar Myrdal who first questioned the western thesis about racial superiority of the western powers under which they thought that Afro-Asian people are poor and underdeveloped because of their genetic and even moral inferiority and it is white man’s burden to make them civilized and prosperous. When we talk about moral crisis in India we are extending this logic even in case of India without having any concern for social and political dynamics which made many Indians poor and weak. Gunnar Myrdal offered along with many subsequent thinkers the social theory of culture of poverty to explain why poverty exists despite anti-poverty programs. There is no doubt that we must analyse how structural factors interact and conditions individual behavior to explain their persistent poverty.
To judge whether India is in moral crisis or economic crisis or both it will be interesting to note the studies made by institutional thinkers. One example is a study by Lewis. Lewis gave some seventy characteristics that indicated the presence of the culture of poverty, which he argued was not shared among all of the lower classes. The people in the culture of poverty have a strong feeling of marginality, of helplessness, of dependency, of not belonging. They are like aliens in their own country, convinced that the existing institutions do not serve their interests and needs. Along with this feeling of powerlessness, there is a widespread feeling of inferiority, of personal unworthiness also. This is true of the slum dwellers of Mexico City, who do not constitute a distinct ethnic or racial group and do not suffer from racial discrimination. In the United States the culture of poverty that exists in the African Americans has the additional disadvantage of racial discrimination. Today we in India also have marginalized classes who overact to defend their interest, sometimes they join militant or sectarian groups and sometimes they become naxalites. Although, apparently it seems a moral crisis, in deep analysis we find the root cause of the problem is marginalization and indifference of the democratic institutions to safeguard the economic, political and social rights of these people. People with a culture of poverty have very little sense of history. They are marginal people who know only their own
troubles, their own local conditions, their own neighborhood, their own way of life. Usually, they have neither the knowledge, the vision nor the ideology to see the similarities between their problems and those of others like themselves elsewhere in the world. They are desperate and they can react in an unanticipable way when it comes to their interest.
In no case, however, any behavior which is anti social or anti national can be justified. There is a close relation between marginalization and moral crisis. However, it is not difficult to cite examples when people who are rich, powerful and enjoying all comforts of life indulge in immoral and illegal activities. Crony capitalism is a term which is widely being used to explain the phenomenon of corruption in developing and emerging economies. The state machinery and corporate barons often collaborate to do things which are illegal and anti social for their own benefits. In crony capitalism, success in business depends on close relationships between business people and government officials. It may be exhibited by favoritism in the distribution of legal permits, government grants, special tax breaks, or other forms of state interventionism. Crony capitalism is believed to arise when business cronyism and related self-serving behavior by businesses or business-people spills over into politics and government, or when self-serving friendships and family ties between businessmen and the government influence the economy and society to the extent that it corrupts public-serving economic and political ideals. The term “crony capitalism” made a significant impact in the public arena as an explanation of the Asian financial crisis. It is also used to describe governmental decisions favoring “cronies” of governmental officials. This is not the manifestation of poverty, but surely a manifestation of moral crisis. Many of the corruption cases in contemporary times are the products of crony capitalism. It is therefore, apt to say that moral crisis of modern times have their seeds in economic crisis.
But this would be a partial truth to insist on this line of arguments made above. There are many aberrations in Indian life which emanate from moral crisis. The existing gender inequality and brutalization of women and employing children as labour in India are some of the examples of a crisis due to patriarchal or feudal mindset. The absence of doctors from hospitals and teachers from schools during working hours is nothing but a moral crisis. The insensitivity of the government officials in redress of the people’s grievances and police excesses towards common man is a moral crisis. Road rages are moral crisis. Excesses towards weaker sections and corruption in government offices spring from moral crisis. The disruptions in the working of democratic institutions like constitution and parliament are examples of moral crisis. Lack of good governance to a great extent is due to moral crisis, apart from inadequate institutional arrangements. Poor implementation of development and welfare programmes are indicative of inefficiency as well as moral crisis.
The discussion is, therefore, giving us two lines of thinking. One, that there is a close relation between economic crisis and moral crisis. Secondly we must also agree that moral crisis also exists without economic underpinnings in India. Therefore, the policy prescription that emanates from the discussion is that we must step up our efforts to tackle the problem of poverty, inequality and marginalization on the one hand and on the other hand work towards attitudinal changes through education and publicizing as role models the icons of ancient, medieval and modern India who are apostles of great values and morality. The battle with Indian crisis is therefore multipronged.
3. Dreams which should not let India Sleep.
Thinking about dreams which should not let India sleep is like “romancing” with India. There is so much to dream about India; so much to cherish, so much to cheer, so much to desire about it. There is so much that India has accomplished after independence dawned. India marched on the path of progress with five year planning for economic development and industrialization and a democratic constitution and polity that is guided by noble ideas enshrined in directive principles of state and promises to safeguard the fundamental rights of every Indian. India is an ancient country but a young nation and we, Indians are united and are proud of their rich culture and rich heritage, proud of secular democracy, proud of its vastness, its diversity and proud of its rivers, mountains, plains, plateaus and deserts. But all these matters which make them proud cannot help them to look away from some of the bitter realities that peep into the eyes and hearts of all Indians who can discern and feel the agonies of starving poor, malnourished, ill-fed and out-of-school children, unemployed youth, brutalized and chained women, villages without basic amenities like roads, power, schools, hospitals, farmers in distress and labour working and living in inhuman conditions, government run schools and hospitals in cities without basic facilities, people in power misusing their power and siphoning of development money for personal rather than public benefit.
The eluding tryst with destiny that the first Prime Minister of India promised when India awoke to freedom at the stroke of midnight shatters our hearts and frustrates our hopes – the failings are from both the sides, our leaders as well as people! The night that was supposed to be short lived seems unending and continues like a nightmare for many Indians, begetting a sense of deception. They wonder if there is ever a possibility of a dawn of peace, prosperity, happiness and progress as promised by our great leaders. Yes, there are unfulfilled dreams that should not allow India to sleep. The words of Robert Frost, which are said to have been jotted down by our Prime Minister in his diary before his death, continue to stir and jolt us – “The Woods are lovely dark and deep; I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep”…. However, the moot question is – which dreams should not allow India to sleep?
There are two Indias and hence two sets of dreams. One that is euphemistically called ‘India’ which is aspiring for material progress and living standards matching that of the Western countries. It is the aspirational India which is in haste and thinking about ‘more’ and ‘better’ of everything that is good. This India is filled with the confidence and hope that ‘we can do it’. It wants acceleration in economic growth rate through industrialization, state of the art infrastructure, research and development, global integration- all aiming at enhancing production, productivity and material progress making India a super power, restoring the lost glory of the ‘golden bird’ as India was called in the past.
On the other side there are Indians who feel that their claim to independence had been held hostage, that their survival, dignity and freedom is at stake and every fleeting moment is a moment of insecurity and hopelessness. This is euphemistically referred to as ‘Bharat’ which still awaits the fruits of development to trickle down so that they can have two square meals a day, a roof on their heads, clothes to wrap themselves up and basic amenities of life that keep them surviving and going. Freedom came to them on crutches and they look back to Mahatma Gandhi every time they face adversity, injustice, exploitation. Mahatma Gandhi, on board SS Rajput on his way to Round Table Conference had said, “I would work for an India, in which the poorest shall feel that it is their country…; an India in which there shall be no high class and no low class of people; an India where all communities will live in a perfect harmony….Women will enjoy the same rights as men. We shall be at peace with all the rest of the world.”
The apparent dilemma in dreaming for India reflects our ignorance. There is apparent contradiction in the dreams of India and Bharat, which in reality is not so. India needs to grow economically and it needs rapid industrialization as well as agricultural growth. India needs modern infrastructure and facilities for Research and Development. India needs to be integrated with the world. India needs to explore and exploit the immense potential it has to be a global power. This is what aspirational India wants. But until and unless the potential and energy of the vast masses in India is unleashed and they are empowered to take part in India’s great journey to development, power and glory, we can never be able to give a big push to our dreams. A critical minimum effort is needed to take along those Indians who lagged behind in our development journey. If one part of the body is in pain, the other part cannot live in peace and comfort. There is really no dilemma. India is one nation bound by shared dreams of peace, prosperity and progress. If growth and development is thwarted, welfare of the poor and the miserable cannot be taken care of Growth and development will also never be achieved up to the full potential that India has by keeping the vast masses suffering.
The dreams which should not let India sleep can be seen in the above mentioned perspective. Some of the dreams that need to be cherished and pursued in the right earnest by all the Indians can be enlisted. As Gandhiji felt we should also dream of India where there will be no inequality, poverty, social injustice, illiteracy, gender discrimination, social oppression, corruption, casteism and communalism and people will have an improved and good quality of life.
One Indian nation with a shared dream of excellence in all the arenas of life made possible by participation of all the Indians is a dream that should not let us sleep till it is realized. National Unity or Integrity of India is extremely important. India should be united in its journey towards progress and glory. This is the area where we have achieved immense success, but still there are divisive tendencies. We are able to strengthen India as a nation by strengthening the Indian unity politically, economically and emotionally and pushing forward the process of nation-in-the-making. However, we still suffer from the social diseases of casteism, communalism and regionalism. We need to work proactively to eliminate these evils of our society. Regionalism is a serious threat that has recently taken an ugly shape. People resort to regionalism citing the difference of their cultures from others. They demand for separate states or ouster of so-called outsiders from their respective states- for example, recent demand for a separate state of Telangana and Maharashtra Nav-nirman Sena’s (MNS) anti-North Indian stand. India needs to consider measures that can eradicate these maladies.
It should explore the possibilities of factoring in other factors than language to carve out new states; it should consider banning the divisive political parties at regional or caste or religious basis, it should pursue uniform civil code without forcing it. It is necessary that all the anti-Nation thoughts and undercurrents should be curbed. The centrifugal forces in the Indian society should be tamed and unity and integrity of the country should be safeguarded at any cost. Who lives when India dies and who dies when India lives!
Another area where we need to dream and act in right earnest, is the malady of poverty and starvation. India’s one third of population is poor and half the children and women are malnourished. In over seventy years, India has failed to eradicate poverty despite consistent economic growth. In the early sixties, Planning Commission came up with a concept of Poverty Line. Below this line were people whose consumption of food-grains did not come up to a minimum level in terms of calories. We need innovative methods and real concern to alleviate these maladies. Indian society is dualistic in nature and the spectrum of Indian society has an upper layer which has a living standard comparable with the developed nations, but on the other side of the spectrum are the people who are as deprived as we find in the most backward regions of the world. There are reports of starvation deaths from various parts of the country. We should dream of an India which has no households without food and where there is no inequality in terms of basic amenities and services. This is a precious dream and we should work ardently to achieve this.
India should stand at the top of Human Development Index. A dream of all dreams, it should not let us sleep! The poor quality of life aggravates the plight of already poor Indians. The physical and social needs of teeming millions of India have not been met even at minimally desired level. Whatever progress has been made in this respect has been tardy and inadequate. India’s HDI value for 2013 is 0.586, ranking it 135 out of 187 countries and territories, the lowest among the BRICS countries with Russia at 57, Brazil at 79, China at 91, and South Africa at 118, and slightly ahead of Bangladesh and Pakistan. India also ranks low with respect to the Gender Development Index (GDI). The GDI value for India is 0.828 and it is ranked 132 among 148 nations. In comparison, Bangladesh and China are ranked higher. India still remains a laggard. From 2004-05 to 2011-12, India’s poverty ratio dipped from 37.2% to 21.9%, a 16 percentage point drop. But in terms of human development index – measured on the basis of health, education, and standard of living – and gender equality, India still has a long way to go, trailing behind other emerging economies and even some of its neighbours. We lack in literacy. Illiteracy is rampant. More than 20 per cent of Indian population is illiterate and illiteracy is more rampant among women. If there is one dream that should keep India awoke, that is, achieve 100 per cent literacy.
Health is a major area of concern too. India needs improvement in terms of sanitation, potable drinking water and proper healthcare facilities at village-level. Preventive health care should be available by ensuring this. There should be no polio stricken child or no incidence of water born diseases among Indians. Every Indian having access to curative health care at affordable price will be a great symbol of a welfare state. That food and nutrition is adequate to keep our women, men and children in good health is a dream which should not let India sleep.
The dream that never ever any Nirbhaya is brutalized again will symbolize a modern and progressive India where patriarchal society stops doing khap panchayats and our daughters and sisters walk fearless and with dignity in the pursuit of their dreams. That girls would also be able to look after their parents in the absence or presence of their brothers and give fire to their departing fathers after death and widows could also participate in happy occasions of life is a dream that should not let India sleep.
Another dream that should not let India sleep is full and productive employment to the working population of India. Let us dream of India where there will be jobs available in each city and people will not have to migrate to other cities. This will also reduce the burden on the resources of the cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, etc. Employment is one of the most important factors that can lead to radical change in the standard and quality of life. Though with the advent of I.T., jobs have increased but these are concentrated in few cities like Bangalore, Delhi, Pune, Hyderabad, etc. while other cities either have no employment opportunities or the demand is very low. Also, it is an irony that a Mechanical or Electrical engineering student has to work in the field of IT because opportunities are very few in the core sectors. This internal brain drain leads to mismatch between demand and supply of labour force affecting growth and development.
India is an emerging economy. Infrastructure deficit is a major impediment in India’s economic progress. The dream of fully developed infrastructure should not let us sleep. We need world class roads, railway, ports, airports and uninterrupted power supply and telecommunication that is cheap, fast and reliable. All these are important to improve the productivity and quality of life of the Indians. Better infrastructure promotes
industrialization, trade and commerce on the one hand and improves the quality of life. For example better supply of electricity will positively impact production and transport and also the quality of life of masses as most modern goods that make life easier and entertainment readily available need electricity like TV, washing machines, radio, refrigerator, etc. Consumption of Power is directly proportional to the Quality of Life and every Indian often dream of a time when India would be able to generate so much energy that, like US citizens, Indians will face no power-cuts.
Another dream that should not let us sleep is the realization of benchmarks of good governance. India should become a corruption free country where there is utmost transparency and accountability in all the institutions and activities. The realization of all our dreams depends crucially on good governance. Transparency and accountability would stop the misuse of public funds. People will get their genuine grievances redressed within a given time frame. The development projects would meet their time schedules. Various welfare programmes would be implemented faster and without any loopholes.
Indians should stand up together in respect of constitution, rule of the law and comply with various rules and regulations. This is a dream that should not let us sleep. In a densely populated country where more than a billion people are pursuing their dreams with all their might needs discipline and care for the institutions and their rules. Otherwise the country will turn into a jungle and life into a chaos.
No doubt we still have ‘promises to keep and miles to go…’ We still face the challenges of poverty, diseases, illiteracy, inequality, social backwardness and gender and caste discrimination and oppression. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said that daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward; they may be beaten, but they may start a winning game.
There is no ground for pessimism or resignation, for frustration or lack of pride. India has impressive achievements to its credit in the economic and political arena. The major reason for our optimism lies in our belief that a vibrant democracy like India can find the solutions for these problems. William Dement said, “Dreaming permits each and every one of us to be quietly and safely insane every night of our lives.” He says that sometimes this insanity can be fruitful and sometimes very infectious and sometimes very delectable and delicious. It is in many ways necessary for a country like India to be insane and dream as it is a bigger crime not to dream than to dare to dream. Israelmore Ayivor rightly says, “Until you get enough of enough, the “enough” that is never enough, you dare not quit! If your good is better, your better can be best; your best too can become excellent!” Dreams may be tough. The roads may be rocky. The journey may be arduous. But all these risks are worth taking as in the words of Kahlil Gibran ‘trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.’
4. Can Capitalism bring Inclusive growth?
Capitalism is the economic system which has endured many ups and downs because of its many inherent properties. It is based on the liberal ideals of post renaissance Europe and later on it was further strengthened by democratic movements, especially in the United States and France, among others. Capitalism is about freedom of enterprise. It is about consumers’ sovereignty. It is about decentralization of power. It is about laissez fair and market mechanism. It is, therefore, much closer to democratic ideals. Although capitalism is considered very efficient in production and consumption, it is not considered just and fair when it comes to distribution of development and economic growth. The system is based on a system of production in which some people who have ownership over capital hire labour on market wages to produce commodities of use whose prices are determined by the market forces. Your purchasing capacity determines what and how much you are capable to consume. But there are occasions when markets are imperfect, when market fails and when people are unable to exercise their choices due to many non-freedoms or lack of entitlements. Capitalism presumes a perfect market, which is nonexistent. Capitalism assumes equal opportunities, which does not exist because of many socio-economic and political dynamics at work. Capitalism in its purest sense is inclusive, but we cannot rule out imperfections that hinder inclusiveness. Capitalism is based on self interest and animal instincts. Its rationality lies in maximizing profit and consumption. And probably this one inherent logic of capitalism, among others, which leads to inequality over a period of time.