Preparing society for global leadership

Ram Rattan Sharma
A rapidly changing society demands us to choose from a set of alternatives and be part of the change. Every choice we make can be a celebration of the world. We want the story of human progress is replete with instances of a decision being taken from the alternatives at hand, which changed the way we interacted, the way we were governed and more importantly the way we lived. Hence , while studying the past we get glimpses of the role of global leadership in defining the course of history. In the 21st century the need for responsible decision making assumes greater significance than ever before, since the fight for resources has become fiercer than ever. There is a need to bring all the concerned parties on a negotiating platform to amicably resolve disputes. India’s politics there by throws open a discussion over the role India can play as a leader and the preparedness of it’s society for such a role. Modern day interactions between nations provide unique opportunities and challenges simultaneously, which needs a balanced and multilateral approach towards progress. The societies and cultures are so intertwined, that a seemingly undimensional decision can have multidimensional and global ramifications. Never before in the history of mankind there has been such aggressive competition for resources as has been witnessed in the last hundred years. Stephen Hawking a noted physicist and a remarkable thinker has commented on the confrontationist environment of today citing the example of the cuban missile crisis. He is of the view that unless appropriately regulated with mutual understanding, the rate for greater access to resources for fuelling growth is unsustainable and might probably endanger our very existence. His wisdom definitely points us towards a mature leadership and warns us of the dangers of a unipolar world. At the heart of this competition lie the problems succinctly described by the United Nations Development Goals (2000) namely poverty, food insecurity, human rights, child labour, health etc. The severity of these issues brings the developed, the developing and the under developed countries to common negotiating platforms like G-20, NAM,G-77 and many more. These forums need commitment towards action and in the right direction. Preparedness of a society towards decisions which are not in exclusion of co-existing societies depends on its level self-sufficiency and the extent to which it sees the situation as affecting others in quite similar proportions as itself. Self- sufficiency is required so that it is capable of bringing about the desired change and it should not be confused with huge money, since the times of one sided approach are gone and a step forward together is better than two steps alone.India as a nation has stood for a middle path approach in many its internal and foreign matters. This is a reflection of the values of Indian system. India is the Land of Buddha who thought that it wise to avoid the extremes and follow a middle path instead which combines the advantages while reducing the disadvantages of either sides. Our policies have rejected outright liberation and strict regulation equally. India, hence an advocate of gradual changes in the positive direction is well appreciated by different power regimes in the world. Its secular and democratic image also works in its favour in convincing the world leaders. Its political stand finds due weight and consideration as its views are representative of the interests and right of the weak with the progressive outlook.
India’s role in climate change talks to reach an acceptable solution highlights the importance given to India’s leadership and not surprisingly, it is playing the role effectively. The current global trend is towards ‘cosmopolitanism’. The scientific and technological advancements have brought different identities closer. Even a silent twitter campaign raised the emotions of many around the world towards Iran’s revolutionary struggle. People are interacting across boundaries and becoming aware of the changes taking place in each other’s environment. The emergence of multi-ethnic global village can be seen as an extension of India’s richly diverse society. India has witnessed stages of integration and conflicts in the past. Its people have witnessed the consequences of constructive and destructive forces being manipulated by leaders. There is a general consensus over the necessity of an all pervasive leadership which definitely shows India’s participation in global affairs, where it is seen as a promoter and protector of cultural heritage. However, the diversity has also eluded a truly integrated Indian society and communal riots, caste based violence do surface. This puts a question mark over India’s image as a potent force to bring about change when it is itself feeling the heat of friction. Indian democracy has become a playground of identity based politics, where its struggle towards development is manipulated as a zero-sum game there by hampering our growth towards a mature democracy. But such a situation should be viewed as an inevitable challenge of developing society and not as a doubt over the responsible attitude India has forever displayed in global affairs, where Indian people have stood together for a just and equitable distribution of resources. It is true that today economic imperatives govern the choices we make, be it personal, national or supranational level. Economic growth is seen as a synonym of development of a society. India’s impressive economic growth in the past two decades has been a source of inspiration for many developing economies, while the developed economies find India as a lucrative market. It is in this background that its role as a leader in economic decisions needs to be seen. No wonder India’s voting rights have increased in the monetary policy making bodies of the world. Further, there are talks of India’s permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council, the most powerful body in the world. But the down side of the accelerated growth has been that on one side global presence of Indian dispora is getting significant. On the other the benefits of economic expansion have not penetrated uniformly in our society. Thus, the divide between the rich and the poor, the powerful and the weak have increased. Such economic disparities lead to frustration in the society and internal disturbance becomes widespread. To add to it, globalization and liberalization has also brought about out a growing nexus between the politicians – bureaucrats -industrialists. Corruption, maladministration, insensitivity towards opinion of the poor and muscle power in running of the system find greater opportunities in such an environment. Some of these outcomes are also the result of the reckless exploitation in the past, but the need to evolve the society towards a just set up, where the disadvantaged find voice and feel themselves to be beneficiary of the growth machinery is absolutely necessary. Though the policies we frame are broad in outlook, but their successful implementation needs the society to get rid of traditional and parochial values. Hence economic growth, whose benefits are diversified socially, has dual benefits of strengthening using the system internally and sustaining the growth itself.India has come far since Independence. The present maladies in our society are also visible globally. Since the most realistic solutions can be found in consultation with those who face the problems, India stands at a higher pedestal in global leadership as the ingredients of our society are in congruence with the emerging global scenario. India’s success story in many aspects of development offers hope to many nation states. Indian society has also evolved and is changing from merely representative to participative. The changes in pol arena are remarkable. The governmental efforts and of non state institutions are directed towards empowerment of the masses. There have been truly commendable legislations in past few years that are uniquely equipped to tackle India’s perennial issues of employment, education and health. All these developments have made India stand on the same platform as some of the developed economies. Though the challenges are many more to be taken care of, time is ripe and India’s capability is appropriate to assert itself globally.
Finally, we must realize that a higher society is built over a higher purpose. A higher purpose automatically translates into good governance and peaceful relations with other societies. India has played a dominant role in the past and is poised to show dominance in the future as well. India was a centre of cultural, economic, technological and spiritual exchanges in the past. The need for a balancing and neutral stand point makes India also the hope for a secure future. Unless some grave concerns plaguing our society are addressed, India may find itself restricted in bargaining for itself a just share of global opportunities. For this, we have to work together in a holistic manner so that growth is made more meaningful. The potential is there to involve itself as a global leader which can be adequately summarized in the words of Rabindranath Tagore, ” I have loved India and sought to serve her not because of her geographical magnitude, not because of her great past, but because of my faith in her today and my belief that she will stand for truth and freedom and higher things of life.”
(The author is Former Dy. Librarian University of Jammu)