Evalueserve is Knowledge Partner of the
for the Future
Terrorism and conflict dominate the political landscape of most countries
around the world. From Nepal to Columbia and from the Parisian suburbs
to the streets of Grozny, Chechnya, differences between people and their
opinion have transformed into bloody conflicts.
These conflicts originate mainly because of intolerance and a lack of
commitment to a peaceful resolution of differences. Such a commitment
to peace and progress through dialogue has to be brought about by restoring
public faith in the immense potential of human values and dialogue as
the means to resolving differences.
Values form the core of any individual. Application of these values
results in development of ideas, formation of opinions and establishment
of beliefs, influencing relationships with surroundings and one's kind.
These values inspire an individual to be virtuous as well as to be imaginative
and inventive in his or her approach, leading to advancement.
Dialogue and Conflict
A continuous interaction between the values of an individual and those
of other members of society gives rise to the collective thought of
society. This continuous dialogue on values and collective thought
processes is the fundamental mode of their evolution. Evolution thus reinvents
these values and thought processes to make them relevant for their subscribers
as the times change. This dialogue is essential to the progress of humanity.
According to Amartya Sen, Nobel laureate professor of economics and philosophy
at Harvard University, from his book The Argumentative Indian,
it is due to the tradition of open argument and public dialogue that India
has been able to create a plural society with many religions co-existing
and flourishing. In fact, this argumentative tradition has contributed
to cementing the integrity of this vast and diverse nation.
The halt of the dialogue amongst thought processes leads to a lack of
mutual understanding amongst people and consequently, significantly increases
the risk of conflict between the subscribers of different thought processes.
This establishes the necessity of dialogue as the fundamental mode to
avoid conflict. At this juncture, it is important to note that conflicts
that continued for years, such as the struggle for abolition of apartheid
in South Africa and the struggle for India's liberation from the British
Empire, were resolved through dialogue and peaceful means. It is also
important to note that in both these struggles, armed conflicts, in form
riots or wars, did not result in any significant progress.
The Role of Faith
Faith is a result of the comfort that an individual finds from a relative
certitude displayed by kin and surroundings. Faith promotes greater interdependence
amongst people. In return for this peace of mind and sense of security,
the individual aspires to be more responsible and useful to those whom
he depends on.
As a result, faith establishes bonhomie amongst people and facilitates
the continuous dialogue process, which is essential for evolution of their
values and thought. Also, faith ensures civility by reposing the trust
of people in society, authorities and governments. This establishes faith
as a fundamental ingredient in maintaining peace and harmony and
as a driver of human progress.
It is an innate need of an individual to communicate and to be understood.
This necessitates proper avenues where he can express himself as well
as an audience that is willing to understand and appreciate his or her
views. A lack of such forums, leads to marginalization of people, leaving
an individual dissatisfied and frustrated. Such a situation may force
them to resort to violence in order to make themselves heard.
In order to understand an individual completely, a complete understanding
of different facets of this person's life is important. Identity should
not be ascribed to only profession, religion, ethnicity or nationality.
In fact, such a reduction of one's identity also leads to marginalization.
Often, discrimination is a result of their identification with a certain
religion and not with their identities as teachers, engineers, parents,
students or scientists etc. This highlights the importance of plural
identities of people. Understanding plural identities is key to keeping
away dissatisfaction and hopelessness and thereby ensuring peace and progress.
Leadership and Progress
In order to resolve the wars and conflicts in the world today, bold decisions
need to be taken on several issues, ranging from nuclear non-proliferation
to environment, from street crime to religious freedom. A creative and
pragmatic stewardship is very important to handle these issues and resolve
them with the agreement of all concerned. Such leadership will not only
have to find solutions to the problems of the present, but will have to
think beyond to address the problems of the future; these leader will
be fountainheads of ideas.
Umpteen examples of phenomenal leadership are buried in the annals of
history. The role and the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi in the Indian
freedom struggle is one such example. Till the rise of Gandhi's movement
against the colonial rule of the British, except the US, no colony had
liberated itself. The methods chosen by the Americans were that of armed
struggle and wars, but what Gandhi was going to propose was revolutionary.
His choice of passive non-violence as an aggressive posturing to achieve
an independent peaceful India was result of his foresight that a civil
and peaceful society cannot be founded on bloody wars. His realization
that the disunity and lack of self-esteem amongst Indians is the major
cause of India's continues subjugation to the British rule. These were
the targets of his movement. He never preached hatred towards the British.
By liberating India, he not only ended two centuries of British rule but
also gave the world an example of what peaceful means can achieve.
The leadership of Rev. Martin Luther King of the civil rights campaign
in the US is also exemplary. His commitment to achieve equal rights for
the African Americans through peaceful protests achieved more for his
cause than violent racial riots. Also to be noted is his urge to integrate
his followers with American society; he did not preach any revenge or
retribution of any section of society to achieve his goal.
A last example is of Dr. Mohammed Yunus, the founder of Grameen
Bank, a microfinance organization in Bangladesh. His diagnosis that
the cycle of poverty is vicious because the poor do not have the facilities
to save any portion of their earnings revolutionized the approach to the
issue of mass poverty. He conceptualized and executed a plan to extend
financial and banking facilities to the poor led to the dramatic alleviation
of their economic standard.
The sheer novelty of the ideas of such leaders not only addresses the
issues at hand and but gives the world a new perspective to address issues
of the future. The outmoded ways of leadership, of securing selfish interests
and of exploiting public sentiments, should be relinquished. The new age
leaders must look forward to lead the global thought rather than leading
only a particular country or a section of society.
A greater integration of world's peoples is an imperative for further
progress of mankind. A pre-requisite for such integration is maturity
in the global thought process that helps the mankind to move beyond the
differences and focus on the synergies. Global thought needs to be led
in a direction where we learn to value each individual, give him chance
to flourish and resolve our difference with mutual respect and amity.
The path to such a level of maturity would come through faith, understanding,
compassion, persistence and at last, courageous leadership.