Onus of National Growth
I was just going through my normal routine of surfing channels 1 in the morning when I came across this debate on BBC about the Millennium Target 2015 which was to do with who is accountable for the international drive for improving world economy by getting rid of poverty – a drive initiated by UN with a 10-year target.
The drive targets to remove poverty, improve literacy, education, health and governance across all member countries. The debate went around to a point where a question was raised whom to blame if targets aren’t met and who should stand accountable for meeting the goals of this or for that matter any other targets or goals which are of global social and economic significance. The audience attending the debate voted for the following in the same order –
Governances of poor nations.
Governances of rich nations.
Somehow, I feel they missed a trick which was apparently raised in the middle of the debate by a guest whose first name was Salil. The problem he brought to notice was the ignorance of the trailing communities about their rights. This is something I totally agree to and I guess the panel missed out on a very important party to this issue whose accountability I couldn't ignore - myself being a part of it.
When I look at the current development in my own country, India, I figure that there is surely a segment of population who are doing fairly well then they were ever before. Just to cite an example, it would have been a dream for a 20-something 6 to 8 years ago to write the same thoughts on his notebook. Yes, due to the revolutionary industrial growth take has taken place in India in the last decade or so, the middle class has gone to another level and has now access to the amenities and technologies that only the upper class had been privileged to and this is the segment of population who needs to realize their social responsibilities beyond paying taxes.
The emphasis of this segment seems to be, indeed, is towards making bigger money every year and taking their own life from comfortable to luxurious. However, the point that we people miss out on is that our lives begin on our priorities and finish on our aspirations and desires and we just don't go anywhere beyond it. It's nothing wrong with dreaming big and aspiring to ride the allexpensive bikes and other stuff you always desired of but we also need to understand that being in the comfort zone segment of society, we also carry a social responsibility to contribute to the governance of the society, the nation we live in.
The people in the developing nations, from poor to rich, either don't bother spending their thoughts on the governance of the nation they live or just crib about it blaming the governance and bureaucrats for being corrupt and not capable enough to run the state. None of us, ever, tries to put ourselves in the same shoes. I agree to an extent that corruption does exist in our nations. The primary reason for this is that necessities take a big priority over other things for the people of the developing and underdeveloped countries, money being a big part of it and because the governing authorities come from the same population, therefore, the priorities are inherited. There has been corruption in all public departments in these nations; however, I disagree to the notion that all the governing authorities are doing is getting involved in such deeds. We have had a few ruling party changes over the last decade and a half, however, all these governments, despite being equally involved in making their own future financially secure, have been much more visionary than any of the earlier governments. This has been a big reason for the progress we have seen in the stock market and the betterment we have seen in the life styles of the middle income group. The government has opened their arms for the foreign companies to invest in India and has re-considered few of their policies to make it attractive and easier for not only the multinationals but also the companies growing within the country. This move from the recent governments has been highly appreciable.
Coming back to the comfort zone segment, these people can contribute the most to the betterment of the society and, eventually, to the goals of the developing nations to get over the basic issues in more ways than one. This segment would be the best ambassador of any social regimes that have to take place. These are the people that have become trend setters in the society now instead of the all-so-rich celebrities. Just checking on the conversations that happen about the idols in society today, more examples are cited about the guys who are doing well in their careers in the industry or business than the earlier examples of the rich dudes and the celebrities who are making merry. This has been a good change for the society as a whole, no offence meant to the celebrities. Being the trend setters and the idols in the society, these people hold the power to put the rest of the masses to the path they want to and that is where there role comes in i.e. to set the masses on the track of economic and social growth by setting an example for it. This involves being a lot more conscious about the career decisions we make and not letting the personal (financial or otherwise) benefits drive our decisions, hence, setting good examples for all the segments in society as well as the younger generations. Another thing this segment can do is to help out governance in making the trailing segments of the society aware of the issues we have and the rights they have. They must know what they are entitled to from the governance and the society and who can they hold accountable for any violations. This would lead to a society that would be governed by the people and would also make sure, in future, that the right people are elected to govern the state. For this awareness to happen, it has to start from the young people who are in the segment who is doing well or what I call as the Comfort Zone segment and it would surely be spread across.
The eventual accountability still lies with the state governance - the leaders of the nations and the authorities at all levels. As I mentioned earlier, although the recent governments have been visionary to an extent but they have not learnt from the past experiences and are starting to get more and more stagnant in their vision and policies - whether or not they are aware of this. Just a few years ago, we had a slump in the sector that's been one of the success reasons for our nation in the last decade or so - the IT sector. We did come out of it well but we might have missed a lesson here. Why did this happen, and what are the chances that it might happen again? And is it as much threat to the developed countries as it is to us? The answer lies, in my opinion, in a simple observation that I made. Its quite apparent that IT in India has a big dependency of the service sector i.e. the projects we get from other industrial sectors and the funny thing is that the service companies in India have concentrated more on export i.e. providing these services to the foreign clients than the ample opportunities that lie within the nation partly because of the nation's policies which encourage export as well. So, in case of a similar slump as we had earlier in which case we might see a number of projects pulled back from India and pushed in some other country's economy because of the cost factor or a change in foreign policies of India or other countries. This is not something that depends solely on the business competition we face but a lot of other factors as well. This would surely affect the business in our nation but would that kind of slump occur in western nations. I don't think so. If we look at IT sector in west, it's apparent that there are a number of businesses which are involved in work other than providing business solutions and services. Now, a business in which you are selling products is a lot less prone to such slumps than the services sector - as far as IT is concerned. Any such slump won't bring down Microsoft unless all computers in the world deny working with Windows. This is something which either is not being envisioned by our governing authorities or they haven't come up with a plan for this. So, my opinion is that the governance needs to be a little bit more farsighted and ready for the worst case scenarios. Continuing on their role towards the industry, governance should be encouraging ideas and business plans in any sector both in small scale and large. In fact, having a channel of communication from the public to the minds of the government would be a great idea. This could be just an email address or a public forum closely monitored by the authorities. This would make it easier for the brains of the industry to put forward their ideas and suggestions to the governance and can build good synergy between the governance and the industry.
Other than industry, the governance also needs to work on the betterment of the processes for various social drives like literacy or education, health awareness, other awareness programmes and providing amenities to all sectors. We do have processes for these in place but due to the diversity and size of our nation, most of the effort is spent on dividing the funds for the issues than to execute them. Agriculture is definitely in the thick of things in India and there are existing policies at central and state level to provide amenities to the sector. However, if education is promoted in rural India along with awareness of better agricultural techniques, we have the caliber of having a much richer and prosperous rural India. We have had a literacy drive for a while which has definitely improved on the primary education in almost all corners of the country. We need to make sure that more of the primary educated kids go through to high school and college which would make them more aware of the social, national and international issues and provide them a better foundation to improve the production in the agricultural sector as well as the small scale industries related to it. To make sure that this actually gets executed, the governance needs to get along with the Comfort Zone segment to take this spirit across to all parts of the nation and implement it.
Concluding, the accountability of achieving social and national goals of becoming a developed country, getting rid of issues like poverty, providing amenities like medical facilities lies in the hands of all level of governance, however, its requires an active participation from all the segments of the society to be lead by the youngsters like us by setting good examples and helping society make sure that all segment of society as taken along on the road of progress.