It comes as no big surprise to me to learn that many in the country, (especially the youth and the common man) feel that there is a need for a social revolt. In fact the recent spates of crimes and cases of corruption have further added weight to these steadily-growing opinions. It is not going to be easy for political parties to hoodwink the people by merely making tall promises. Government decisions; big or small are being increasingly challenged and questioned by the people. In some cases we have also seen strong public dissent. Take the case of Jan Lokpal Bill – no one in their wildest imagination thought that the movement would gain so much support, nationwide. The Government was caught unawares when they first ignored and later gave a lukewarm response to the Anna movement till they were forced by the wide scale protests to take serious note of the nation’s sentiments. The unfortunate Nirbhaya case and several other such widely condemned incidents have starkly brought into focus the fact that people of the country are tired of social degeneration and increase in crime and corruption in the nation. They demand action. Most of us are blaming it all on bad Governance, inefficient bureaucracy and lack of political will to work for the betterment of the nation. But is the Government only to be blamed? Can the Government change the way Indian society regards and treats its weak, marginalized and excluded population? Who is responsible for juveniles resorting to committing horrific crimes? What needs to be done to stop such terrible incidences as witnessed in recent times?
Personally I feel that we need to reorganize ourselves as a society. We need to transform at a fundamental level and alter the way we individually and collectively think as to what is good or bad for us as a society? We need to impartially take a re-look at the dominant social values, mindsets and beliefs and their relevance in current times.
To bring about a social change it is important to focus on –
Building an educated, caring and a disciplined society – Force, pressure or control cannot be a long term solution in bringing about long lasting change in the society. What is required is to change the way we think about ourselves and others. Knowledge plays a very important role in understanding and widening one’s perspective and becoming flexible about different world views. Education is the only tool for real social change. Also, education is not only school learning. Children equally learn things from their home environment. Caring for others is something that can be inculcated at a very young age in the children. Also when I use the term ‘discipline’ I mean a person who is naturally capable of thinking and doing things which would not hurt or cause disturbance to other members of the society. A person who is empathetic in his approach. This attribute too has to be nurtured from very young age and can be easily accomplished by educated and aware parents. In fact the parents need to set examples for their children through their actions. However, it is also important to have proper laws and rules in place to ensure order and peace in the country. In that respect it is vital that these laws (some of which may need a re look or be changed) are properly scrutinized, justified and strictly implemented without any discrimination.
Change Patriarchal mindsets – Now this is easier said than done. For ages we have been a male dominated society. Changing that mindset is a humongous task. But we want change. So we must become a part of that change. Why not start with ourselves? Why not practice it in our own homes first? Say no to any form of discrimination between boys and girls. As parents/guardians we must provide an enabling environment for our boys as well as girls. We have to ensure that our girls get the same opportunities and choices in their lives as the boys of the family. And as responsible citizens it is upon us again to spread awareness about being gender neutral and regarding women as strong, capable and equal contributing members of the society. This form of invisible revolution would have better and long term impact on the society’s mindset than any short term public uprising.
Sexual freedom – This topic has been under the carpet for far too long. Despite being the country where the ancient treatise Kama Sutra was written some two thousand years ago…and despite the fact that ours is one of the most populous countries in the world, we as a society are embarrassed and ashamed of freely expressing our own sexual needs and desires so much so we don’t even want to be seen or heard discussing about it in public. Also we either evade talking about it with our children or tell them it is something ‘gunda’ or dirty. This is quite harmful as children want to know the ‘hows’ and ‘whys’ of it. When they don’t get satisfactory answers they resort to wrong ways. And isn’t sexuality a natural expression of human sexual nature between two consenting adults? In fact, it is the central aspect of human existence. It makes people feel happy and worthwhile. We hardly see men and women discussing sex as they would discuss politics. And thanks to the patriarchal mindsets men are still let off easily even if they are in the wrong but the women are made to face the brunt of any sexual offence. And they are the ones who under no circumstances are allowed to express their desires. We need to urgently change our attitudes towards the way we think about sex. People need to articulate their thoughts and freely express themselves without being stigmatized for it. Most of all sex education must become a part of the course curriculum in schools. Unless this is done we will not be able to stop the countless horrendous acts of sexual violence which we have witnessed/ heard about in recent time.
Cultural Tolerance and human values – Propagating cultural tolerance and human values, may sound strange as India has always been a tolerant society. We still are. But somewhere the erosion has started. Somewhere we have started degenerating as a society. It is more apparent in recent times. Maybe extreme consumerism and highly aspirational lifestyles needs to be blamed. Or maybe the politicians play a negative role and in order to fulfill their selfish gains they not only resort to corruption but also make a mountain out of molehill of an issue and forget that their first allegiance is towards the nation as a whole. And probably media is also to be blamed for its irresponsible projection of negative news which further escalates and complicates an already bad situation and negatively impacts the viewers. For example in the recent Delhi gang rape case the lawyers of the convicts were given undue attention distracting and exciting the public and consequently the lawyers got some free publicity and airtime to their benefit while the case suffered.
Zero tolerance for corruption – Sad but the truth is corruption has been institutionalized in the country. From small vendors to big corporate houses it is so common that people now accept it as a way of life in India. Leaders, activists, corporate houses, youth and the common man must come together and fight it because corruption corrodes the very basis of a healthy society. And in the longer run every one suffers. There is an urgent need to fight this social evil collectively.
Nation building through sustainable bottom – up approach – Last but not at all the least we must change the way we look at the downtrodden and the underprivileged of the country. They are the ones whom we need to focus on more and through participatory methodologies involve them in nation building. A high percentage of crimes in the country are committed by this section not because they are bad but because they are angry, anguished and neglected lot. Because not many listen to let alone help them with their problems even though they are as much a part of our society as any one of us. Why do we ignore and exclude them? Why do we shirk away from reaching out to them? All they need is to be recognized and felt wanted by the majority. And of course they need to be made employable productively. The Government, NGOs and other relevant International and national organizations are doing their bit. But that is not enough. Each one of us must come forward for a cause we believe in and extend our help as much as possible.
A social revolution is a sure sign that that things must change dramatically and the society must reconstruct itself based on newer and better value systems and rules. India is standing on the brink of such a revolution.