If one is asked to put a finger on the most critical challenge facing the country, one might fluctuate between population, education, corruption or poverty. While these might be the obvious subjects of scrutiny, the underlying cause of concern that should not be missed is the ill famed tendency ie non-congruence of opinions of individuals. Little do our citizens realise that un-necessary arguments only defer and delay action. We may hold individual subjective opinions, but we should not fail to converge. An even bigger issue is that after joint decision is taken, commitment does not come from those who held an alternate opinion. While free and independent thinking can sprout fantastic ideas, agreements alone can bind them into decision and actions. This is the essence of team spirit and coordinated decision-making.
What causes this free for all attitude, possibly our mind-set that is driven by traditions, culture and beliefs. India is heavily polarised by multiple individual parameters, such as state boundaries, linguistic bands, wealth inequalities, caste distinction, generations’ gap, political ideologies and other similar dimensions. One should distinguish a polarised society from a diversified society. Being diversified is a positive happening, whereas being polarised is an Achilles heel. If this is understood by the present and future generations, diversity could be used as an instrument to harmonise polarisation.
Society is polarised inadvertently by the prolonged behaviour of people driven by narrow-minded considerations. Parameters that promote fragmentation of the society could be any but the following are some whose impact is glaring. India is lucky that the internationally disliked parameter of discrimination, the colour of skin, has not plagued this country, as yet. Hopefully it will not. If left unchecked, these polarisation tendencies could shatter the nation and plunge it into the dark alleys of sectors, clans or bands, of the Stone Age.
An individual may find himself belonging to one or more classes as listed below. His propensity to hold balance depends on how his mind has been tutored.
- Power circles (Representatives, opposition, capitalists, officials)
- Regions (Regional biases eg Delhi versus Assam)
- Languages ( 30 minutes in a group, sub-groups are formed)
- Religions (Minorities moving towards majority)
- Prosperity levels (Reservations acting as damper to prosperity)
- Castes (Inter-caste marriage is a taboo)
- Social alienation (The misery of physically or mentally impaired, HIV etc)
- Migration status (Labour class, tribals and villagers versus city dwellers)
- Gender grouping (Lopsided laws)
- Women’s quota (Tricking in favourable people inside the parliament)
This polarised framework is a challenge that needs to be tackled by suitable conditioning of minds. Education at different levels and its application to real life can contribute effectively for achieving de-polarisation. While different segments of the society are making efforts for becoming a united nation, a specific example of rural youth is worth mentioning. In December 2012, youth of a village in the Eastern Indian took a vow to marry only outside the caste, and their parents had to give in to this collective decision.