We are on the threshold of a great opportunity. We, as a nation, are becoming self-conscious of our power, our capacity for greatness, our untapped potential both in terms of people and resources.
How are we to realize this great opportunity? How do we convert this dream into a reality? That is the question facing us as a nation today.
Why is this a question, in the first place? Why must we worry whether our dreams will be converted into a reality?
The reason is because we have in the past seen similar, if smaller, visions but have, in the final analysis, failed to mobilize ourselves as a people, as a national collective to realize this vision.
Why the failure to mobilize? There are two reasons commonly presented.
One, that we are a diverse nation, with a wide range of economic and social needs, from the tribals of Bastar, to the urban and elite of South Mumbai.
Two, that we are a democracy, due to which any action however worthy and well intentioned, is capable of, and does get, blocked by numerous contrary interests.
Both these arguments that we are diverse and a large and complex democracy means that all solutions are necessarily consensual, “diluted” and delayed by the time they become acceptable.
In short, we are far too complex as a nation to “mobilize” meaningfully and purposefully to realize our own vision.
But what does change really mean? What or who must change for the nation to change? Usually, four units of transformation are talked about wherever change is discussed. These are shown in the pyramid below:
Let us elaborate on all four
- At the political level, change will mean a more honest, committed political class that is willing to go beyond the narrowest possible self-interest in which they operate.
- At the institutional level, change will mean rebuilding institutional purpose as the driving force for change.
- At the individual level, change means rebuilding the sense of citizenship and responsibility – beyond self.
- At the community level, change means acceptance of the evolutionary potential of change rather than a blind rejection of the new in favor of an older way of doing things.
All four types of change have to take place simultaneously – across a nation of one billion plus individuals, across thousands of communities, across several hundred institutions, and across a political system that has been systematically corroded over decades – for real change to take place.
Is there an alternative way of bringing out a quantum change that does not envisage directly engaging with the inertial forces in the country? Is it possible, instead to identify what are the drivers of evolution – the evolutionary catalysts in our nation? Can we strengthen these evolutionary catalysts so that the rate of change increases? Is it possible to awaken this nation to its highest potential instead of prodding a sleepy giant to changing his very nature?