FOR NATION BUILDING
“Terrorists want to undermine our growing economic strength; destroy our unity; and provoke communal incidents. We cannot allow this to happen. Our strength lies in our unity…. Our religions may be different. Our castes may be different. Our languages may be different. But we are all Indians. In our progress lies the progress of the nation. Our fortunes and our nation’s fortunes are intertwined. And working together, we can make this fortune a glorious one.”
Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh
The goal of the development process must be to include every last member of our society, particularly those who are at the margins. This not only broadens the support base for development, it also strengthens the government’s ability to perform its core developmental role. If, therefore, the beneficiaries of development see their role in this light, Government can raise the required resources to make development more inclusive. I do not suggest that Government needs to interfere in the processes of wealth creation; on the contrary. But in a developing democracy, Government cannot invest in the future of our people unless it raises the necessary resources to finance that commitment.
The art of political management, therefore, lies in ensuring longevity in office while taking difficult decisions, and simultaneously in resisting populism. Democracy is based on the notion of a popular mandate, but it should not be construed as a populist mandate.
I therefore believe that a mature democracy is one that balances the daily pressures of politics against the long-term needs of development. These conflicting demands, between the here and now of electoral politics, and the requirements of the long run that development imposes, can be and must be balanced. But for this, society inescapably needs broader responsibility among the privileged sections of the society, greater social inclusiveness and the greatest possible readiness to work towards a broader national consensus. The imperative for this is heightened by the multiplicity of demands, the constraint of resources, and the complexity introduced by the inescapable linkages of our economy with evolving external world. For these reasons, developing countries must evolve political and social consensus on the desired pattern of development. We cannot blindly imitate what is in place in the developed world. We cannot become excessively acquisitive societies like the societies of the West placing undue burden on Government and on natural and financial resources. We need a development paradigm in which the Government guarantees the freedoms of an open society and an open economy, while acquiring the capability to invest in the larger public good.
Creating Congenial Ambience
India is a multi-religious and multicultural society. Democracy and the respect for fundamental human freedoms and for the rule of law do provide a congenial environment for development. However, if politics is based on the exploitation of religious and caste differences, the end result can be a low-level equilibrium, characterized by social strife and an uncertain environment for the growth of enterprise.
Therefore, I urge professionals in all sections of society to take an active interest in democratic politics. We need more professionals in our legislatures who recognize the danger of dividing our people on the basis of religion or caste, who recognise that sustained development is not like going to a free dinner party. We need people whom our people can respect and not merely because they belong to their own subsect, but because they have personal attributes that are relevant to the task of nation building. (PIB Features)