To be rational means to eliminate uninformed passion and unconditional devotion. To achieve, and maintain, such a state of mind is tough. Rationality replaces disruptive inclinations that one tends to develop to satisfy a need for identity and results in consistent decision-making and decreased self-contradiction, two important characteristics of leadership. Various experiences and continuous education have instilled an aptitude for rationality in my personality, especially the following two experiences.
I left India at midnight on India’s Independence Day in 2010 to pursue my undergraduate degree at Georgia Tech. Throughout the 17 hour flight, Indian Prime Minister Nehru’s words resonated in my head – “At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom.”
For the next two years, I thought India to be the only enlightened nation and limitlessly promoted the idea of India. It was not until I took an international political economy class that I achieved holistic rationality. My final grade was dependent on a debate of whether India or China was a better prospect of economic advancement. While my witty answers won the class’s support and subsequent applause, I did not receive an A as I had expected. Naturally, I blamed it on my professor’s patriotism, who happened to be of Chinese origin. After thorough introspection, I realized that I was guilty of the same blind patriotism. While India has certainly excelled in multiple areas, I should not have given in to the unconditional devotion that led me to ignore legitimate concerns raised about disruptive bureaucracy and unfavorable business conditions present in the Indian states. This was a critical turning point in which I realized the need to free myself of abstract institutions and identities.
On January 7th 2015, two armed men raided the office of a French satirical magazine and shot 11 people to express their disapproval of material published by the periodical. The incident led to a discord among my friends given their passionate affiliations to particular beliefs. While some were rather quick to adopt the phrase “Je suis Charlie”, others believed the publication house had misused and manipulated the freedom of speech through communal targeting and vulgarity. I was sympathetic with those affected by the incident, and I absolutely condemn the act of violence, but the conversation on the responsible use of free speech intrigued me. Although both sides presented reasonably logical arguments, each strong sense of identity led one to ignore the rationale of the other. It is easy to get caught up in the hype of current events, but it is important to consider events in their entirety and not be guided by uninformed passion.
In the exhaustive debate between two democratic candidates for the US presidential nominations for 2016, I saw myself sway to one agenda of politics masterly orchestrated by the brilliant socialist democrat Bernie Sanders and ignore the seemingly more pragmatic agenda meticulously put together by one of the most experienced candidates Hillary Clinton. While the difference in their policies had been minor, I once again found myself at the crossroads of favoring the persona and hype rather than objectivity. While I still whole heartedly support Bernie’s campaign for drastic political reforms in United States politics, I also believe that the United States of America should not delay the election of a woman candidate anymore. It is important to understand that the motivation behind my slight shift in favoritism does not solely rise from her being the female candidate, but from the fact that she has all the credentials necessary to make a good president, and one cannot rely on the fact that there will be other opportunities to elect a woman president.
Standing for progress and continuous learning requires one to challenge every popular notion and disassociate oneself from any affiliation or identity. Rationality relies on objective selection of subjective philosophies and not the other way around. It will always be relative and dynamic. When events are analyzed individually rather than linearly, decisions become cohesive and consistent and self-doubt reduces, yielding objective rationality, diminished confrontation, and enhanced collaboration.
Legitimately elected legislatures and appointed executives command a high level of authority in the current system of governance. Over time, they have proven useful in creating positive and beneficial policies during significantly difficult situations. As a result, the current structure of democratic governments comprising the legislative, executive, and judiciary branches appears to be in its optimal state. However, from the perspective of progress, it is important to challenge ideals and principles that have grown to be a part of the status quo. These institutes pride themselves on being accountable to their subjects, however, they lack a concrete way to actually maintain or measure this accountability until the end of the ruling body’s term. This leads to short-term pursuits of power, which are sometimes characterized by bigoted personal agendas, bogus development claims, and belligerent defiance of reasoning. Constructing a fourth constitutional arm of the government that pushes those in impactful positions to make evidence-based policies and logic-driven decisions and constantly track their progress against administrative goals would further strengthen democratic institutions around the world.
With every new government comes a new agenda of growth and development. Representatives and political parties get elected with an expectation that the new set of political leaders would identify critical issues, set ambitious targets, adopt feasible solutions, and make optimum use of resources in achieving these objectives. In some cases, providing an empty canvas to the newly elected legislatures to draft their own version of development plans on has swayed the government’s focus from more important issues to less crucial ones. Evidence of such deviation from practical needs are apparent in both developed and developing nations. For instance, in India, there are legislatures who are enthusiastically pursuing a divisive communal agenda because of their personal beliefs. In the United States, there are legislatures who are pushing against sustainable development reforms because of their individual financial interests. Neither of these motives is reflective of objective thinking and inclusive national interests. In other cases, the inability to track the exact progress of governors’ policies and their associated impact has resulted in diminished alacrity to respond to public issues and increased ambiguity of their accountability to those who elected them. Hence, leaders lack motivation to pursue reforms and development initiatives aggressively and wisely. This could also be an indicator of potential avenues of corruption and inefficiency in the system of governance. These issues present themselves as grave matters of concern in relatively newer or unstable democracies and regions with lower levels of development. Failing to identify such inefficacies not only prohibits growth, but also questions the effectiveness of democratic institutions.
While free flow of information through various media and public litigation platforms has assisted in advancing the role of accountability, it has not realized its fullest potential for the following key reasons: while media platforms are vulnerable to financial and ideological influences, public grievance record systems shift the responsibility of accountability onto the citizens to inform themselves and subsequently make better decisions in the next election cycle. The solution exists in constructing a new branch of the government that surveys the current requirements and resources of the country or state, develops measurable and broad metrics of development, seeks periodic progress updates from other branches of the government, and delivers comprehensive reports to the citizens. This body would be dually tasked to not only report information to the legislature and the executive office, but also track their response to the shared knowledge. Under its constitutional powers this organization would be able to access the existing government machinery of most, if not all, departments in order to reach comprehensive conclusions. With the swearing in of the new administration, the aforementioned progress secretariat comes into action and presents its findings including key challenges, national and regional goals, popular public expectations, and electoral promises of the elected party. As a next step, the government is expected to respond with a detailed plan-of-action and a set of goals it aims to achieve in a particular governing period. This gives the government the ability to create its own metric and standard to which it should be held accountable to throughout its term. However, these goals are flexible and those in public offices would have opportunities to reform the measurement scale in the wake of newer evidence or information. While the usual business continues, the organization would regularly analyze the administration’s progress targets, methods, and potential impacts in excruciating detail. The continual review process will be used to provide constant feedback and suggestions of improvement.
It must be understood that this body, in its structure or purpose, is not similar to the planning commissions instituted in several countries that dictate national policies and leave little room for innovation and contributions from non-governmental factors. Neither is it similar to the periodic development plans used in the past by countries such as USSR, India, and China. In order to properly reflect diversity of opinion and ideology, the origination should be structured based on the level of governance, size of population, and complexity of the issues. It must also be ensured that along with regimented bureaucracy and scholarship, thought leaders and reformers from all spheres of the society are included in this overlooking tributary of the government. As this body is not directly elected by universal franchise, the development agenda that this organization lays out is an evidence-based guideline that may or may not be followed by the legislative assembly and executive members. It is also important to note that the body’s motive is not fully accomplished until it relays the information back to the masses. This association would regularly analyze the government efforts and issue encyclopedic progress reports and information sets for easy comprehension of complex issues among common people. In this manner it fulfils its purpose by formalizing the process of mapping governance and enhancing traceability into political decision-making.
Expanding the government framework by including an overarching body of information without augmenting the total exercisable authority is beneficial to the democratic system of governance in several ways. It provides a comprehensive national advancement metric, which exhibits real-time tracking of what factors play key roles in the progression of a region. This is crucial to direct political science to move forward in its most literal sense – natural selection of the successful traits of a system would occur based on evidence, data, and reason, while outmoded, unrealistic traits would be replaced. Progressive agendas could be enforced with greater strength and an increased transparency into governance and the surrounding politics. Additionally, such a system would be beneficial in systematic scrutiny of political programs deviated from suggested paths and targeted towards ill-motivated or irrational goals. However, the design ensures that in no way the functioning of this body compromises political liberty and innovation. Over a period of time, such programs would have a positive impact on general and political awareness of the masses and induce an atmosphere of rationality among voters. Issue and approach-based electoral contests would come to the forefront, and the politics of race and religion would take a back seat. Commonly used campaign tactics such as exploitation of prejudices among the masses and distribution of freebies and election SOPs would have a diminishing impact on an increasingly educated and aware electorate. Therefore, the system would methodologically favor the selection and sustenance of a rational, flexible, and legitimate government.
The foundation of this new constitutional unit is only a scratch at the surface of upcoming democratic needs. There are endless opportunities for improving decision-making processes and enhancing the interaction between governors and those who are being governed. Instituting a structural change that strengthens the good elements in the system is characteristic of an exploratory nature of democracy and a dynamically sensitive system of governance. With this body and several other political order revolutions, we are actively moving towards developing a political utopia.
The state of Punjab is plummeting into a phase of complete disorder. The farmers are distressed, drug abuse is at an alarming stage, and religious sentiments are continually targeted. People of Punjab are outraged at the SAD (Badal) government not only for its inaction against the degrading law and order situation, but also for the alleged involvement of its many key leaders in the growing hooliganism and drug trade in Punjab. It is evident that the constitutional machinery has completely failed and the usually nonchalant and jubilant Punjabis are now being pushed to protest and die on the streets of Punjab.
The turmoil in the state also poses direct questions at the intentions and political morals of the BJP government in center, which is the part of the coalition in Punjab and whose leader had earlier compared Prakash Singh Badal with Nelson Mandela. Punjabis are sick and tired of filthy politics at play that divert the attention of the masses from key issues in Punjab. In the wake of this traumatizing situation for Punjab, it must be recognized that the state government has lost the legitimacy to continue to govern Punjab for the next two years. Unfortunately neither the fierce Amrinder Singh nor the witty Bhagwant Mann have made considerable effort to build a public opinion to do away with the Badal Sarkar before 2017. It is evident that the failed government should be immediately replaced in order to prevent further exploitation of people’s prejudices both by state and non-state religious extremist actors.
Therefore the people of Punjab must raise their voices to at least have a symbolic impact at the Rashtrapati Bhavan door. It is not justified to expect the people of Punjab to wait until 2017 to exercise their right to vote in order to get rid of the current regime. This petition is directed to the government of India and the Honorary President in order to review the provisions of applicability of Article 356 (President’s Rule), annulling the current regime followed by renewed elections in Punjab. Let the state of Punjab prosper again and relive its legacy of being the food bowl of India. Let’s join our efforts towards a #BadalFreePunjab.
Please sign and share this petition.
In an increasingly connected and informed world, it is common to identify and harness mutually beneficial relationships among various social issues. However, identifying similar synergies in the unconnected and remote corners of the world is not nearly as common. Similarly, it is easier to push through changes in the urban centers of the world. The biggest challenge is to permeate social reforms into the rural districts and villages. At the 2015 Social Good Summit, global poverty, and more especially, rural poverty were some of the most glaring issues. A state of constant competition for resources among the community members was identified as the prime reason for lack of prosperity. While efforts are required to ensure adequate resources for rural dwellers, establishing sustainable population levels are also necessary. These issues are a result of the rural population, especially the women within, lacking the rights and liberty to work for their own living or to decide on reproduction; as such, the root cause of the matter trickles down to the issue of women’s empowerment.
Even with concerted efforts of developed economies and multiple inter-governmental organizations, the process to provide aid and resource to the impoverish sections of the global community is old and inefficient. Many key speakers at the summit mentioned the growing need of a restructured aid process and alternative measure
s to meet uniform or consistent resource allocation. Constant pressure on naturalresources and their rising consumption levels are resulting in calls to check the population levels around the world. Even though the share of resources used by families in undeveloped regions is significantly less than that of families in industrialized areas, larger sized poor families prohibit their own growth and efforts to come out of poverty. Any national policy or governmental intervention in family planning can be seen as restrictive and overbearing in an increasing libertarian world. Therefore, the bottom-up approach is most suitable in such societies, which could be achieved by equipping the unutilized and disadvantaged half of the population with skills, resources, and knowledge to plan their families.
Educating and empowering women directly impacts the progress of the rural family. Women with equal rights as men actively participate in various community-building activities such as managing local business, allocating household income efficiently, and propagating importance of education. With an enhanced decision-making ability and financial liberty, women are more likely to gain access to jobs and land and involve themselves in the practice of social development, forwarding the cause even more.
So what does it take to empower women? The first step is extensive and elaborative education focusing on a wide variety of issues ranging from teaching domestic economics to family planning. The next most important step of financial liberty could be achieved by introducing an entrepreneurial culture and the idea of building agricultural enterprises with the help of small financial loans and by setting up inter-rural cooperative societies. The following step should be to enhance awareness among both men and women about their reproductive health and benefits within a smaller, more sustainable, family. This should be accompanied with easy availability of contraception and encouragement to use the local health resources.
Leila Darabi of Planned Parenthood, Neha Matthew of Sierra Club, and many other women’s empowerment champions at the Social Good Summit correctly stressed that women are key to a healthy and sustainable community. Establishing this norm across regions would be the foundation of change and ease of implementation for further social reforms.
“The spirit of Revolution should always permeate the soul of humanity, so that the reactionary forces may not accumulate to check its eternal onward march. Old order should change, always and ever, yielding place to new, so that one “good” order may not corrupt the world.”
With the eloquent words of Indian philosopher and revolutionary Bhagat Singh in mind, the United Nations adopted 17 new global goals in order to achieve a more prosperous tomorrow. The recently presented agenda of sustainable development presents an array of opportunities for technological disruptions and political collaborations across interests to achieve constantly improving governance.
While these goals are broadly set, the focus on specificity of measurement and evaluation of progress observably indicate the sense of seriousness and accountability surrounding the planned course of action. Vital factors to the success of these goals include large-scale public awareness and involvement of non-government entities such as corporations, civil societies, and local individuals. The fact that these goals are being communicated so aggressively and actively via the Internet and mass media demonstrate the growing interest of a highly philanthropic and concerned generation. And with this initiation of public attention, we take our first step forward to success.
Corporations and NGOs are giving up mutual discomfort to work together; governments are pledging to enhance transparency through information sharing; policies are becoming increasingly dependent on open source data rather than traditional prejudices; and more than 1 billion people are expected to come online within the next five years. These events point at the strength of commitment and confidence in practicality of these goals across the board.
The campaign took off with a grand convention of global leaders, change makers, and enthusiasts witnessing promising statements that led to futuristic ambitions and idealistic hopes. But the question now is can we carry on this exciting energy and enthusiasm for these goals over the next 15 years? As new issues and concerns arise, this task may seem difficult; but with the right approach and a transparent and concise timeline, this energy is very much achievable.
Critics’ paranoia might lead them to term these collaborations as collusion and may hint at commitments being overshadowed by hidden business interests. While we cannot immediately dismiss these conspiracies, we can hold onto the belief and hope that humanity presents. While we live in a world that has constant and easy access to the Internet, businesses will surely try to sell more merchandise for profit gains, but at the same time, people have readily available resources such as Wikipedia and ‘Khan Academy’ to self-educate themselves. Companies might prefer to spend money on marketing rather than social good, but then realize that using their supply chain to deliver vaccines and contraceptives to remote areas of the world will outscore any ad campaign. Governments might retreat from some initiatives midway, but there will always be NGOs and activists like Kailash Satyarthi championing the cause of empowerment through education.
This summit has set the foundation for giving life to a world with prosperity, equality, education, and justice by concentrating the global efforts to a mere 17 point agenda. It attempts to disturb the status quo and let the spirit of revolution induce the idea of unattainable yet essential perfection “in its eternal onward march.” Long Live Revolution!
Sadio Baad jo hua ek mulk Azaad,
Lakhon Khwahishe, Anginat Khwaab,
Thi kusch ashahmati to alag hue raaste,
Kai gile shikve, par androoni thi chahatein,
Kabhi painsath, ekhattar, to kabhi ninyaanve,
Par sabse adbhut nazare Wagah ki Salaam mein,
Kabhi dost kabhi dushman aur kabhi hamsae,
Ek ateet, ek lihaz, barso se hai apne, to ab kyu parae,
Udhed do ye sarhade aur khol do ve raste,
Milne do bichdon ko,
Khilne do nae rishton ko,
Waqt maangta hai tumse ek nai misaal,
Aaj adsath hue saal, aur kitne karoge nihaal,
Aao milke Azaadi manate hai,
Kusch naye iraade aur umeede jagate hai,
Saathi mubarak tumhe yeh Jashn Azaadi ka,
Bas itna yaad rahe, Ab do hue to kya, yeh Mulk kabhi Ek hi Tha!!
If there is one thing everyone can attest to about the Modi government, it is the fact that Indian foreign policy has been on steroids since May 2014. The passive aggressive pursuit undertaken by Prime Minister Modi himself is actually quite impressive. Indian foreign policy has always been very tactful and positive. India has maintained workable-to-good relations with the majority of the states, even with those with conflicting interests. Under former PM Dr. Manmohan Singh, foreign policy became more international and ambitious than ever before and it would only be fair to say that Modi has continued on this path and made it stronger through his unique innovation.
India has traditionally positioned itself as a passive power with an ambitious, but unclear, regional and international agenda. Even though India showed pursuits of ambition and innovation from time to time, Indian foreign policy portrayed a lack creativity and dominance. The majority of India’s international fixtures resulted from its geographic and strategic presence in Asia and its growing economy, which other ambitious states could not afford to ignore. India has attracted a lot of foreign investment and has contributed to a variety of international issues. India has positioned itself as a friend to all and a foe to none, which has definitely benefitted it to win the confidence of many major nations. However, its regional and international influence has been constantly challenged either by China or by its own over ambitious nature. The Modi government is exploring a unique avenue by reaching out to less influential and underdeveloped countries. In addition to this, there is an effort to strengthen the bilateral ties with countries of similar cultural backgrounds. India is changing its inward looking foreign policy of attracting investment and strategic favoritism to an outward looking foreign policy of expanding its sphere of influence and identifying markets of Indian trade and culture for expansion. Although India’s journey to become a serious international player has existed since Nehru’s time, it has never been pursued with such vigor and enthusiasm.
Looking back at the inauguration day of the Modi government, the PM made a symbolic move by inviting all SAARC national leaders. Apart from its unclear and ever-changing policy with Pakistan, the Modi government has successfully resolved several border issues with Bangladesh, improved trade ties with Sri Lanka, enhanced its strategic influence in Bhutan, Nepal, and Myanmar, countered China, and strengthened the already developing friendship with Afghanistan. The PM is taking initiative and conducting visits to states where no Indian leader has stepped before. His recent visit to the central Asian states of Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan not only embarked newer trade treaties, but also established important military cooperation pacts and energy trade deals.The extent of this new foreign policy of universal acceptance is such that the PM conducted a visit to the island nation of Fiji as well. In response to China’s recent opposition to text-based negotiations of the United Nations Security Council reforms, India has significantly increased its outreach programs to Pacific islands and African states. In order to balance China’s tactical pressure, India has come out in full open support of the UN Convention on Law of Sea, which questions China’s blatant expansionist agenda in the South China sea. Additionally, India is organizing a first of its kind summit with Pacific island states and the largest ever India-Africa summit through which it plans not only to increase its bilateral ties, but also familiarize these nations with the larger goal of the UNSC reforms. India’s recent attention to smaller nations has not in any way put behind the good work initiated by Dr. Singh’s former government. India’s ‘Look East’ policy which was rebranded to the ‘Act East’ policy by Modi, has only strengthened India’s relations with Eastern nations through several trade, energy, and development agreements. Establishment of the BRICS bank is another such example of continuing foreign policy. By bagging the atomic energy deal all around the globe, the Modi government has definitely made the most of the atomic isolation ended by Dr. Singh by signing the first nuclear dealwith the US.
India has developed its international presence and strategic influence majorly through its soft power attributes rather than through its third-largest military. The current methodology adopted by the government coincides with the global order envisioned by the first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. The Indian government is taking the right steps in making India a serious contender for key decisions concerning global politics.
Agriculture is dying a slow death around the globe. Governments, developed or developing, have done very little to cause sustainable growth of farming practices around the world. Rather, most of the existing policies seem to be facilitating agriculture’s decline. Once the greatest contributor to the global economy, farming is now struggling to find a place on policy maker’s agendas. The growing influence of industrial products and abstract financial products has diminished agriculture’s importance and in turn has reduced it to an undesirable profession. Declining agriculture poses serious threat to an already dangling food security and global hunger. Additionally, it is resulting in a large scale unnatural and unsustainable urbanization especially in developing countries. Lack of innovation, talent, and organization is the key reason behind the fall of this sector. The solution to this lies in restructuring the education and creating enterprise opportunities by enhancing the role of advanced technology and internet into farming and agriculture practices. 
According to a popular development theory, this decline is a result of natural selection. As a country advances, it becomes less and less dependent on agriculture and its contribution into the GDP falls. Countries tend to develop in their own particular ways when you consider their history, topography, population, and culture. All cannot be either industrialized manufacturing economies or agrarian economies – there has to be a beneficial balance. States which have been predominantly agricultural should be encouraged internally and externally to incorporate practices to boost their agricultural yields and discover new ways to tie agricultural practice with modern enterprises. Agricultural yields and productivity per hectare is increasing because of modern practices, however, it has still not affected the sector in a whole in a positive manner. It is becoming increasingly difficult and expensive for individuals to operate in this sector. India, which once had farmers as its largest workforce is now losing 2000 farmers every day because of urbanization, unfavorable conditions, and suicides. There is a worrisome trend of decreasing ownership of cultivatable land and an increasing number of laborers.  Similar trends can be seen in China and Indonesia.  Being the largest and most influential country in South Asia, a decline in Indian agriculture could have serious impact on rest of the South Asia as well. The south Asian population is growing at a higher rate than its ability to produce food. The situation is not so different in developed countries either. In the United States, the average age of the farmer is rising every year and the number of farms has been on a decline and has now reached the lowest in the last century. Governments are finding it hard to attract younger generations into farming even after providing a range of incentives. There is a large migration of the workforce out of agriculture and rural areas into crowded towns and city centers. Contrary to the popular belief, rising urbanization puts greater pressure on the economy. A prime example of this is China, which needs to generate 10 million jobs every year to maintain its urban unemployment rate.  The current reliance of economic advancement and development is excessively tilted on manufacturing and financial products.
Policies in this sector need to be revitalized in order to restore the economic balance and reinvigorate the growth of this sector. Governments have been exhausting their resources only in providing monetary assistance to farmers in the forms of subsidies and loans. For any sector or profession to become sustainable, a lot depends on the quality of the workforce, which is directly related to sectorial education and R&D. Agriculture, which is usually considered a practice of the Labor Economy, needs to be transformed into being a part of the Talent Economy. We can begin by modernizing agricultural education by linking it to other popular career streams. Proper farming education is an amalgamation of life sciences, engineering, and business studies. It involves research and development, tools and manufacturing, infrastructure improvement, supply chain management, product diversification, and sales and trading. The current system focuses only on agricultural practices and lacks explanation of its commercial value and exploring new avenues of innovation. Institutions are severely underfunded and outdated. The faculty and student body have niche interests that inhibit them from exploring different aspects of this avenue. Introducing or updating subjects such as ‘agro-science’ and ‘agro-business’ would help in several ways. First, it would organize and strengthen this sector into a proper and broader field of study. Second, it would diversify its workforce from the current owner and laborer mentality. And third, it would initiate small scale agricultural enterprises and local cooperatives. This way, agriculture might have a shot at growing back into significance. The best way to summarize the importance and necessity of this effort is through a World Bank report that asserts, ‘Agriculture can help reduce poverty for 78% of the world’s poor, who live in rural areas and work mainly in farming. It can raise incomes, improve food security and benefit the environment.’ 
1984 happened 30 years ago, but it keeps visiting the social, judicial, and political circles of India even today. It’s a tragic time stamp in Indian history and should be condemned at the strongest level. Not only did India lose a strong and an able Prime Minister, but also started another chapter of communal distrust and agony in the long list of inter-community tensions within the subcontinent.
Today, a large number of politically motivated and ill-informed Sikhs believe that they are a separate nation in the state of India. Once the most involved community in building the Indian story, they are now leaning towards a dangerously disruptive direction.
A religion founded on the common principles of Islam and Hinduism, Sikhism flourished in the presence of and with the support of other communities. Sikhism derives its inspiration from rationale and compassion. Following these ideals, Sikhs assumed the role of protectors, guardians, and providers for the people. The gurus sacrificed themselves for the rights of others and for their conviction for logic and reasoning. Throughout the struggle against British imperialism, Sikhs had a pivotal role to play. Out of 106 hangings issued by the English rulers before 1947, 95 were Sikhs who sacrificed themselves for this great country. Their contribution in building a modern India is as incredible as any other community’s.
However, major differences were created among Sikhs and other communities by Bhindranwala, cult leader of a terrorist outfit in the late seventies. His dictatorial ideology threw the prosperous region of Punjab into a reign of terror and unlawfulness. Arms smuggling, kidnapping, mass killings of thousands of Punjabis and takeover of the religious institutions were the kind of activities Bhindranwala fashioned. His biggest disgrace to the community was converting the most important shrine of Sikhs, the Golden Temple, into a terror headquarter. This eventually led to the infamous operation Blue Star. Therefore, Mrs. Gandhi is not to be blamed for anything, rather it is Bhindranwala who left no option but to use military force to free the temple from his control and the misguided population from his ideology. Mrs. Gandhi’s attempt to maintain the integrity of our beautiful country was rewarded with her death, and this in turn led to carnage of Sikhs in the national capital by some irresponsible politicians. The anti-Sikh riots of 1984 are a deep scar in our history. The entire country mourns the loss of people and India on a whole is sympathetic to the Sikh community. The Sikhs are still fighting a battle for justice within the bounds of the Indian judicial system and there is a consensus in the country to identify and punish the guilty as soon as possible.
But it is extremely disappointing to see the double standard adopted by the Sikh community in India. On one side, it is fighting for justice against an inhumane act of violence, and on the other, it forgets about the suffering of numerous Punjabis at the hand of Bhindranwala and similar terrorists. On one side it is working within the Indian judicial and civil system, and on the other hand its leaders are endorsing ideas of a separate Sikh nation in the secular Indian state. On one hand it is proud of itself for its forward thinkers and patriots such as Bhagat Singh, Udham Singh, and Tarlok Singh, and on the other hand, it is classifying Bhindranwala as a saint.
I strongly believe that the majority of this comes from political propaganda run by several communal interest groups and political parties, especially the ones in power in Punjab. It is not new that Shiromani Akal Dal would use such ill tactics to divert the attention of people from the pressing issues such as of lack of development, degradation of the entire bureaucratic and law system, and unimaginable levels of corruption. Changing the identity of a peaceful and selfless community to a violent and selfish ideology could cause political character assassination of Sikhs.
My grandfather, who was a strict and enthusiastic practitioner of Sikhism, taught me that the ideals guarding Sikhism are based on compassion for others and self-improvement. Somewhere through our journey, the leaders of the Sikh community have forgotten the essence of this religion. They have misguided the Sikh youth and have not let the vibrant community move on from the ghost of eighty-four. It is about time that Sikhs legitimize their struggle for justice further by giving up the wrong ideals, by stopping idolization of villains like Bhindranwala, and by working towards making India one nation under one state.
Interestingly enough, the most important thing to people today is their need for identity. One’s need to identify or recognize with something unnatural or abstract surpasses one’s need for survival. These affiliations are usually associated with strong in-group entities like religion, state, country, language, race, political parties or anything superficial, which gives you a sense of being in a group. “Need for Identity” tends to casts a shadow on our decision capabilities by keeping us from absolute objectivity. Majority of the people, may be living an individualistic life today, but they are still dependent on their sense of identity or a need to be in a group.
These identifications are neither mutually exclusive nor exhaustive. One can have multiple identification and even conflicting identifications as long it satisfies one’s need at the moment. These identities originated with a positive sense of security and togetherness. However, within the positive sense of identity there is a negative identity interdependence on the “other”. The “other” is nothing but a different abstract institution. This negative interdependence can lead people to make seemingly irrational decisions based on fear of losing the self-assigned superiority. Over the top nationalism, insane communal intolerance, overrated loyalties to political parties and ignorant sense of pride on culture, language and many more things. These are just few examples of irrational decisions people made because of the fear of “other”.
The sense of identity is not easy to lose, because this is how we evolved. We started it out of a sense of community and sharing a commonality and have carried it on with us believing that our affiliation is better than the “other”. This leads us to make subjective and biased decisions. We are imprisoned by the walls of these unnatural entities. It is unrealistic and undesirable to expect everyone to change and give up the need for identity. It is tough to contemplate if we were asked to make decisions without putting ourselves first, or our family first, or our religion or country or in cases like mine our ideology first. These are the things that shaped our thought process and personality, so giving up on them might lead us to to giving up a big chunk of ourselves. It is extremely hard to give up an identity because that leaves a vacuum, which must be filled by an alternative one. In addition to this, we have also cultivated our own hierarchy for these associations, which we like to enforce on others and vice versa. But with the advent of knowledge sharing we are continuously evolving and shifting our abstract identifications and their importance. People are adapting different religions as compared to what they were born in. They and their nationalism are migrating from one country to another. Our ideological identifications are changing at an even faster rate. We are becoming fickle minded, which is not a bad thing. These changes of identities are not a result of some absolute knowledge that we acquire, it is rather more of a social contemplation of relative knowledge of how our society is like, and how it should be, how we should be governed and how we should move forward or go backward.
(I think people might confuse this with the process of gaining knowledge and jumping to something better, but it is not that. These are merely one’s judgements based on their abstract and unnatural inceptions. I personally don’t think they should exist, but why do people love to be with them is something which I have DECIDED to leave it to the people because that decision doesn’t let me move forward with my hypothesis.)
Now let’s say there is a state of mind where one doesn’t feel the need to identify or recognize with an abstract idea. The mind has already over the period of time enjoyed and learned from numerous associations it accepted and rejected, but now its beyond the state where it needs to have the satisfaction of association. The first critique this idea will draw is that this idea itself is very abstract and unnatural and it could very well be the first reason to associate with this idea given our affection towards abstraction. The second set of criticism would on the lines of idealism, super humanly or totally in-human, maybe another reason to like the idea given our yearning of super human figures or God and constant effort towards idealism.
Currently this is not applicable to all. However, for a small group of population this could be their shot at rejecting antiquity, and conventionality once again. A group of few thinkers or leaders who can give up their need for identity and think absolutely objectively. Their role no more requires them to align people to one identity or in many cases their personal favorite identity. In this state we ask them to just manage people’s affiliations and cultivate mutual existence. Even in this state, when they have given up their identifications, people will continue to identify through a narrow lens of contemporary perception. To people, it would seem that the idea has failed practically and change bearers could never go beyond their affiliations. Therefore, the idea of lacking a need of identity would seem abstract and just like our current abstract entities, it will settle down for the long haul with the leadership of human civilization. Gradually, it will be absorbed by a larger group of people and would have a strong hold onto our subconscious, until the “other” breaks this association and takes the need for identity to a different level.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.