Thursday, July 3, 2008

Dwindling Cohesiveness in Society

By V.V.B. Rama Rao

"Sleepwalking into segregation" is the phrase Dominic Casciani of BBC New home affairs used, while analyzing the question 'A Cohesive Britain?' The most important, and the not so well recognized, danger for our country is the dwindling cohesion of our society. Cohesion is the most important parameter for a society to exist. When this cohesion is challenged society stands in imminent danger of fractionalization, secession, segregation and finally disintegration. Society is a conglomerate of a people with a unique identity. Body Politic and Social Fabric are phrases, which suggest binding, and togetherness to make the group viable to stand on its own preserving its identity and homogeneity. Minor external differences, call them variations pleasantly, exist but they should not be accentuated for ill-conceived short-term gains.

Reverence for authority besides near similarity of mindsets and perceptions, make for cohesion. Fellow feeling, mutual respect and reverence for age-old institutions and implicit obedience to authority make good 'followership'. Respect comes from trust and faith - faith in the honesty and uprightness of governance. We, in the past, had strong unifying and cementing force in Sanskrit, the epics, the classics, inclusiveness called heritage and most importantly, reverence for authority and loyalty.

Without cohesion of society nationhood becomes a shadow without substance. Bharat, in spite of the presence of many kingdoms and many rulers down the ages retained cohesion of society. It is the successive foreign rules that began showing signs of weakening of the once robust national ethos. But, the awakening of the people and the struggle for Independence under the leadership of illustrious life-giving patriots turned to be a factor for growing solidarity.

During the last decade dangerous phenomena like 'criminalization' of politics, in fighting among political parties and thirst for power of Adventists with no idea of governance or basic sense of decency have crept in, making elections expensive as well as divisive. Whipping up of passions and narrow-minded thinking and mindless pampering gave rise to demands that threaten harmony and unity. Diversity and plurality, the inherent qualities of the nation are relegated to insignificance for each group getting the lion's share of power, money-power as well as power of governance. No one person or factor is responsible for the malaise.

Politicians, statesmen, intellectuals, all need to own up responsibility for the erosion of values. The nation is going up the corruption calibrations of the world nations. Thanks to the emergence of Globalization and Liberalization the gulf between the poor and rich is widening and thus contributing to the rise of discontent, ill-will and mindless rivalries making the lives of the have-nots more and more miserable by the day. The terms Equality, Equitability and Social Justice are bandied about in an ugly manner with hideous narrow-mindedness inspired by skewed thinking and abnormal self-love.

This rot needs to be stemmed first and foremost. The mechanism of elections needs to be thoroughly overhauled. Cohesiveness and Plurality have been co-existent but now the two appear to be mutually exclusive in actuality. Intellectuals and selfless idealists need to assert themselves, more than ever. More idea-based organizations like the Center for Civil Society are the need of the day. There is no dearth of intellectuals and self-less social workers. Voluntary agencies that work tirelessly for promoting social harmony and cohesion need to be brought into being, besides sprucing up the existing organizations working in the field. Individual reformation, mainly among the aspirants to political power, efficacious screening of contestants in elections and strong deterrents for the defiant need to be put in place.

Dr V.V.B.Rama Rao, C-7 New Township, BTPS, Badarpur, New Delhi 110 044
Email: Phone 011 2697 5732 Mobile: 09910726313

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