Skip to main content

Importance of being a Jacinda Ardern for India and other developing countries

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*

The world needs new ideas and not rigidities of ideas. It needs pragmatic leaders and not opportunists. Pragmatism should not be considered as opportunism or vice versa. Also important to understand is, we live in a complex world. Resolution to problems facing societies will come through participatory polity and inclusion.
Of course, forces of rigidities, profit for few and extreme right will always be there to further complicate issues and create new problems, but societies which embrace new ideas and have higher tolerance level, as also inclusive polity, will survive more and live better than those where people can be murdered in the name of Gods or religious texts, or where we continue to harp on 'past wrongs' and attempt to correct them by removing them.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has formed her cabinet after her victory, and what an innovative and pathbreaking it is! Her new foreign minister is a Maori woman. Maoris are indigenous people and New Zealand even has a separate Maori Parliament, where Maoris decide about their own issues. There are five persons from Maori community in the cabinet, which is pathbreaking.
It is reported that Maori communities constitute about 16% of the total five million population of the country. Eight of the cabinet ministers are women which reflects Ardern's idea of inclusion and importance of women to propagate social justice ideas. What is heartening is inclusion of LGBTQ members in the cabinet. There are three members from this group.
Giving six important ministries is extraordinary, to say the least. All the ministries given to diverse communities is an example of how we can overcome prejudices. You cannot really overcome prejudices by lectures but by setting up examples and inclusion.
Ardern has shown extraordinary qualities of statesmanship which is lacking in the world at the moment. Like her counterpart in Canada, Justin Trudeau, she has shown how multiculturalism can be a strength to any society and must be celebrated. It is equally important for the political leadership world over to be careful about their utterances and reject hate mongering.
Indeed, a secular state is the only guarantee for the rights of the marginalised and minorities anywhere. It is time people start rejecting the idea of a theocratic state, which seeks to promote one particular religion and makes others villain. For liberal democracy to survive, the precondition would be to have an inclusive society and complete neutrality of the state.
No doubt, one cannot deny 'majority' influence on the power structure. It is natural. But it is essential for the both majority and minority communities to build trust, which cannot grow in the event prejudices and false narratives continue. Wrongs of past are often used in different ways. 
There are those who continue to harp on hate and division, but there are also those who feel ashamed of historical wrongs and make honest efforts to bring in minorities and marginalised into social-cultural and political structure.
But one thing is for sure. The western world will have superiority over us not because they have a mighty air force or armed forces but because of their robust institutions, which uphold liberalism, tolerance to acceptance of diverse viewpoints, knowledge systems, minimum role of religion in daily .life and administrative structure and secular state apparatus.
In India and some other developing countries where democracy has taken shape we still lack all this, as we have prejudices based on caste, colour, gender, food habits, languages and religion. As long as they persist, western world will continue to dominate. We lack powerful institutions, whether it is media, judiciary, independent bureaucracy, independent police and a diverse civil society.
Ardern and Trudeau kind of leaders will succeed only when people with minorities and immigrant background support their policies
Today, our political leadership seeks to hammer them all. Civil society is considered anti-national, intellectuals are thought to be as a threat to the nation, media has become the ruling party propaganda peddling fake news, while the judiciary has virtually become part of the executive. Least said about police the better, as they are used to protecting the powerful, even as criminalising the poor, the marginalised and the minorities.
New Zealand or Finland might be smaller countries but they provide us with a lot of new ideas which can make us better. Canada is three times bigger than us, and in terms of human resources, it is smaller than the combined population of Delhi and Mumbai. But these countries continue to show us the way. Their leaders guide us how they celebrate diversity and multiculturalism.
It is also essential for immigrants and minorities to understand and try to respect and be part of the broader liberal culture. In the name of community identity, many times, migrants and minorities, whether forced or voluntarily, live in ghettoised locations and become ritualistic and conservative. While following one’s tradition or religious practices is not wrong, attempt to look differently all the time in the name of identity will not find acceptance.
Ardern and Justin Trudeau kind of leaders will succeed only when people with minorities and immigrant background support their policies and join hands with other liberal nationals, who believe in multiculturalism. That alone will bring promote liberal societies.
For India and its neighbours, we have to learn the value of secularisation as that only is the guarantee for bringing together diverse groups. Hatred in the name of religion and ethnicity will only bring destruction. In the war for 'supremacy', nobody will be a winner. It is time to understand this.
---
*Human rights defender

Comments

Jabir Husain said…
Inclusiveness of minority is a healthy sign of any society!

TRENDING

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Examples of support to Hindu temples, scriptures, saints by 'Muslim' rulers galore

Siya Ram coin issued by Akbar By Bharat Dogra* At a time when the country as well as the world are passing through very difficult times leading to more urgent need for strengthening national unity for meeting several big challenges ahead, unfortunately disputes relating to religious places have been allowed to raise their ugly head once again. It is well-realized by now by many people that it is not historical facts but narrow considerations of political gain and spreading of fanatic ideas of intolerance which are behind such mischief, but due to the increasing threat of mob violence and patronage available at higher levels to groups spreading intolerance many people are reluctant to openly and fearlessly express their views. Hence there is urgent need for broad-based peace committees with wider social support to spread the message of communal harmony and to appeal against the dangers of spreading false messages regarding places of worship which can ultimate

Gyanvapi case: Use of 'illegal' lawfare to keep the communal pot simmering

By Venkatesh Narayanan, Bobby Ramakant, Manoj Sarang* With a steady drumbeat of bad news for the lives of ordinary citizens --  inflation at a multi-year high , rupee at an all-time low , negative job creation and when all forward indicators as seen by industry leaders point to recessionary clouds on the horizon , what’s a serially-incompetent government to do?  Dust out their time-tested-citizen-distraction playbook. The Gyanvapi-Masjid case is all of this -- as a weapon of mass distraction. This zeitgeist of our times is best captured by a recent opinion piece : "The idea is to keep the pot on a perpetual boil, simmering at the top, whirling feverishly beneath. A restless society forever living precariously on the precipice arouses distrst, uneasiness, fear and discomfort, That is a toxic panoply for manufacturing rage, which can then be effortlessly mobilized at short notice. BJP is creating an eco-system of real-time instant delivery of hate-mongers. That is how we are sudde

Targeting mosques, churches: 'Roadmap' for 2025, RSS' centenary year?

416 years old Our Lady of Health Church, Sancoale, Goa  By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  Fascists use manipulative strategies aimed at whipping up sympathy and support from the majority community, to which they normally ‘belong’. They do so in a variety of insidious and subtle ways. In the past few months, they have gone overboard in their efforts to denigrate and demonize minorities in India, particularly Muslims and Christians. They have spewed hate and divisiveness through their venomous speeches; incited people to violence and have effectively used officialdom to further their vested interests. The results are there for all to see: greater polarisation of the majority community in a country which prided itself for its pluralism and diversity. Their meticulously planned agenda is in order to gain absolute power of the country in the 2024 national elections. More so it is also a roadmap towards 2025 when the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) will complete one hundred years of its existence.

This varsity succumbed to extra-academic mobocracy, 'ignored' Hindutva archives

By Shamsul Islam* Open letter to Sharda University vice-chancellor Sub: Discarding a Question on Linkages of Hindutva with Nazism/Fascism is blatant Academic Dishonesty! Dear Professor Sibaram Khara Saheb, Namaskaar! According to your esteemed University’s portal: “The name of University, 'Sharda' is synonymous to 'Goddess of knowledge and learning-Saraswati'. She is identified with 'veena', an Indian musical instrument and the ‘lotus’, where she resides. The lotus in our logo symbolizes the seat of learning that the University is created for.  "Variety of colours signify the variety of disciplines the university offers and the overlap between petals creating new colours demonstrate the ethos of collaboration between students and teachers of different programme, nationality, creed and colour working towards creating new knowledge…the University's cherished mission to provide education beyond boundaries and to facilitate the students and faculty to achie

Whither climate goal? Increasing reliance on coal 'likely to worsen' India's power crisis

By Shankar Sharma*  Recent news articles, How to shock-proof India’s power sector and Power minister points finger at states for worsening electricity crisis , have highlighted a few current problems for the ongoing power sector issues as in April 2022. However, there is a lot more to it than a few temporary solutions as indicated in the articles. It should also be emphasised that it is techno-economically impossible to completely shock-proof a highly complex and geographically wide-spread vast power network, such as the one in India, which is only getting more and more complex with the passage of each year due to some irrational policies/ practices in the sector. A business-as-usual (BAU) scenario, wherein more and more of conventional technology power plants, including coal power plants, will be added in the near future, will also necessitate the increased complexity in the integrated national grid, and as a result the instances of power shortage/ disruptions can only escalate for

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

A former Modi ally, Prashant Kishor wanted to enter Congress 'on contract, as trader'

By Anand Sahay*  The Congress Party and the election campaigns specialist Prashant Kishor, whose company has done strategic communications for a host of political parties across ideology, should both count themselves lucky that they could not reach an agreement for Kishor to join the party. News reports suggest that the Congress rejected Kishor’s terms. This is not wholly unexpected. People join a party because they are attracted to it, and wish to serve it in any capacity that the party may see fit. But that isn’t Kishor at all. He gave the impression of entering into a contract, as a trader might. If news reports are to be believed, he sought freedom to report directly to party chief Sonia Gandhi, and sought untrammeled control over party communications. When such ideas did not find favour, the consultant withdrew. It is clear he has no particular love for the Congress, and its ideas, ideology and politics. In contrast, look at the key personae in G-23. They

Dalit scholar's comment on Lord Shiva 'harming' Muslims, 'damaging' secular cause

Shahid Siddiqui, Bobby Naqvi By Our Representative   Bobby Naqvi, who is with the "Gulf News", and is a well-known name among Muslim intellectuals, strongly objecting to the social media post of Prof Ratan Lal, has said that "a big reason for majoritarian hatred against Muslims is irresponsible remarks by people like Prof Ratan Lal of Delhi University." In a Facebook comment , which has attracted paise, among others, from journaliat-politician Shahid Siddiqui, Naqvi said, "Their commentary on Hinduism and icons of Hinduism (while angering religious and liberal Hindus alike) also triggers a massive backlash against Muslims. When the likes of Prof Lal criticize Hinduism on social media, Hindus bring Islam and Islamic practices and ask 'what about this' or 'what about that'." Naqvi insists, "Muslims (without their fault) and Islam get caught in this crossfire between the so called Hindu liberal class and the religious Hindus. And the ult

Haven't done a good deed, inner soul is cursing me as sinner: Aurangzeb's last 'will'

Counterview Desk The Tomb of Aurangzeb, the last of the strong Mughal emperors, located in Khuldabad, Aurangabad district, Maharashtra, has this epitaph inscribed on it: "Az tila o nuqreh gar saazand gumbad aghniyaa! Bar mazaar e maa ghareebaan gumbad e gardun bas ast" (the rich may well construct domes of gold and silver on their graves. For the poor folks like me, the sky is enough to shelter my grave).