winds of change-part III-Domestic strategy-ch 30-1

As I see it, the process of change will have to be carried to a variety of spheres like education, politics, administration, com­munity living and so on. Essentially the process would involve preparing the minds of our people to receive and adapt themselves to the elements of a new modern society based on rational thought. If we succeed in this, and succeed we must, we would be able to create a feeling of oneness among the people. The intolerance and narrow loyalties which create dangerous strains in the social fabric of the country cannot be dispelled unless rational thoughts and a sense of belonging to one nation reign supreme in the minds of the people.

I would like to make a special mention of certain tendencies which constitute a growing threat to the very basic idea of our democracy. We adopted the system of democratic government because such a government alone will be responsive to wishes of the people. Governmental policies and programmes can lead to fulfillment of people's desires and aspirations only when such a government is subject to their verdict. Democracy essentially involves a dialogue between the people to arrive at a consensus. It naturally presupposes the existence of differences of opinion. With the fullest possible freedom of thought and expression, each one of us is free to expound his own ideas about different problems and policies. But at the same time it presupposes tolerance on our part to put up with differences and also a discipline to respect the supreme position of the people as the court of last resort. A democracy will be thwarted by intolerance. Our recent experience makes us apprehensive about the growth of this undesir­able element. There seems to be an increasing proneness to take the issues to the streets and express disagreements in a violent manner. Appropriate action will have to be taken on a large scale to counter this threat. We will have to go all out to reach the people, to enlighten them and to convince them of the supreme position that discussions and debates enjoy in a democracy in reconciling differences.

Another factor which causes anxiety to all of us is the growth of regional outlook and narrow loyalties. Our history bears a sad but educative testimony to the fact that internal rivalries had always sapped the strength of our nation. Our first united fight as one nation was against the Britishers. When we won, we rejoiced in our independence. But after that we seem to be drifting apart. There seems to be a growing tendency in us to think more in terms of regions, castes, language groups, etc. than as a nation. Inter-regional rivalry could be welcome if it is healthy and leads to accelerated development of the country. But inter-regional hatred, which these mushrooming Senas seem to represent, is a threat to the basic concept of national solidarity.

Another problem which has been causing anxiety to us is the growing lack of communal and religious harmony. We have given to ourselves a secular Constitution. Secularism aims at treating religion as essentially a personal affair of the citizen and thus ensuring that public policies or the policies of the Government are not based on the dictates of temporal authorities. This naturally does not suit those who would like the Government policies to be based on religious dictums rather than on rational and scientific thoughts.