The answer to almost any problem emerges ultimately from the quality of a people. For example, one of the reasons why Dehradun is among the more livable cities in India is because of the large number of good schools it has, which means anybody who has lived here for long enough has had a decent education. Therefore, in one to one interactions, people almost always behave in a civilised manner, which compensates enormously for the stressed infrastructure, vanishing greenery and overbearing presence of government. Many challenges are nipped in the bud simply because even the poorest and least influential members of society have the capacity to respond to developing situations in a civilised manner.
Be it the response to terrorism, communal discord, or economic challenges, the overall quality of the individual matters. If people have a proper perspective on issues, are well informed and have a stake in the larger good, they are able to take the initiative on solving problems much sooner and more effectively than those who are not. This is the strength of democracy, essentially, which more autocratic and totalitarian societies find hard to understand and underestimate. As such, those who despair at terrorists, anti-nationals and their supporters taking advantage of India’s constitutional structure, safeguards and guaranteed human rights, should also realise that these ‘frailties’ are also the source of the nation’s strength. People must not just keep their faith in the seemingly ‘soft’ response to major challenges, but also play their role accordingly. The tendency to seek short-cut solutions at the cost of the basic system should be curbed.
When institutions of state are provided autonomy and have trust reposed in them, they tend to auto-correct. Often, aberrations creep in because of individual shortcomings or outdated sub-systems and these certainly need to be addressed. Yet, to rail against democracy for invented reasons, or the sake of personal or community interests, is reprehensible and indicative of cultural and educational shortcomings. So, for some, Indian democracy is bourgeois, deserving of being taken down by use of force, while others find it suddenly becoming ‘majoritarian’ and, therefore, flawed. Some are happy to blame the EVMs. Those who call for maintaining the diversity in India’s unity seem to forget that it is only because the diversity exists that they are even able to say so.
So much of today’s problems are in the mind, as even basic bread and butter issues are greatly dependent on how they are tackled. The difference between a brainwashed people and those with more sophisticated mental programming is simply the introduction to varied thoughts and ideas at the earliest stages. This is why the contribution of education to the quality of society is possibly the greatest. It should not only be universally available, but also be as deep and sophisticated as possible. It is the people, ultimately, who make the nation.