(published in Millennium Post Edit page August 2, 2013)
India is destined for greatness. But where will this greatness come from? Is it only the government of a country that can lead it to greatness? Is it only the political leaders that can forge the destiny of a nation? No. The true greatness of any nation lies in its people.
There is potential for greatness in every citizen of the land. For the true owners of our nation are its citizens. Government is only the custodian of the nation and is there exclusively to serve the people of the country. This is what a true democracy should be like. However, for a true democracy to thrive, the citizens have to play a larger role and fulfil their duties towards the nation.
The most famous line from US President John F Kennedy’s inaugural address is, ‘Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.’ What is this but a call for citizens to rise to the occasion and do their duty? What we in India many times tend to forget is that while the Constitution of India gives us several fundamental and other rights, it also has prescribed a set of Fundamental Duties in Article 51(A).
The purpose here is not to list these out as a simple Google search can reveal them in more detail to anyone interested. However, what is important is for us to understand the concept of citizen’s ownership. If you go to any of the world’s great countries and look at the progress and development made in these places, you will see that it is not just the role of government, but also the role of citizen. It is from the citizenry that political leaders emerge and they cannot be divorced from people. In a true democracy, the leaders that the people get are the leaders that they deserve. If we simply sit in our drawing rooms and debate about the quality of leadership this country has, we will achieve nothing. We have to take an active role in creating a new type of leadership in the country.
As mentioned earlier, it is the citizens who are the owners of the nation, but they need to act like owners. Here ownership means to play their part in building the nation. It is the citizens of any nation that are the true nation builders. Leaders are not only political. There are leaders in the fields of business, education, social service, science and technology, literature, arts, music, sports, entertainment, etc. They are all doing their duty to the nation by using their talent to not only bring glory to the nation, but also to highlight important issues that are important to tackle in order to make the country into a better place.
How can this be achieved? It can be done in a variety of ways. Just strive to live each and every day with the intention of using your talent and resources to help improve the nation in any way.
For the concept of duties to become strong, educating the youth of the country is of paramount importance. Here education is not only formal education in schools and colleges. Education means focusing on youth at home and in the workplace as well. In formal education, civics and moral science should be taught with the same fervour and importance as maths, science, economics and English. A sound foundation of good citizenship and ethics is crucial for the better future of the country.
Parents need to teach their children the importance of obeying laws and being patriotic. Being patriotic is not only about respecting the national anthem and flag, it is also about living your life for the betterment of your world and in particular your country. Children need to learn and be encouraged to express their talents and skills and consider themselves as a national asset. Every citizen is an asset that needs to be developed.
Our citizens could be the one discovering the cure for AIDS, finding cheaper and cleaner ways to produce energy efficiently, discovering ways to solve the problem of water and food, inventing new technologies in various fields, creating new industry that can provide employment to millions, and so on. This is why it is important to inculcate the spirit of creative thinking and entrepreneurship keeping in mind the development of the nation at the foundation of any endeavour.
All this will happen when people start to think about their country first. Instead of envying other countries, they should strive to make India prosperous. Things you do for your country do not have to be big, small things can lead to bigger chain reaction.
Whether you start a small business, write an article, teach a child, shop at local stores with local goods, not pollute, participate in cleanliness drives, create a work of art, volunteer for some social cause etc, you are performing your duty as a citizen. You are contributing to the consciousness of community development and this will begin the process of change. Considering that most young people spend most of their time at school or work, it is also important for teachers and employers to inculcate a sense of patriotism and duty into the hearts and minds of young people.
For it is the youth who is the future of the country. Some day, the older generation will be gone and it is today’s young generation that will be tomorrow’s leaders in various fields. Do not be discouraged by the present state of affairs in the country. Don’t let anybody say that things cannot change. They can. Do your bit starting today. Plant the seed of greatness now and some day it will blossom into a tree of national pride.