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Social and political Values and Systems in India.

Requirements for the creation of a Civil Society


As Aristotle, the ancient Greek philosopher, has pointed out, a human being is a social animal. If he does not live with men and amongst men, then surely either he is god or beast. While living with the fellow-beings, one aspires to a live stress-free and peaceful life with dignity and honor. For that, there is a need to create a civil society. Some of the basic requirements for it are –

  • Creating ‘systems’ – For organizing and performing various activities within society systematically, every civil society creates some ‘systems’ in the form of set rules/laws/procedures/customs/traditions/rituals. ‘Systems’ are nothing but means or manner to do a job on a regular in orderly way. It keeps order and harmonious relationships within a society and creates atmosphere for smooth interaction of inter-related/inter-dependent ideas/principles/activities.

  • Positive thinking – For the creation of a positive sosiety, the fundamental requirement is positive thinking. All  its members should be trained to act with ‘samatva budhhi’ (balanced mind) and  ‘Samarpan buddhi’ (without an intention to satisfy one’s own ego or else’s ego), following ‘Swadharma Buddhi’ (Path of righteousness), ‘Asang buddhi’ (non attachment to the result of action) and ‘Prasad buddhi’ (whatever comes, accept it). Positive attitude towards life inculcate in human beings qualities like sincerity hard-work, honesty and uprightness. It inspires them to lead a civilized life.  

  • Self-discipline – Discipline can not be enforced. No outside agency, whether a person, a group of individuals or an institution can keep twenty-four hours vigil on activities of all the people at all the time. It needs to develop the habit of self-introspection amongst its people and listen the voice of their own conscience before taking any action. For creating a civil society, there is a need to inspire all its members, irrespective of caste, class, creed or color, to lead a self- disciplined life.

  • Fear of punishment – Fear of punishment can not always compel individuals to obey all the dictats of superior authorities contrary to their ambitions or desires, more so in a democratic society.  Any kind of due/undue pressure or use of force in the name of rules, regulations or morality is unacceptable to people. It can control to some extent for some time people’s unruly behaviour. Spirit of self-discipline amongst all its members is more desirable  for creating a civil society or maintaining an  order withinin the society on sustainable basis rather than using pressure tactics for it.

  • Knowledge and awareness – Indian philosophy considers that only knowledgeable persons could distinguish correctly between action, forbidden action, and in-action.i It enables individuals to understand what is right and what is wrong. Knowledge, wisdom and awareness prepare people to become responsible citizens.  Even a wise man without knowledge might get puzzled about his course of action.

  • Knowledge that acts -Knowledge is essential to understand the real nature and importance of any activity and to act rationally. Khalil Gibran says that  “A little knowledge that acts is worth more than much knowledge that is inactive. … Knowledge, the object of knowledge and application of the knowledge – all the three are equally important for motivating to take a wise action.”

  • Right and Wrong– Right and wrong are relative terms. Its total configuration depends on the following four variables –

    1. Desa (region) –  Culture of a place, in which a person is born.
    2. Kala (time) – Period of historical time, in which a person is born.
    3. Shrama (Effort) – Efforts required of him at different stages of Life, and
    4. Guna (Quality) – Aptitude and innate psycho-biological traits.
  • Education and training – Sound systems education and training make a person knowledgeable, wise and aware. It guides people to understand ‘right’ and ‘wrong’/’do’s and ‘don’ts’. It helps in inculcating right kind of attitudes, habits and skills and guide people to lead a quality of life.

  • Automatic systems of checks and balances – A civil society needs to generate automatic systems of checks and balances. Arbitrary use of rights/power or authority (based on the strength of force, wealth or knowledge) or its discretionary use (based on the assumption/mindset that one is free to do anything, one’s wishes, “Meri marzi”) needs to be checked.

  • Practice what one preaches others to do – It is easy to preach others how to live or correct their manners, but very difficult to follow it oneself. Clear-cut awareness about one’s rights and duties develops in people a clear vision about the limits of their liberties as well as of their responsibilities. If followed sincerely, it automatically generates its own system of checks and balances over arbitrary use of authority.

  • ‘Rights’ and ‘duties’ – A civil society needs a balance between rights and duties. Rights and duties so strongly inter-twined with each other and can co-exist together. Without one, the other becomes worthless/meaningless. Rights of one person become duties for others and others rights, duties for that person. People should learn to pay, if not more then equal, attention to both – their rights as well as their duties/responsibilities. They must enjoy their own rights and in the similar way let others enjoy the same.

  • Balance between ‘Rights’ and ‘duties’ – Western societies have grown around the idea of “rights”. Rights form natural foundation for inter- relationship there. In India, more stress is laid on ‘duties’. Social systems have been evolved around the concept of “duty, tolerance and sacrifice”. Sacrifice has been regarded far more important than success and renunciation as the crowning achievement.

  • Tolerance – Emphasis on duty usually makes a person or a group humble and tolerant. In the past, it prevents people from taking law into their own hands. While many nations had passed through bloody revolutions in the past, in India, people had adjusted themselves to most drastic changes, without much of violence.

  • Trend of materialism and consumerism in modern times has led the people to believe that they have all the rights/freedom to do anything that pleases or is convenient to them without any hinderance. In their enthusiasm, they forget that equally important are their duties so that others can also enjoy the same kind of freedom.

  • Balance between ‘give and take’ – As Gandhiji used to say, nature has given enough for everybody’s need, but not enough for a person’s greed. For the growth of a self-contained and self-regulated society, the principle of “To each according to his needs and from each according to his capacity” works. In any civil society, there is no place for the greed, cut-throat competition, overriding, undercutting, letting others down or mocking others’ dream.

  • Rule of Law – In a civil society rule of law must prevail. As Kaka Kalelkar had pointed out in his first backward class Commission that in the eyes of the law of the nation, no identity other than an individual shall come in between people and State authorities. “National solidarity in a democratic set up demands Government to recognize only two ends – the individual at one end and the nation as a whole at the other. Nothing should be encouraged to organize itself in between these two ends to the detriment of the freedom of the individual and solidarity of the nation. All communal and denominational organizations and groupings of lesser and narrower units have to be watched carefully, so that they do not jeopardize the national solidarity and do not weaken the efforts of the nation to serve the various elements in the body politic with equity. Mutual help, mutual respect and mutual trust are the touchstone, on which all communal and denominational activities will be tested and anything that undermines it, will be expected and brought to book.ii

Following all these principles is easier said than done. But it is a fact of life that in a civil society, it is the thoughts, deeds and words of all individuals within a society, that matters and leads to the sustainable development of a society.

i Bhagwat Gita, IV 14,15,16,and 17

ii BCC I, para IV.

July 10, 2011 - Posted by | Social and political values and systems |

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