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Empowerment and self reliance

“Knowledge is power. Information is liberating” Kofi Annan

“Life is to be lived, not controlled” Barrack Obama

“Paradheen sapnehu sukh naahi’  (Dependence can never bring happiness, not even in dreams)    Tulsi Das

Introduction – It is a simple law of the nature that in almost every sphere of life – be it social, economic or political – there are two ends, giving/controlling end and asking/begging end. People at giving end are considered empowered. They exercise control over other’s behavior. People at asking end are considered as sub-merged/vulnerable sections of society. They always remain dependent on the former group for every thing. For empowerment, they must learn to become self-reliant and develop their personality/capacity to such an extent that they can also give something worthwhile to other persons, to  society and to the nation.

Close connection between empowerment and self-reliance – There is a very close connection between empowerment and self-reliance. Empowerment leads to enlightenment. In simple words, in real life empowerment provides freedom from any kind of fear or feeling of insecurity, dependability on other, asking favors from others, or some impoverished groups asking for positions in the echelons of power.

No connection between empowerment and position of power – Empowerment does not mean occupying few positions of power in society or in the government.  To empower oneself, one does not need to become a ‘PM’, ‘CM’ (holding, important positions in political institutions), ‘GM’ (occupying crucial positions in public or private sectors), or ‘DM’ (appointed in influential positions in bureaucracy)’.

True empowerment – On the basis of experiences of many generations, every society sets a code of conduct in the form of social values, customs, traditions and rituals for the betterment of common men living in a society, which should not be discarded/rejected out-rightly by the present generation. Instead these norms should be regularly evaluated rationally according to the pressing/changing needs of the modern society.

Morality can not be enforced – The code of conduct, also known as mannerism/morality, or values (like self reliance, self-discipline, self-confidence) can neither be enforced by moral policing, nor can inculcated by reading text-books, nor can it be tested by conducting written examinations. They are learnt by art of living. While social values/morality is concerned with self-discipline. Moral policing forces discipline on others. Morality can not be forced upon people, which basically depends on developing decentralized self-regulated systems – be it in social, political religious or economic life of an individual.

Difference between morality and moral policing – The basic difference between social values/norms and moral policing is that unadulterated social values, morality, mannerism and norms are based on reason and experiences of many generations. It helps people to improve their behavior by making conscious efforts for self-control, self-direction and self-discipline. On the other hand, moral policing expects or forces others to behave. Morality leads to peaceful co-existence, while moral policing generates agitation/protests in people’s minds. Morality teaches individuals to exercise self-restraint in all respect, be it in the matter of daily routine, occupation or social relationship, and moral policing tempts individuals to control the destiny of others, especially of vulnerable people, or sections of society.

Guardians of morality? – Code of conduct is not something which could be decided or opined at one point of time and make it applicable to all at all the time or which can be propagated by self-styled Messiahs of a society. Politicians, government, religious gurus, powerful lobby of elders or self-styled reformists can not become the guardian of social values/culture. Their role in a civilized society is that of facilitators. They are supposed to inculcate positive attitude, good values and thinking by creating friendly atmosphere and arranging a sound system of education.

Stress on ‘rights’ – ‘Rights’ in general forms the natural foundation of human relationships in modern societies, especially of western countries. Advanced nations have succeeded in creating systems, which are applied effectively to keep a check on arbitrary behavior of people and developing respect for ‘rule of law’. Eastern societies have been evolved around the concept of ‘duties’. According to the tradition and culture of India, doctrines of Dharma and Karma define rights and duties of different sections of society. It gives to people an abiding sense of purpose to life, an aim to be actively striven for, cutting across class distinctions and regional boundaries, bridging the distance between rural and urban folk and between the illiterate and educated.

Both the systems desires something more – Both the systems leaves something more to be desired. Too much importance to rights, though gives more opportunities to enjoy life, but it tends to make individuals selfish, arrogant and unmindful of others conveniences. More stress on duties tends to make people too humble, tolerant and submissive even to raise their voice against excesses and trains people in obedience without questioning.

How to empower individuals – Empowerment can be achieved by proper upbringing within the family followed by a sound system of education. A  proper system of education and training needs to be devised for empowering the weak, ignorant, illiterate and unskilled persons by making them confident, aware, knowlegable, as well as employable citizens of the country. It would develop in them the capacity to stand on ones own feet and to take their own decisions without any crutches or other outside support/help.

Conclusion – To empower the weaker sections of society, the role of government, intelligentsia and leaders should be that of a facilitator. It is advisable that they should ensure the participation of all sections of society in performing their task effectively and function in co-operation and co-ordination with the common men of the country. Then only it would achieve its targets within time and cost parameters.

People should regularly give a feed back to the institutions responsible for the bringing up marginalised sections of society. Those in power should be accountable, transparent and accessible to common man. It should involve all sections of society in the task of empowering the submerged sections of society. Police-force, planners and policy-makers, service providers, transport authorities, community groups, residents groups and NGO’s to make collective efforts to ensure safety, security and make their areas a better place to live in. Once it is done, people would automatically become empowered.

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January 14, 2013 - Posted by | General |

11 Comments »

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