INDIA EMPOWERED TO ME IS Doing away with the idea of exclusivity I K GUJRAL, FORMER PRIME MINISTER THE INDIAN EXPRESS Thursday, August 18, 2005
Empowerment is a philosophical and historical process. It began with the French Revolution and continued with many others, particularly the Russian Revolution. Its philosophy and progress took birth after the Industrial Revolution, which is perhaps the most significant revolution as it triggered many things, particularly the concept of empowerment for the depressed sections of society. The most significant concept the Industrial Revolution gave us was the idea of educating workers, as it could not make workers productive without education.
A new impediment is the idea of exclusivity: those who have entered the empowered circle do not want more to come in. Coalition governments are an effort for inclusiveness so that those regions and segments of society, whose presence in legislature is small, get an opportunity to participate in governments. While many cynically point out to the absurdity of two-member parties, I look at this trend positively as it is an attempt to eradicate this unevenness. Democracy as an institution is meant to pursue the process of empowerment of those who are denied their rights, all the time. However, disempowerment in the name of history, culture, caste or gender is not confined to India alone, even countries in Europe and South America are still giving the right to vote. In West Asia and the Islamic world, large populations still do not participate in the empowerment process. In an ideal society, only governments alone cannot accomplish this progress, it requires a re-education of society. Fortunately, the emphasis on the importance of a scientific temper is a concept which is entrenched in our society, from Buddha to Gandhi. Scientific temper basically means the courage to be self-critical.