Wednesday, March 22, 2023

It is not nature alone: humans too for unity and not for uniformity

I was for a moment taken aback and intrigued as I saw a short write up in a column The Speaking Tree in “The Times of India” dated June 9th, 2021, with a caption Nature is All for Unity Not Uniformity by Bhupender Yadav, national general secretary of the Bhartiya Janata Party and a Rajya Sabha member. As I started to read,I thought that Ishould respond to it. The writer starts with a brief description of the world in which he says “In the present world, dignity a basic tenet of civilised life, is ensured by humanism, as knowledge and technology have given impetus to equality and independent in thoughts, logic and dialectics.”
We keep uttering words such as civilised life, humanism, know-how in science and technology contributing to equality, independence in our thought process leveraging logic and dialectics and many others. But in reality,and in practical terms they have brought naught as we experience xenophobia, hatred, lynching, irrationality, human divides treating a huge sections of humanity as lesser humans which is antithetical to humanism. The current world is infested with misogynistic, xenophobic, casteist, religious fanatism and racist tendencies. As we progress and advance our ways of living and thinking our country and society should echo and manifest civility and humanity in all its practices and thought processes.
Coming to globalization which many including the writer says “… globalisation has attempted to implement the same knowledge and reasoning irrespective of cultural differences and geographical distances.” Many conceived in its initial period as “global village”, “Vasudhaiva Kodambakkam”, “One global Mall” and so on. In addition to it, Thomas L. Friedman, a columnist and a prolific writter of par excellence whose book The World is Flat: The Globalized World in the 21st Century … argues that the forces of globalization are gradually making the world flat and in the process via technology is creating aunifying world by transmitting knowledge to people across the world – unifying the fragmented world into one.
The forces of globalization have not flattened, rather fragmented the world. Globalization has not unified the world, but widened the gap between the haves and have-nots. The writer while unfolding argues that “The root cause of the problem-mistaking uniformity for unity – is the presumption that all human beings are the same, therefore, their needs, aspirations and goals would be similar. In the process, we are doing away with diversity and depriving people of the very identities that distinguish them.” This is what some political parties doing in India as well.
He further substantiates that “Unity is when we are one in mind and spirit. Uniformity is achieved when all believe and practice likewise.” There is no doubt that we are all humans, but simply by being humans our mind and spirit need not be the same including our belief-system and practices because of the fact that they are influenced by many factors. Over-simplification drastically leads to reductionism. Take for instance, our cognitive behaviouris influenced by the social milieu and economic status we belong to, cultural ethos and religious mooringwe subscribe to. By virtue of being born as humans does not mean that we are all one, but are different including in spirit.
It is easy to say that we should acknowledge the differences as every human being is unique in his or her own ways, but when it comes to reality, we tend to invoke binaries such as “I” – “You”, “We” – “They”. The essence of globalization is to bring about integration of diverse economies into one global economic system; homogenization of culture such as eating, dressing, education, life-style cutting across borders. Likewise, there are a few political parties in the world such as BJP-RSS play with binaries such as Majority Vs Minority, Aryan Vs Dravidian, Hindu Vs Muslim, Hindu Vs Christian, North Vs South and so on.“Unity in diversity” is a noble ideal, but the world in which we exist does not function in that way and so it is just a utopia and a slogan. In recent times, the United States, India and others is filled with hatred, lynching, ethnic cleaning, xenophobia, honour-killing, gender and racial discrimination. Where then the civility in the world we live?
Further, the author reiterates that “The imposed uniformity in the past when we have dictatorship and restrained democracy did not let ideas, belief and view blossom. Unity embraces and acknowledges contrasts, dissents and variations, and promotes a prosperous coexistence. We may be different, but we can exist, work and thrive together. Unity is not available if we aim for uniformity. The pursuance of uniformity can chase people away from each other and give rise to mutual suspicion.” It makes me to wonder whether the writer for the sake of hoodwinking the readers he is writing like this or genuine because the party he belongs to and its cultural outfit have failed to subscribe to whatever the writer is saying.
India believes in Unity in Diversity and not in Unity in Uniformity. This is civilizational that adds to the ethos of plurality of India. India’s ethos is constructed on multiplicity of religious and belief systems, social and cultural heterogeneities, communitarian ethos built around “live and let-live” and “mutual co-existence”. India is built on federal structure and so the Centre and the States with their autonomies ought to co-exist without intruding into the autonomy of the state governments. Nationalism and regionalism are complex words. They can be twisted to suit and advance the political ends of those in power. One should be cautious in the usage of nationalism and regionalism as they are politically, culturally and religiously loaded terms.
In conclusion the author reiterates that “To enjoy peace and prosperity, we must acknowledge that we are not identical. We must also recognise that we, who are different, must come together with each other to strengthen our societies and enrich our surroundings. Unity is thus central to our life form that is rich because it is diverse.” Ideally it sounds good, but practically it is like an impossible possibility, because the ruling dispensation that reigns the GOI believes in “unity in uniformity”, and not in “unity in diversity”.
Dr. I. John Mohan Razu, Professor of Social Ethics

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