… is what works.
I have started in a rather not-understandable manner. But the idea was to keep me grounded to what I am writing and not deviate with so many things going on in mind.
Good things do not seem to happen very often in the world. There are principles for which people have been fighting for long. Equality (economic, social, gender based etc.), democracy, justice and many others. Still, the real world often seems to make a mockery of all of them. Don’t many of us wonder why so?
Well, I think there are two stages to bringing a change – could very much be overlapping. The idea is to conceptually and operationally differentiate the two and not necessarily temporally. These two are getting a change accepted in principle and actually bringing about those changes. While in time, the two stages could be overlapping, it is important to realize that the operational issues related to the two are different. And unfortunately, in many of cases we are tempted to restrict our efforts, or largely deviate our energy, to the kind of efforts which are suitable for the first stage. We talk of a large scale movement, of awareness, of demanding from the highest authority of the society/country, of making it big all the time. Now, these are the things which would be necessary to get a new idea accepted in principle. So, for example, this is the kind of effort you need to put in of you wanted to make sure that constitution guarantees equality to everyone in 1947, irrespective of class/caste/creed/gender etc. This is the kind of effort you need to put in if you wanted the government to recognize that before setting up a large industry, you need to think of rehabilitation of natives at those places in 1960s and 1970s. This is the kind of effort which will be fruitful, if the government is not taking a strict enough position in opposing the war in Iraq in 2003. This is the kind of effort that was required if you wanted the capitalists and industrialists of 19th and early 20th century to accept that workforce can not put under inhumane circumstances. But what beyond all this? Now constitution has guaranteed the equality, rehabilitation and environmental concerns are well recognized and labour laws are in place. (I will keep the Iraq war aside) Probably you can get some more made, but I wonder if that would matter.
Things do not move beyond this because we expect the effect to be top-down. We think that labour laws will be automatically and unconditionally followed, the equality should be guaranteed because the constitution is in place and probably we accept that rehabilitation should be done because the government at the centre has a ministry of the environment. Worst than that, even if we realize that some effort has to go on in the direction of making things happen, we put our energy in the same kind of wide-scale macro efforts. But this does not take us any further because the issues are already accepted in principle. If we keep finding the fault in every government at the centre and the state for not getting things done and all we do ourselves is to do wide-scale work, it just is not going to work. I am not trying to say that the government is right in whichever way it is behaving. Just that, given what the situation is and even otherwise the way to get things in practice is different. Implementation has to come at a micro level. Gender equality is in place, but not the best government of the world can do anything more about it at the national level, because for implementation the equality has to come at a level as small as family, then the school in the locality and then the family in the next city where the girl will be married. There is no point cribbing about all the labour laws being violated by taking an all India rally ending at Delhi. Go to the plant, find out what’s going on, get the local authorities in action (and if rallies are needed for that, sure go ahead – but first build the local pressure), hear both the sides, get a suitable plan to address the concerns of both the sides and get in implemented. Its not easy, certainly not as easy as cribbing before the government. You have to get people who can figure out the solutions to individual problems. You need expertise, but you have to get it if you really want the problem to be solved. The article titled “What to do”, which I have put up on my homepage, probably gives some idea into this catching the person at home or next door way.
Many of the things we are fighting for today, around us, are in similar state of affairs. Accepted in principle, nowhere in practice. Shall we move to “Macro principles, Micro implementations”. It will help!