By Amar Yumnam
What matters most in sustaining a society? What makes a thriving society different from the one failing to evolve into a higher order? What should be the driving spirit of a society? What binds a society together in her forward movement? It is ultimately Idea that matters. Every society is taken forward and sustained in a cohesive way only by the Idea that drives the members in all their endeavours. Vietnam is now making waves and making tremendous progress because of the idea of nation that binds the people together. China is now the most respected country of the world because of the landmark speed of prosperity driven by the collective spirit of her. What distinguishes the United States of America is the idea of American dwelling in every mind of the country. The Roman civilization had declined because of the cumulative corruption of the Idea that originally led to the emergence of that very civilization. The Soviet Union had collapsed because the original Idea was increasingly compromised and could not continue to be the functional force. The changes in Eastern Europe during the last decade or so to speak of the changes undergoing in the composition and orientation of ideas as the earlier ones could not take the people and countries forward. These institutional changes are eminently important in ensuring and sustaining a population and a country.
Core Elements: One thing we have to be clear in our mind about the nature of the Idea. The core elements of it remain the same but the functioning dimensions undergo multiplication. Here we must note the recent book by two Harvard scholars explaining why rising complexity of a society is a pre-eminent indicator of the capability of that country to move forward. Here a word on the meaning of complexity is important. By complexity they do not by any means imply the population groups becoming increasingly rogue and widespread emergence of hooliganism and extortionism as ruling behaviour of social functioning. It also does not imply use of threat, almost to the extent of elimination of life, by groups claiming to be social thinkers in order to get outcomes of any action in their favour and the state remaining a silent spectator of all these. By complexity they mean increasing diversity of socio-economic functioning, evolution of newer ways of performance based on deepening of knowledge and new institutions to take care of the newer issues. Most sophisticated functions previously unimagined would now be performed as of routine. The ideal atmosphere for such complexities to emerge and evolve successful solutions is the prevalence of democracy. This kind of rising complexity and the successful address of it lead to sustained progress of the society. This trajectory of progress is taking roots today in all the countries where meaningful positive development is taking place. Here everybody would find a place for meaningful social participation in activities suited to each. In these countries, there would be no attempt by non-literates, half-literates and pseudo-literates to occupy the social space for knowledge and dictate terms for others. They would definitely occupy a meaningful place in the society but would never behave as social thinkers, leaders in knowledge arena and directors of knowledge creation. They would certainly have their cravings for knowledge and these would be attended to responsibly by individuals specifically trained for the purpose.
At a moment when I am engrossed with the idea that is ruling our land I happened to take an air travel occupying a window seat recently and all by myself. Flying into a metropolis at thirty-six thousand feet above, the residential places look like dead bodies of large worms or concrete remains of a long lost civilisation. The beauty and grace become evident, however, as the aircraft descends and gets closer to the ground. Now it is possible to see the attractiveness of a metropolis and this becomes stronger as the surface movement starts in a car.
A society anywhere must be much more than this. It should be charming and attractive from afar and should be irresistible from near. This can be so when the competition is based fundamentally on knowledge in that society and the cultural foundations are respected. There are ways and principles of interaction in any society, and these have been evolved over decades if not centuries. These fundamental norms should be honoured even while performing new functions. This is because the core strengths of any society are to be retained even in new realities in order to make the positive changes sustainable. The problem of a society having production gaps is always more acute and problematic than a rich society. But the production gaps can be addressed only by filling knowledge gaps and instilling new ideas in order to take care of the object gaps. Gaps in production (object gaps) cannot be filled up meaningfully only by additional objects. The fundamental solution for a long term address of social issues lies in the building of capacity for creation of new knowledge, and never in rising density of rogue indulgence.
Our society needs an active and involved application of mind on what is the idea of Manipur that we would like us to lead into the future. The future is already here, and we cannot afford our main preoccupation to be something else.