Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Debate and discuss...

“Unity In Diversity”. Any child who has attended school in India would be taught to use these words to describe India and appreciate her diverse languages , cultures etc. However it seems that we haven’t been taught to appreciate the diversity of thoughts and opinions of people. An opinion that doesn’t stick to the norm is often crushed and the person with any such opinion is made to retract.

Take the case of Shashi Tharoor and his latest controversy regarding his opinion on India’s foreign policy during the Nehru era. Sections of the media have rejected his opinion because it is against the policies of our founding father. However no one really thought of engaging him in a meaningful debate and discussing why he said whatever he did. I repeat in every of my posts that we need to think and debate if we are to grow intellectually as a nation. If we decide to suppress the opinion of the Shashi Tharoors and Jaswant Singhs we would end up much poorer.

I want to discuss the role of media in this case. First they seek out for an honest politician and when such a man does come, they drive him away. Mr Tharoor is an expert in his field and has served a countless number of years in the UN. He understands what he is speaking of and is not merely reading a speech prepared by his writer. While the US discusses Roosevelt and Lincoln, we simply seem to shudder at the thought of discussing the rights and wrongs of the Nehrus and Gandhis. The point to be understood here is the no one is out there to question the contribution of these leaders or lessen their historical importance. It is just a revaluation of our decisions that would help us avoid past mistakes. Since these decisions include several foreign policy matters , it assumes even more importance in the current scenario when in an every shrinking world , we need to carefully coordinate with other countries both politically and economically .These discussions and debates are also a means of learning for our politicians. Mr Tharoor himself would agree that he is not correct all the time and hence when we can influence him for the better through discussions , he would discharge his duties much better. Driving him away though smear campaigns certainly doesn’t help.

I also strongly believe that political parties need to be more tolerant to the views of their members. When they disagree with a member they can merely say that the views of the individual do not conform to operating principle or ideology of the party. We certainly understand that Mr Tharoor does not single handedly decide India’s foreign policy and the Ministry of External Affairs comprises of several people who would discusses the ideas with him. In my opinion , all Mr Tharoor was doing was to voice his ideas and opinion to the rest of us . We don’t want political parties to treat people like cattle and march them in a line. We want a set of people who agree to disagree and who at the end of the day can negotiate and chalk out the smartest policies and decisions.

When we are finally seeing good politicians enter the fray, we don’t want trivialities to drive them away.

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