Importance of Debate in Changing the World

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“Honest disagreement is often a good sign of progress.” — Mahatma Ghandi

There are many things which are supposed to have a long lasting impact on world. Inventions, discoveries, ideas, thoughts, philosophy, culture and so on. In this article it is discussed if debate also playS as important role in changing the world?

Local vs Universal Ideas
People have different opinions on how things were, are and should be in future because they have different ideas, thoughts, experiences and culture. When they express their opinions, some may agree, some not.

It is interesting to note that their some ideas are accepted and shared by culturally and geographically connected people. For example, lifestyle, food, literature and music. These ideas and differences are easy to accept by outsiders as well and over a period of time the differences either diminish or a hybrid culture is formed which is acceptable to all leading to the evolution of culture.

Another type of ideas, which are more universal, generally bypass cultural and geographical differences and are shared even by un-connected population around the world. For example human rights, ethics and values. Universal ideas play a very important role in changing the world or forming the future of human race. If differences exist between people they may be difficult to resolve and accept.

Debate and Discussion
A debate is the discussion between two or more people of differing thoughts and ideas. It also is a platform where issues arising out of these differences can be resolved or accepted without retorting to other non-peaceful methods. When debate fails or the argument remains unresolved, there is quite a possibility of tension between two parties which may lead to violence as has happened in the past. History is flooded with such examples where, due to the lack of proper discussion and debate, grave misunderstandings have caused battles and wars. In today’s world where countries possess huge power of destruction, debate and discussion is far more important and needs to be encouraged at local and global level.

Debate and Development of Youth
Debate as an exercise is quite popular in schools and universities where competitions take place and winners are decided. Debate also takes place on social media and plays a vital role in forming an opinion.

Debate teaches three basic things:
1. Discussion and interaction while respecting other’s opinions
2. Thinking and researching on the subject so as to try to understand the truth from reliable sources
3. Developing genuine thoughts and opinions

Thus, in a way, debate teaches young people to think, question, research and respect other’s opinions. This is very important for the growth of society beacuse, local and universal ideas and differences, are important to be understood in young age. Such differences, even if they exist, must be gladly resolved and accepted.

Debate is Good
Mahatma Gandhi, a strong supporter of non-violence and truth, also encouraged sharing an honest disagreement with others. He himself was a torch-bearer of universal values when he was in South Africa and India. His autobiography shows that he was open to the South African culture and people and gladly learned their ways and shared with them, his own. Debate also plays a similar role. It helps one think, learn, teach and form ones own opinion at the same time accepting and respecting other’s differences.

Debate has played a very important role in forming the world as it is today and has the power to change the world for better. It just needs to be practiced by being open, curious and thoughtful.

Development Of Africa – An Analysis

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An article giving an overview of economic, social and sustainable development in Africa along with optimistic predictions.

The political turmoil in African countries which we see today is quite different from the condition of the continent before 200 years ago. Since the arrival of Europeans on the shores and land of Africa, began the degradation of the primitive African culture. The social and economic network in between the native tribes was self-sustained and based on values. A SWOT analysis of present situation can us help in understanding the significance of culture in the sustainable development of Africa.

Strengths:

Africa finds its strengths in its endowments which it has been successful in retaining in spite of a sad recent past.
• Natural Resources: Africa is rich in oil, forests, minerals, diamonds, coal and metals. Its rain forests, rivers and deserts are unexploited to a great level. African tribesmen were experts in using these resources without destroying them. Bushmen (also known as San) tribe could able to survive for thousands of years in Kalahari desert where water is scarce.
• Tradition and Culture: The tradition and culture of Africa is extremely diverse due to number of tribes and ethical groups. This has lead to developed arts and crafts, music, languages and cuisine. These tribes were interconnected to each other through trade while villages forming the basic economic and social units. The human values and ethics have a lot to offer to the sustainable development of Africa.
• Global Perspective of Youth: It is not that the arrival of Europeans brought only degradation to Africa . They brought Christianity, modern health services and knowledge of the other world to them. But the basic economic and social units could not stand the pressure and dismantled in the chaos. Today, youth is quite concerned about the continent’s identity and despite of political turmoil and economic recession they are optimistic.
• Vision of United Africa: It would be wrong to call United Africa a mere vision as it is visible at international platforms that African countries are now standing together in favor of treaties which also encompasses the benefits of the developing countries. The foreign policy of African countries represents the foreign policy of the continent.

Weaknesses:

Due to blind race for economic resources, social values and environmental ethics were lost somewhere in the history. Onset of HIV/AIDS, terrorism and climate change has now opened the eyes of both the victims and offenders. The weakness of Africa is not its problems but in the ways of dealing with them.
• Internal conflicts: Internal conflicts in Somalia, Congo and Sierra Leone over resources and power has made Africa a victim of external pressures and terrorism. Looking at the number of killings daily and the continent’s exploitation by external entities gives no optimism. The unending conflicts have made the life of common people miserable.
• Poverty and Health Issues: Unending internal conflicts has made it almost impossible to carry on development in Africa. In between tribal wars, it becomes difficult to focus on creating jobs, introducing health improvement measures and providing education.
• Lack of Economic Growth: Africa’s share of economy is supported by travel industry and exports of raw material. But economic benefits do not reach the common people which increases poverty. Lack of industries and research in science and technology is attributed to very less number of educational institutions at primary and university level. Economic development of Africa is only possible through social development. Social development of Africa should be given a high priority.
• Forgetting the Roots: The culture of Africa is not well preserved and the younger generation in such a chaos is unable to accept the ethics and values which they find meaningless.

Opportunities:

Opportunities in Africa are hidden but promising and are showing up in present and near future. The need of the hour now is not to miss them but nurture them to capitalize them to full.
• Strong Leadership: The promises that educated youth is offering are the only hope to rely upon. African countries need leaders who have a different perspective than what it has been till now. African youth are promising of better leadership and are taking steps to improve situation in Africa by following sustainable development practices.
• Global Support: Opportunities in Africa are now recognized in global scene. Investment is slow but steady. Africa’s voice is now heard and the collective voice of United Africa has the power to turn the tide in their favor. Developing countries like India and China are now offering help to African countries in the form of technology and economic investments. The internal conflicts are now being raised as an issue at global level and the false measures of developed countries are being questioned.For development of Africa in health and education, grants are being provided by many countries and international organizations.
• Retaining Values and Ethics: History of Africa is rich and amazing. African culture and tradition need to be restored and valued. “By knowing ones own history, one learns to value others”, said US President Barack Obama in his book, ‘Dreams From My Father’.

Threats:

With so many promising strengths and opportunities in Africa, it may have to face some threats which the continent will have to bravely encounter to keep its door open to more development opportunities.
• Terrorism: With the downfall of terrorism in Middle-East, it is quite possible that the terrorists and terrorist leaders will find a safe haven in Africa. It will be necessary to stop them in the beginning. Africa is already dealing with internal terrorism and it may not have strength to deal with external powers as well. The solution lies in diplomacy.
• Non-sustainable Development Practices: Although development of Africa is an urgent requirement, but it is necessary to keep check of unethical and non-sustainable development practices. They may destroy environment. It is necessary to exploit resources sustainably keeping in view the demands of future generations.
• Exploitation by Developed Countries: It is a hidden threat, developed countries might try to exploit resources and raw materials seeing the situation in Africa. It is necessary for the continent to develop technology and research so that its resources are used for its own sustainable development.
• Brain Drain: Brain Drain is said to occur when talent of one country goes to other countries where more opportunities are available. Situation in Africa for well educated youth is less attractive so it is possible that they might go to developed countries for good salary and better lifestyle. So, it becomes the responsibility of the governments to reverse this process by properly rewarding the educated people for their services to the nation and the continent and accelerating the development of Africa.

Conclusion:

It is most important to have hope and optimism in the development of Africa. It is not easy to accept such a situation in Africa when it is known for the origin of Homosapiens andworld’s first civilizations. If 21st century belongs to Asia, it is no doubt that 22nd century will belong to Africa.

Indian Youth – Agents Of Change

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It was not a long time before, when I attended a conference on sustainable urbanization in New Delhi, India. There were 600 young people from all over India participating enthusiastically in discussions, green jobs fair and green activities.

India never saw such a huge mobilization of youth since it achieved its independence in 1947.Indian youth is now talking about development. Gone are the times, when they thought about getting a government or IT job and settle down. They are now having a global perspective and this change in their mindset is running India’s growth engines.

Green For Sustainable Development (www.greenforsd.org) is a nongovernmental organization run by engineering students in Jaipur, India. “Green For SD spreads awareness and imparts education on issues related to sustainable development through seminars and conferences in schools and colleges. We are currently working in Jaipur but soon we will expand in other Indian cities as well”, says Jai Lakshwani who is also the founder of Green For SD.

Akarsh Dhaiya is an alumni of AIESEC which is the world’s largest youth run organization has started his own venture Tuck Inn which provides healthy food at reasonable prices. “During my college time I could not find anything good to eat outside … it was then the idea to open a health food chain came in my mind”, says Akarsh who is more than excited for the new truck he has brought to mobilize his food chain.

Rohit Gangawal, a young nature lover from Jaipur runs R.A.K.S.H.A., an organization devoted to the protection of animals and birds. The organization also works for creating awareness about global warming and climate change. I also had an opportunity to work with Rohit and his team during a rally of school children for creating awareness about climate change and the importance of maintaining green house gases concentration in atmosphere below 350ppm.

RAKSHA student rally for apreading awareness about climate change and global warming. Photo: Team RAKSHA
RAKSHA student rally for apreading awareness about climate change and global warming. Photo: Team RAKSHA

Such examples can be found in almost every city of India where youth is thinking beyond themselves and regular jobs. They are now having a global perspective and are open to entrepreneurship opportunities. They are becoming the agents of change in the modern India. Such optimism in Indian youth and belief in their own capabilities is perhaps seen for the first time in India in recent history. Now these are the times to change the way things are running. The age old administration, politics and policies are changing with the involvement of youth. It is now the time for us to support them and believing in their dreams and actions.

Change I want to See, Change I want to Make

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I woke up at 8:30 am when my friend who has just started his mobile restaurant and is still struggling for profits, called me to ask if I was going to college. I said ‘No’ and I thought to help him in his business as a friend. I am narrating this incident because it says a lot about the young people, education system, entrepreneurial zeal, struggle and human emotions.
In the coming paragraphs, I will talk about basic change which in itself is responsible for bigger changes. I will try to identify the basic change needed and trace its path to bigger changes. I will also talk about how these changes can be brought about.
Now in this summer afternoon, listening to Sarod maestro Amzad Ali Khan on the roof of an old house where I have taken a room for rent, I can feel what is the change I want to see and the change I want to make. Hopes and optimism is what I have and I believe that the world has never been as optimistic about change in entire history as it is now. When I look in the North, I see history on a hill – Nahargarh Fort standing on the verge and its long and high walls still standing intact, is it the symbol of glory or a symbol of fear, I wonder. I look at the road below – a heap of foul smelling garbage, a historic gate on the main road is now an open toilet, monkeys playing on the roofs of old houses, roads congested by cows, vehicles, venders, cars and people and to add to the chaos – quarrelling people. The flag of Jaipur Rajgharana is flying high on the pinnacle of City Palace situated just five minutes walking distance from here. I look at these historic palaces, forts, abandoned buildings, temples and pink colored shops in rows on both sides of the roads, I wonder how beautiful and glorious this city would have been in its recent history. A lot has changed since then.
When I think about change, the first question arises in my mind is – change what? Do I want to change this myself, my city, my country or my world? Can I say that this world is mine? Why do I and we focus on ‘my’? Why should not we think ‘us’? We all are a part of this world. Every living-non-living and matter-subtle thing has the spirit and contributes to this world which can be either sorrow or happiness. Nothing external is going to change this world. We have to do it on our own. And the necessity of change does not depend upon time and conditions. It is a continuous improvement that has to happen to go towards perfection, to learn from our mistakes and inventing new theories and testing them with a sole aim to achieve that perfection which is in fact unachievable.
What we see around us and what we are so close to? I took out five words from my vocabulary to answer this question and I am going to explain how these five words are related to change.
·         Art
Art gives us history and teaches us how to govern ourselves. It tells us how we can understand ourselves and our role in building this world. It gives our lives a sense of living and helps in finding our place.
·         Heritage
Heritage is the proof of history. A non-living world but not at all spiritless, which has its own way of telling stories. It tells us what we were and where we have come from. How we are one world and still so different and separated?
·         Culture
Our culture tells us how to live. It tells about our present way of living and one day this culture becomes history. It is our responsibility to glorify ourselves through our culture in history or to take it through dark ages. If we chose the second option it will be disrespectful to our future generations and our careless will be cursed for ages. There is a saying in Urdu:
“Yeh jabr bhi dekha hai taareekh ki nazron ne?
Lamhon ne khata ki thi sadiyon ne sazaa payee.”
These are the lessons of time: for the mistakes made by moments, the punishment is meted out to centuries.
·         Science
In Hindi, Science means ‘Vi-Gyan’ – ‘vi’ means special and ‘gyan’ means knowledge. Knowledge other than sleeping, eating, mating and defending is special and this makes human beings different from animals. Science is the reason for our progress and meaning to our activities. Science is the engine that drives humanity and human beings drive this world.
·         Technology
Technology is ‘science in action’ and realized for the benefit of this world. Here we need to have a sense of responsibility for our actions. For fast and unhindered progress we need to have such a sense.
When we are clear about our past, our present, our thoughts and our actions we progress and we rarely do harm. We become satisfied and happy. It gives us respect as we develop our values. We love, we tolerate, we care for people and we become free from deep inside – satisfaction.
This is a dream or utopia, I really don’t know but I know that some small things if taken care of and encompassed in our institutions can be very much responsible for the change I want to see in this world and the change I want to make.
All our institutions – government, educational, research, corporate and non government has to understand the basics of life and have a sense of responsibility towards our actions. In short, every human being should be taught to live in harmony and responsibly. I believe that a proper education system is must throughout the world. The perspective has to be ‘Global’ and ‘us’ should be preferred instead of ‘me’.
The education of a child begins when he/she opens eyes – mother, father, family, school, teachers and society. Rarely a few people have the global perspective while thinking. Universal values are necessary for progress of this world and every living being and the protection of historical non-living things which tells us about past. The thought and knowledge is through education and if the transition goes well every other this in the life of a person goes well.
By this time many things are clear about what kind of change I want to see in this world. The basic of the basic changes – thoughts and transition of universal values in human beings is the change I want to see in this world. And this is the change I want to make.
Education Revolution:
It is necessary to bring about this change and the more basic and deeper we go in human institutions the simpler things become. I do not say that it would be easy as well. There is a lot of knowledge that is being transitioned to every person in this world from family, tradition, internet, books and scientists (in a broad term). This knowledge cannot be controlled, many myths, false knowledge, orthodox views are present and this is making knowledge the most difficult thing to manage in this world. There are as many perspectives about history, culture, traditions and science as there are historians, followers, preachers and scientists. I am not saying that dissemination of current knowledge is to be controlled because it is impossible to control thoughts of human beings, it is impossible to stop anyone to express his views and unethical as well. If a proper knowledge has to be disseminated it has to be done through involvement and cooperation of people. ‘This world is ours and not mine’– this feeling has to be developed and propagated. A global perspective with universal values has to be developed. Education revolution – so it can be called is the basic change that has to be brought about to change every incorrect or wrong thing in this world. There is also good knowledge that is present which has to be saved and propagated along.
The keyword – ‘co-operation’:
The basic knowledge has the basic tool that has to be used to bring about the education revolution. Co-operation is a global perspective and universal value that we can employ in bringing about this change which I want to make. It is not possible for a person, a family, a society and a country to bring about Education revolution. In today’s world, when information can flow with great speed and has many forms – media, print, internet, people etc. It is impossible to do this without global perspective. Current age has developed more information than it was ever present on this planet. And the knowledge and means to manage this immense knowledge are also present with us. There is a need to initiate this revolution.
Co-operation at global level with its effects on each and every human being is necessary to bring about this change. The discussions, results, research, textbooks and media will propagate the truth and the truth is to be known to everyone to accept the universal values and global perspective. It is not necessary to control the present knowledge but to propagate knowledge with a global perspective.
The Process:
How will the world look like when the change will start to happen? It will be an era of opinions, equitability, futuristic thinking, empathy, inclusiveness, sustainability, achievement, progress, rewards, choices, desires, ambitions, opportunities, traditions, festivals, carnivals, competitions, beauty, acceptance, knowledge, enlightenment and success.
Then we will have global perspective and we will be able to say without doubt – ‘my people’.
The New Beginning:
And this is how the world will look like when we have accomplished our task of uniting people and giving them a perspective that will hamper no one’s rights but give everyone an opportunity to express himself without fear because people will listen to what he says. Take a deep breath before you read below.
It will be a birth, growth and a peaceful death. Life will breathe rain showers and clean air. Survival of everyone and everything, nature will sing and freshness will be everywhere. There will be activity and energy. There will be thoughts resulting into action. There will be support, independence. Everything will grow and grow, flourish. Everything will contribute, help, breath, dream, survive and live. More energy, innovation, realization, health, love and peace will be there. The future will be glorious and the past will be there to teach us a lot because it won’t be destroyed by hatred but will be saved to teach and learn. There will be fun, life and enjoyment – Ultimate Freedom.