“We will get independence within a year” proclaimed optimistically Gandhiji with launching of Noncooperation movement. It was started on plank of ideals like satyagraha and non-violence with which Gandhiji hoped to make India free from yoke of colonialism. However stark reality stuck to Gandhi ji with chauri-chaura incident and British repression. This made him realize that it is still difficult for Indians at that juncture of time to abide by ideals of non-violence, sacrifice and satyagraha.
This historical lesson to Gandhiji in particular and India in general reveals that reality does not conform to ideals, however setting up these ideals as plank of our freedom struggle going forward , Gandhi ji said to be responsible for making India a peaceful pluralistic country with deep democratic ethos lying on foundation of non-violence and pursuit of truth. It means that how ideals are relevant to give shape to the state of affairs towards it, even if it takes time to reach those ideals.
This essay analyses firstly, the importance of ideas in our life; secondly how our present reality does not conform to the ideals that we hold to be principles in our life. Thirdly how still reality in the big picture shows its journey toward ideals.
Ideals: An Inspiration of Life
Ideals are like principles and goals that we all, as societal beings hold to be desirable. These ideals can be seen in our personal, social, political, environmental, and economic domains.
In the personal domain, we cherish ideals like a person, to be honest, truthful, rational in their outlook, be a good citizen and respect other fellow beings.
Similarly in social domain, we aims for ideals like education for all [shikshit bharat] , accessible, equitable, and affordable healthcare, and accessible ecosystem for the differently-abled, idea of clean India , respect for elderly, etc., we want a society that is for all.
Correspondingly, in the political arena as well, since the ancient time we hold fast to the ideal tahat power should reside in the hands of people , creating institutions which are people-centric, accountable, transparent in their working, ideals like panchsheel in the international arena based on mutual respect, the principle of non -intervention etc.
Likewise, in the environmental domain as well, we all aspire for a world where climate change does not wreak havoc on humanity, biodiversity is conserved and there is a symbiotic relationship between man and nature.
In the same way , in the economic domain, the ideals like a high direct tax to GDP ratio, less economic and wealth inequality, lower fiscal deficit are seen as sign of strong economic nation.
However, if we see in reality we hardly see it conforming to these ideals. the harsh reality seems not to be in alignment with these goals.
Reality not conforming to ideal
Reality can be defined as present state of affairs agreed upon by the majority of people living in a society. In individual domain we are presently increasingly seeing the rising cases of intolerance in form of mob lynching, attack on freedom of speech having chilling effects on creative art [like Padmavati issue] cases of communal violence, discrimination against the LGBTQ community which are not in consonance with individual ideals.
similarly, in social domain, widespread illiteracy, lack of skill development, high out-of-pocket expenditure, India having more than one-third of shunted children, people still practicing open defecation, elderly increasingly facing social and psychological trauma shows how reality is far from not conforming to social ideals.
Likewise in the political arena, though we constantly talk about democracy, human rights, rule-based international order, however, poor voter turnouts in election, criminalization, and corporatization of politics, issue of paid news and fake news, the recent episode of Jamal Khashoggi allegedly killed by a higher Saudi official, rampant human right violation in Palestinian areas, many more highlight how far reality is from ideals we want to abide by.
In the same way, the recent IPCC special report highlights that if the current pace and pattern of advancement continue then we will have catastrophe sooner than we expect. This will not only destroy the ideal of having a symbiotic relationship but in contrast, shows a predatory pattern of our development.
And lastly, in the economic domain rising protectionist tendencies, declining world economic governing institutions like WTO, and in the Indian context poor tax to GDP, recent clash of ideas between RBI and government shows the distancing of reality from economic ideals.
Above analysis, shows our present situation diverging from the ideals and doesn’t conform to or abide by it. however if we observe reality in its holistic view i.e. considering past scenario, current situations and futuristic possibilities, we realize how we are slowly moving towards it.
Reality as Journey towards Ideals
If we reiterate the aforementioned ideals and trace the evolution of reality from the past, we will see how gradually we are indeed moving towards these ideals. For example – in the individual domain we have created institutions, reward and punishment mechanisms, changing our education towards value orientation to foster values like honesty, being a good citizen to observe truthfulness, etc. initiatives such as qaumi Ekta committee and many others are trying to instill these very ideals only.
Similarly, governments around the world and also the Indian government are trying to bridge education and skill deficit with initiatives like skill India mission, Samara Shiksha Abhiyan, etc. further in healthcare recent Jan arogya Abhiyan is a move towards the ideal of health for all. similarly, push for
swatch Bharat [clean India ] and poshit bharat [nourish India] through mass movement highlight the reality confirming ideal of cleanliness, nutritious life, and people participation in making it a success.
Likewise, in the political domain through we see rising tendencies of populism and flaws of democracy however we are constantly moving towards realizing ideals of democracy like moving electoral reform, introducing more people accountability, and participation in elections with #ipledgetovote campaign, and many more. It shows how reality is gradually confirming ideals.
In a similar way, in the environment domain, we find continuous efforts to find alternative technologies for the climate-resilient world like electric and hybrid vehicles, decarbonization movements like alliance4 going past coal. Further, there is growing ecological literacy to realize the environmental ideal of a sustainable environment.
Further, in the economic domain, the initiatives like demonetization, GST in the Indian context, and more global efforts like FATF to curb black money, an amendment to double taxation avoidance agreements, push for more transparent corporate governance, etc. show that reality is a journey towards the aforementioned economic ideals.
Hence, all in all, we can say that reality-ideal relationship is complex and not one to one relationship. In the short run, we find that reality does not conform to it however we see how to present state of affairs evolved over the period of time we see how ideals are the motivation of our endeavors to reach to those ideals”..