The Institute of Public Enterprise (IPE), Hyderabad in collaboration with the Pranab Mukherjee Foundation, New Delhi and the Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development, Chandigarh organized a two-day Regional Conference on ‘Towards Peace, Harmony, Happiness: Transition to Transformation’. The event was scheduled from March 22-23, 2019 at IPE Shamirpet Campus. The main objective was to identify, discuss and deliberate factors bearing on peace, harmony, and happiness in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu in particular and India in general.
Generation of employment, climate change, narcotics, farmers’ suicide and labour issues, gender inequality, and violence, socio-cultural issues, regional aspirations are some of the indicative sub-themes that were discussed in the conference. This was a national level programme under which a series of conferences were held at various places in India. The programme was launched at the national conference held at India International Centre, New Delhi on November 23 and 24, 2018. The conference was addressed by Shri Pranab Mukherjee, former President of India; Dr. Manmohan Singh, former Prime Minister of India; Shri Hamid Ansari, former Vice-President of India; and Professor Murli Manohar Joshi, Member Lok Sabha, and former Union Minister. The Second conference was held on 28-29 December 2018 at Dehradun in collaboration with Swami Ram University. Now the third in the series is being organized in collaboration with IPE Hyderabad.
There has been a total shift in the development strategy of India. The new development strategy, popularly known as New Economic Policy (NEP), is mainly founded on privatization, liberalization, and globalization. The NEP, along with achieving a higher growth rate, has increased inequality in income and wealth and left the marginalized people at the mercy of the market forces. This necessitates the intensive and extensive study of the ongoing transition and its journey towards transformation.
Transformation, however, may have different meaning and implications for different sections of the population. Similarly, any change in socio-cultural and politico-economic policy may have different impacts on different sections and strata of people. Some sections may get better off and some worse off in terms of their absolute and relative positions. The worse off people may feel disappointed and their simmering discontent may get articulated in shaking harmony. Such a perception (real and or imaginary) has ingrained seeds of dissidence. There always exist forces which may help the germination of these dormant/latent seeds of discontent and mobilize them into a violent movement. Most of these states are struggling with high rural poverty, inequality across caste, social and ethnic groups, untouchability, discrimination and atrocities and lack of basic social services). More than 70 percent lives India’s poor life in these states.
The emphasis on inclusive and fast growth in the 11th Five Year Plan and more inclusive and faster growth in the 12th Five Year Plan is a testimony to the fact that larger sections of the people are still excluded from the process of growth and development. The trickle down of the benefits of growth perhaps has not happened. It needs to be understood that growth without development will deepen the socio-cultural and politico-economic inequality and will have dangerous socio-political consequences that could undermine freedom and democracy. Systematic and systemic inequality of opportunities is toxic and often derails the growth process through political channels and conflicts.
In view of the foregoing discussion, the issue of a peaceful transition to transformation with a focus on the larger issue of peace, harmony, and happiness is bound to assume an enormous relevance and significance and hence needs serious public debate and discourse so that the transformation is peaceful and society remains livable. It is in the enlightened self-interest of all sections of people, particularly the political class across all the political parties and well off people that PMF, CRRID, and IPE have initiated the aforementioned debate.