Secrets of a nation’s greatness

Governing a great nation is like cooking a small fish – too much handling will spoil it.

– Lao Tzu, ancient Chinese philosopher

Switzerland, Singapore and the Scandinavian nations are hailed as role models for great nations. Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS nations) are said to have embarked on the same journey while ‘Make America Great Again’ is stunted due to worsening race relations.

Lofty ideals in international treaties, covenants and declarations, national written constitutions and laws have created a permanent disconnect between the power-brokers, the powerful and the powerless. Leaders of thought, inspirers of national prosperity and sponsors of universal enlightenment have followed John Galt.

The lack of quality education is the sole culprit cunningly employed by governments for sinister purposes. “Our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education. The human mind is our fundamental resource,” observed John F Kennedy.

Anti-colonial revolutions in the 1950s, 1960s and the 1970s are a good source of inspiration towards national progress. Nothing can replace a well-planned outside-the-box education to get the masses thinking developmentally to get rid of a stinking government.

Idowu Koyenikan, the acclaimed organisational consultant explained nation-building thus: “Your pride for your country should not come after your country has become great; your country becomes great because of your pride in it,” singularly mentioning well-prepared youth as the primary source of a nation’s greatness.

Poverty is another thorn bristling with rage afflicting a forlorn people who seem to have accepted their lot. Some awakened nations, like China, spare no efforts to eradicate poverty, offer affordable healthcare, housing, and enforce non-conventional educational policies as a primary source of earning respect from the masses.

A well-educated nation is the giant leap for nation-building. The neuroscientist Abhijit Naskar minced no words when he remarked that the purpose of government is to serve its people, not rule them. The servant and the served can work better together than the ruler and the ruled. Equality and equity are dissimilar.

A new-breed of leaders must come forward to serve their nations with ironclad policies and foolproof programmes that are capable of implementation for the betterment of the entire citizenry. Nothing can discourage a motivated people who take pride in making their nation great.

A motivated people who trust their government is a great beginning. India’s Narendra Modi understood the crisis when he said that “we want to make nation-building a people’s movement”. A motivated and educated citizenry is mightier than a standing army.

A leader with competent advisors will be able to translate people-centric decisions into government policies that have all the trappings of making a nation great. Every national leader must make it a top priority to right the wrongs, make course corrections and adjustments, implement and enforce policies that place the people first.

Leaders battling inflated egos and bulging purses laden with ill-gotten gains must face punishment in a justice system that imposes greater burdens on elected officials. A nation cannot prosper long when it favours only the prosperous, cautioned Barack Obama who actually did nothing to control the machinations of Wall Street puppeteers.

The poet and philosopher Allama Muhammad Iqbal bemoaned that “nations are born in the hearts of poets, but they prosper and die in the hands of politicians”. One can only hope that the trend of prosperity is well nurtured in a manner befitting the absence of political pests bent on impoverishing Providence itself.

Corruption, cronyism, conspiracy to steal government money, and the constant erosion of values are freely, voluntarily and willingly perpetrated that can lead to volatile Arab Springs fanned by enraged mass euphoria. The defining feature of achieving greatness is to punish and rid the nation of wrongdoers who have wantonly abused power.

“A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members,” said Mahatma Gandhi. Competent leaders must wisely exploit resources in land, labour, capital and entrepreneurship — the four pillars of any economy — to achieve greatness by consulting the best minds available. Many are never consulted as long as cronyism is an entrenched government policy.

When theory is matched by practical application for optimum results in any desired discipline, a nation’s journey to greatness is unstoppable. A bonus is occasioned when an awakened citizenry exhibits immunity to the poisoned thorns and toxic bristles of annoying propaganda.

Sadhguru reminds us that the nation is not the land — it’s the people. In transforming the people, we shall have a great nation.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the New Sarawak Tribune.