July 30, 2012

Home grown methods work best

Working with the public is an art our new democratic in Maldives must learn. The change in our system from an autocracy to democracy turns the governance pyramid upside down. Now the people are at the top and at the bottom of the inverted pyramid are the elected officials – now the servant leaders.

This change poses a great challenge to leadership. In the new frame of things, leaders must learn to acquire the mindset of servants and that sense of accountability. And equally so, the public must graduate from the feeling of being servants to feeling and acting more like leaders who know what they want. The sense of discretion, maturity and responsibility must also dawn on us as citizens, for, the nation must now become what we want it to be, not what the servant leaders want it to be. And, our vigilance to the performance of our elected public servants will determine the type of future course our ship will take.

In this new situation, a good leader will be one who will consult the public often and keep them apprised of the true course the ship of the nation is taking. Transparent government and an aware public will be the needed combination to chart that path. Thus, leaders should not pull the nation faster than they can make the public aware of new methods and processes of governance they wish to employ. While the leadership has the responsibility to find creative ways to lead, there is no need to hurry, for we are not in any race with another nation or people. There is no one at the end-line to see who comes first in the race. The servant leaders we elect are the flag bearers for the nation who must act within the limits of our public’s awareness. Public officials must be transparent in suggesting new ways to govern. However, this requires a whetting of such new approaches by the public and getting their acceptance before it goes to the legislature. Refusing to do so would indicate to us public that our executive mind is still arrogant, perhaps due to the reigning vestige of the autocratic legacy that says ‘the leader knows what’s best for the people’. For a transparent process, radical policies, especially those with implications for huge outlays of public funds, will need public scrutiny and discussion before it goes to Majlis. Their choice must reflect the public’s voice. If not something must be wrong.  

In respect to new governance methods too, the public’s familiarity with these must take precedence. When we attempt to fit and implement laws in Maldives that are made for foreign systems and cultures, our public is disempowered in its enforcement because these require drastic changes to our implementation mechanisms and skill capacities. The public must be comfortable with the system of governance that is suggested, and not have to grapple with an imposition. As society gets better educated and acclimated, rules and processes can be revised to fit to the evolving mindset.
So, should we not opt for our progress to be a progressive process -- not necessarily a drastic one? We need a nation that is happy. We need a nation in which its wealth is shared equitably with its citizens. And the truth that I see is that in a nation as small and homogenous as ours, this can be done. There is no need for our elected servant leaders to so eagerly lavish precious resources on huge or fancy investment projects for which our progeny will be kept in indefinite debt. Being in debt should not make us happy. Why not spend on social and human development programs that will make the minds of our future citizens more humane, loving and sharing? Those creative homegrown minds will build the nation of the future.


Naani said...

As you have mentioned, at this point in time considering the current situation in our nation, I alsobelieve that developing the minds of the people will be very benificial in the long run. People including the youth need to be educated and made aware so that they are able to make informed decisions when the time comes.

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of Elliot's saying:
"We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time."

Maldives have been inhabited for 4000 years. The systems that have been developed over the four millennia are the most workable, greenest solutions to the problems the people of the islands have faced. This includes administrative and other systems.

Abdul Sattar Yoosuf said...

Thanks for the positive note Naani. In reality, it is our mind that is what we are. Its said that we are what we think. Our minds are developed through our educational system. Perhaps new methods of learning is needed in our country. Not just banking information and passing tests. But understanding ourselves and the world around us. How can we do that. You need to get the youth thinking about this and asking for such changes. Good luck.

Abdul Sattar Yoosuf said...

Dear Anonymous. Absolutely! Our reaching out to know what happens out there is necessary for us to know and value the beauty of our own surroundings. Ultimately, we are the daughters and sons of our soil, and we feel the nurturing warmth of its surroundings, and yearn for the solutions that were. Thanks for your meaningful comment.