Gul Panag's Plans For The World
In my reign, I would ensure equal access to opportunity economically, politically and socially. It stems from the desire for equality in all aspects of life -- a natural corollary to an equal society.
… Women would have equal rights (No, really!)
I would ensure equal access to opportunity economically, politically and socially. It stems from the desire for equality in all aspects of life -- a natural corollary to an equal society. In India, however, our societal conditioning is such that women do not naturally take the lead. This is achieved even without an attempt to disenfranchise women from making choices.
… The planet would be protected.
Climate change is a macro issue that can be addressed at a micro level. We have to be wary of how we use non-replenishable resources and how that impacts the big picture. People don't realize that this not a zero-sum game. If something doesn't impact us immediately, it doesn't mean it will not affect someone elsewhere. Take air pollution. The largest source in India is commercial vehicles, construction sites and crop burning. It's important to aggressively educate farming communities, warn them against crop burning and offer them a viable alternative. There's no point in talking to them about the impact of crop burning, because when it's the question of livelihoods, people don't think about the environment. There is a need to bring about best practices on construction sites and encourage the use of public transport to decongest our roads.
… There would be room for every ideology.
We need to create space for every kind of thought to exist. It is dangerous when a certain kind of thought gathers traction and gains majoritarian tones, because you then move towards mob culture or vigilantism. When the left-liberal space becomes loud, it drowns out the right. Similarly, when you lean too much towards the right, it leads to disastrous consequences. The idea is to encourage pluralism in public discourse. What we are seeing today is majoritarianism of one kind, which will eventually be replaced by one of another kind. For too long in India, we have had a left-liberal discourse. Today, the pendulum has swung to the other end. The idea is to keep the pendulum in the centre, as much as possible, by creating a wide space for public discourse where people of different ideologies can participate.
… Education and quality healthcare would ensure a level playing field.
My biggest duty would be to create equal opportunities and level the playing field. How do you create equal opportunity? By ensuring greater investment in public education and providing quality public healthcare. Everybody will need to have equal access to public healthcare and public education. I would increase expenditure on both so infrastructure is upgraded and quality care and education are available to everyone, especially to those in need. Our current expenditure on public health and education is abysmal, given the scale of our population and the socio-economic inequality.
… Humour would be mandatory.
We don't laugh at ourselves enough. In fact, we take ourselves too seriously. There will be time set aside for humour in our institutions, be it the Parliament or the courts. Perhaps we can introduce humour as a subject in schools and colleges. Only then can we learn to laugh at ourselves.