Unity in Diversity; Building Shared and Inclusive Societies for Peace and Prosperity” - Former Sri Lankan President
Former Sri Lankan President, Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga warned that inequality can fuel "terrorism" during a speech in Nigeria, a country grappling with a deadly Islamist insurgency. "Poverty, socio-political injustices cause frustration and anger among the marginalized groups," said Kumaratunga.
President Kumaratunga was invited to speak by the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, an independent think-tank that hosts an annual lecture by a prominent world leader.
She urged Nigeria, split between Christians and Muslims with some 250 ethnic groups, to "celebrate" its diversity, adding that she had made efforts to reach out to members of the minority Tamil ethnic group while in office.
Former Sri Lanka President Chandrika Kumaratunga delivered the Thirteenth Anyiam-Osigwe Lecture on the topic "Unity in Diversity; Building Shared and Inclusive Societies for Peace and Prosperity.” in Lagos, Nigeria, on 29th November 2012.
Full text of former Sri Lanka President Chandrika Kumaratunga is given below:
I wish to express my gratitude to the Osigwe Anyiam-Osigwe Foundation for giving me the privilege of being with you today, to deliver the Thirteenth Emmanuel Onyechere Osigwe Anyiam-Osigwe Lecture. I am also glad, this has given me the opportunity to visit Nigeria for the first time. I must hasten to add, I am not a stranger to Nigeria since that I have read much about Nigeria, its people, its politics and I am also familiar with some of your great writers.
Osigwe Anyiam-Osigwe Foundation has been created to fulfil the noble philosophy expressed by Emmanuel Onyechere Osigwe Anyiam-Osigwe. His vision was to work for the good of humanity.
His philosophy envisioned a holistic view of the world and the place occupied by Man in this world. He believed in a Truth and Ultimate Reality which was a higher knowledge and understanding of human existence and its purpose, at a level that is higher than the mundane.
He did not only expound his philosophy but his quest also led him to action. He created the West African Academy of Science to continue in his search to understand the spirituality of Man. At the same time he has created an organization for the purpose of spreading the message of democracy in Africa. This was called the Mission for Democracy in Africa. He has also undertaken various enterprises for rural development, as well as other philanthropic initiatives.
His family and followers have undertaken the laudable initiative of creating the Osigwe Anyiam-Osigwe Foundation to progress the great philosopher’s thinking and objectives. This is a rare occurrence in the third world. I wish the Foundation good luck and much strength to continue along its inspired path.
I wish to talk to you today, of the need to build inclusive and integrated societies in our countries. I shall attempt to demonstrate the relationship between inclusion of all groups of citizens in the process of governance and achieving sustainable progress and prosperity, or in the inverse case, the relationship between exclusion or marginalization and conflict.
Poverty and conflict are two issues that have caused many setbacks for developing Nations.
Poverty is considered to be the greatest challenge facing all countries. Governments have formulated and implemented thousands of programmes to alleviate or end poverty and deprivation.
However, rarely do governments recognize the importance of searching out the causes of conflict and resolving them. Unresolved conflict invariably leads to violence and civil war. This in turn compounds the problems of poverty.
Traditional societies are composed of diverse groups of peoples, of different ethnicities, religions, caste, etc. In ancient, pre-colonial Societies, diversity did not inevitably generate conflict. Ancient philosophies recognized and accepted the existence of separate social groups with different beliefs and social structures. Yet, they were all believed to be knit together by a common humanity, in search of an ultimate reality.
The colonial rulers transformed diversity into sources of friction, employing diversities “to divide and rule”. From being a cultural strength, diversity was transformed into a political and social weakness. With the advent of colonialism, diversity was no more celebrated and accepted as part of an existential necessity, but was seen as something to be opposed. Of course it was greatly advantageous to the invading rulers to divide us in order to rule and dominate us better.
Hence ethnic and tribal differences, religion differences and so on were exacerbated causing division and conflict.
Studies have amply demonstrated that exclusion and inequality between different groups has been the major cause of intra-national conflicts. When inequality occurs among groups which have similar economic and social status – that is, horizontal inequalities, the disadvantaged group feels the discrimination more sharply.
Perceived injustice as well as frustration and despair caused by continued social marginalization, economic deprivation and political defeat has been known to result in violence. It has been said that “young hope betrayed, transforms itself into bombs”. The continued existence of inequality gives rise to violence and even terrorism – that most dehumanizing phenomenon of our times. Economic regression and political instability follows.
I wish to affirm here that marginalized groups have been found to perceive injustice not only as economic deprivation, but also through the prism of social and political inequality. The exclusion of some communities from an equitable share of the benefits of prosperity causes inequalities in every sphere. It has been affirmed that poverty, social and political injustice and their relationship to conflict may be measured by the difference in opportunity structures for the excluded groups.
Economic development is no doubt the priority requirement for addressing the challenges of poverty and deprivation.
Most developing economies have attained accelerated growth and development in the past few decades.
However, hundreds of millions of our citizens have been left behind, continuing to live under conditions of extreme poverty and are even becoming poorer than before. They remain marginalized, while the benefits of economic growth are enjoyed by a relatively small number of the privileged classes.
Lack of access to education and knowledge, jobs, land and other public assets, by an ever increasing number of our peoples causes frustration and anger amongst the marginalized. They are no more willing to tolerate the inequalities.
Economic Development happens to be only one part of the solution. We need to adopt a holistic plan of action which will encompass the socio-political aspects of the problem. All those communities which have been excluded historically or even in modern times must be included as equal partners, having equal rights in the economic, social and political spheres. In formulating policies for development, an inclusive approach is required so that the benefits of growth reach the disadvantaged and they are included in the implementation of the programmes.
Studies have ascertained that when all communities living within a State are guaranteed equal opportunities – economically, socially, politically and their separate identities are respected and given free expression, they will become a productive, vibrant part of the State, celebrating the richness of its diversity, while building an united, strong and stable country.
Such a society is called a Cohesive or Shared or Inclusive Society.
It is a society where the political, governmental and societal structures are designed to allow the equitable distribution of and equal access to the benefits of development and prosperity for All, irrespective of the community to which they belong. The Constitution of the State, its political structures such as Parliament and other elected bodies, its government and administrative structures will all have to be constructed in a manner as to accommodate free and active participation of All, in political and governmental processes, as well as the guarantee of equal rights to all.
The contrary instance is where differences among diverse communities living within a country have been exacerbated by rulers, to their advantage. They tend to conjure up “an enemy” from peoples who belong to different ethnic, religious, caste or political groups. History is replete with examples of States and Governments employing the concept of the “other”, represented as the “enemy”, as a tool of Government management. For a large part of human history the “enemy” has helped forge national unity, as well as entrench weak rulers and Governments in power.
Governments whip up hatred against the “other” by maintaining the myth of the dichotomy between “us” and “them”. This requires the oppression of the other and the denial of their rights. Such exclusion takes place not only through outright hostility but also through neglect of minority groups.
Sustainable development, prosperity and peace necessarily imply that the “other” be brought in and included fully and honestly into the processes of economic development, as full and equal partners of the process of government – to power sharing, for instance.
To end poverty and hunger in a durable manner, we need inclusive and sustainable development.
Here I wish to quote from the great Indian poet and philosopher – Rabindranath Tagore “Bigotry tries to keep Truth safe in its hands, with a grip that kills it”.
Stewart and Brown in an Oxford University study affirm that cultural, economic, political inequalities occurring between specific groups cause deep resentment, resulting in violent struggles. Violence in multi-religious and multi-ethnic Nations is not caused by the presence of diversity or by the “clash of civilizations” as stated by Huntingdon, but is due to the exclusion of the less powerful groups. The marginalized groups then mobilize around their group identity – be it religious, ethnic, linguistic, ideological.
The most potent source of violent conflict today is identity. The denial of rights to or the exclusion of certain groups with common identity becomes the bedrock of dissent and violent conflict.
Prof Rehman Sobhan affirms in his work on poverty and injustice that Poverty, Injustice and their relationship to conflict may be measured by the difference in opportunity structures for the excluded.
At this point, I wish to describe some specific instances of the relationship between inequality and conflict. I will classify inequality into four main categories.
(1) Economic and Social inequality. Economic inequality is usually measured by average assets of a household, which would include income from employment and wealth, especially housing and land. Social inequality centres mainly on levels of education and access to good health care. But race, religion, tribal and caste difference could also give rise to inequality.
* Studies reveal that there is a significant rise in the probability of conflict in countries with considerable economic and social inequality. This increases threefold when inequalities occur horizontally between different ethnic groups.
* A study of Indonesia, confirms a definite relationship between the occurrence of violent ethnic conflict and comparative economic and social deprivation of marginalized communities. Low levels of economic development have also given rise to religious polarization.
* The relative socio-economic inequality suffered by Muslims has been found to bear a direct connection to the long lasting Moro rebellion in the Phillippines.
* Similarly, there is strong evidence to support that the Maoist uprisings in Nepal are closely linked to the deprivation of specific communities, on a regional and caste basis, measured by poverty and literacy rates.
(2) Cultural inequalities have also engendered political instability, even conflicts of extreme violence.
Ethnicity, language, religion define the identity of citizens within a State.
The ethno-linguistic and religious identity of the majority community is often different from that of smaller groups living within the same State.
Conflict has arisen in innumerable countries, when the State apportions a larger share of the privileges to the majority, marginalizing and excluding the minority groups – seen as “the others”. If I may cite some examples:-
- In Peru and Guatemala, cultural discrimination was exercised constitutionally prohibiting the use of indigenous languages.
In Malaysia this was achieved indirectly against non-Muslims through the operation of Bhumiputra laws – and in Ivory Coast against non-Christians.
- The Protestant Orange Order movement in Northern Ireland, the destruction of religious buildings in India, Palestine and recently in Malaysia led to conflictual polarization of victimized communities and to violent conflict.
In Sri Lanka, language policy has had a similar effect in polarizing a peaceful Tamil community around the demand for equal status.
(3) Political inequality is yet another major cause of conflict. There exists much evidence to demonstrate that inclusive government reduces the probability of political instability and violent conflict, when power is shared and there exists less political inequality.
We are aware of many instances where peace prevails, even in the presence of serious economic and social inequalities, when political power sharing arrangements function well.
Formal systems of power-sharing, federal states, territorial autonomy and electoral systems giving a fair and equitable representation to all communities have proved effective in reducing potential conflict. Political inclusion has prevented conflict among marginalized groups, even in the continued absence of policies to alleviate poverty and social deprivation.
- The examples of Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya Bolivia are clear evidence of this.
Nigeria defeated the separatist Biafran uprising militarily and achieved peace through devolution of political power. However, today …………
It is interesting to note that when Kenya changed policy to become politically exclusive, violent conflict ensued, until a power sharing regime was introduced once again.
Malaysiais yet another instance where political inclusion of disadvantaged minorities even without adopting-policies to improve socio-economic status, has sufficed to prevent conflict.
- Similarly Canada has found a lasting solution to the separatist demands of Quebec by means of devolving political power to the province.
- In the case of Peru, the armed uprising of the Sendero Luminoso was militarily defeated, but the causes of conflict – the demands for land and political rights have not been satisfactorily resolved. Instability and conflict continue in Peru.
- Indiahas managed to contain serious conflict for six decades after Independence, by establishing a Federal State, whereby political power is effectively shared among ethno-linguistic groups. The formation of an inclusive society through the operation of a non-religious, secular and democratic Constitution has significantly contributed to the cohesion and stability of the Indian State. The recent increase in the occurrence of uprisings there, seems to be area or group specific, arising among disadvantaged communities and during periods when the political authorities have slackened in the strict and effective implementation of power sharing, secularism and equitable development.
(4) The nature of the State has also been found to impinge upon conflict.
Democratic States with an inclusivist government have successfully prevented or smoothed over potential conflict – In Ghana and the provincial State of Sabah in Malaysia, an accommodating and inclusive policy adopted by the governments have prevented the escalation of conflict.
- On the contrary, the vicious and repressive handling of the small, nascent rebellion in East Timor, Indonesia led to its escalation into a full blown civil war, resulting in the formation of a separate State.
As for Sri Lanka, the constant economic, social and cultural deprivation of the Northern and Eastern regions is clearly related to the violent conflict we have witnessed. Low levels of development of infrastructure, relatively little opportunity to access quality education and employment, political marginalization with minimal opportunity to participate in decision-making processes in the political and administrative superstructure, are undoubtedly the root causes that gave rise to the terribly violent conflict in my country.
The consistent rejection by the State of the demand of the Tamil movements for language parity, led to increased demands for power sharing through Federalism, and finally the demand for a separate State.
The experience of the countries I have cited is proof enough that peace ensues where the benefits of economic development, as well as political power are equally shared. Such States have effectively built Inclusive and Shared Societies. It is evident that the proper functioning of inclusive societies could only be achieved within the framework of a free and democratic State.
The challenge of the 21st Century for many Nations remains the enterprise of erecting pluralist, multi-ethnic, multi cultural States. This requires that we manage the existing diversity within our Nations, directing the richness of this diversity towards positive change in order to build Free, Democratic and Prosperous Societies. We need to accept and celebrate diversity, not reject it. The combined efforts and skills of peoples of different communities can only enrich our Societies, not damage them.
Now I would like to express some thoughts about issues closer home to you – in Nigeria. Your Nation is composed of many ethnic and tribal groups – 250 ethnic groups of which 17 constitute 95% of the total population. They speak numerous languages and dialects.
In the pre colonial era, there were no major conflicts between these different groups. They lived in symbiosis with each other, accepting each other’s differences and rights.
Colonial policies that favored some groups, who were assigned the best resources and privileges, caused discrimination and inequality for the others. We are aware of the conflicts generated by this situation. While the colonial regimes thrived on the divisions they created, post-colonial politics and leaders have exploited these divisions to their benefit. In most of our countries, decolonization has not been completely achieved. We have been incapable of managing the diversities in our societies to generate constructive political change by building democratic, pluralistic societies. Most post-colonial Nations have flawed democracies even after many decades of independence.
The tragic Biafran War is an example of violent conflict caused by the discrimination against one community. Here the problem was compounded by the fact that the Igbo community which led the violent demand for an independent Biafra, had previously enjoyed a privileged position during the colonial period, before they began to suffer increasing discrimination, exclusion and physical attacks after independence. In this instance, economic inequality and political exclusion coalesced with cultural identity to generate conflict among the Igbo community. The civil war ended and the Biafran issue was resolved, when an extensive political power sharing arrangement was put in place, with the creation of a Federal Government of Biafra.
The findings of a study done in two different urban areas in Nigeria, by Ukoha Ukiwo for CRISE at Oxford University, compares existing inequalities in Calabar and Warri districts. Both cities saw modern economic advancement of the Western type from around the 16th century – Calabar becoming a center for Christian missionary activity and education, while Warri developed into a center of trading with the West. Both cities have three main indigenous groups of which one occupies a predominant status – the Efik in Calabar and the Itsekiri in Warri. They were the favored agents of the colonial administration, receiving the major portion of the economic privileges, as well as political positions.
The British colonialists justified their actions by employing arguments that some communities were “enlightened” and “civilized” while others were “backward” and “primitive”!
However it is noteworthy that the attitudes and responses of the two underprivileged groups in Calabar differ from those of the two less privileged groups in Warri.
Calabar has adopted a more inclusive politics, while Warri has employed an exclusivist policy. In Calabar, the colonial administration while ensuring the dominant status to the Efik Community also offered many opportunities to the other two groups – Efut and Qua to secure leading administrative, political and judicial positions. This situation continued even after independence, with care being taken to achieve a balance between elected and nominated high posts.
In Warri, for reasons unclear to me, the dominance of the Itsekiri Community was not mitigated in a manner similar to that in Calabar. During the colonial period and later after independence, the Itsekiri Community dominated all elected and nominated positions – including in the Ijaw and Urhobo majority areas. Demands for representation from the two less privileged groups have led to violence, on many occasions.
In Calabar, on the contrary, the discourse appears to consist of sharing the public wealth between the three communities, with the implication that the dominant group will receive a bigger share, while the others are included in sharing the benefits.
In Warri, we hear a discourse on “homeland” and “indigeneity”. The Itsekiri insist on exclusive rights to the “homeland” of which they are the original indigene inhabitants whilst the others are mere “settlers”. Institutions of governance have been designed to guarantee the dominance of Itsekiri leadership. Demands for concessions by the other two communities have been consistently rejected.
Exclusivist policies in the cultural sphere have also worsened tensions in Warri.
The languages of the Ijaw and Urhobo are excluded from schools, Itsekiri is the official language, even names of Ijaw and Urhobo villages have been changed to Isekiri ones. All this has led to many bouts of violence between the communities.
I daresay, that the inclusive policies employed in Calabar appears to have led to peaceful coexistence in that region, while the failure to do so seems to be the cause of consistent violent conflicts in Warri.
Conflicts are engendered not only by the objective existence of inequality, but also by the level of perception of inequality among the relevant communities.
When we compare Nigeria with its neighbor – Ghana, we note that Ghana has been relatively less prone to violent conflict than Nigeria. Surveys of the way members of different communities perceived the extent of discrimination of particular ethnic or religion groups, conducted in the two countries, found that Nigerians accorded most importance to their religion and ethno linguistic and regional identities, whereas the Ghanaians gave importance to their national identity as well as their occupations. The Nigerians believed that ethnicity influenced the government to favour or discriminate when according access to jobs, land, educational opportunities and political positions. This perception may explain the causes of mobilization of some communities in Nigeria to violent conflict. In Ghana, perceptions of discrimination were less marked among the majority of respondents.
Permit me now, to speak briefly of my country – Sri Lanka. We have experienced an extremely violent and destructive civil war waged against the State by the Tamil minority group. The Sinhala community constitutes 75% of the population, while we have 15% Tamil and 8% Muslim people.
The Tamil community first demanded equal status for education and job opportunities. Constant neglect of these inequalities led to political mobilization and the demand for political power – a separate and independent State.
In Sri Lanka the level of perception of discrimination accounted for a substantial part of the frustrations felt by the Tamil community. The colonial rulers had employed a policy of positive favoritism towards the Tamil citizens, in order to “divide and rule” a Nation which did not easily accept colonial subjugation. Independence saw the rise of the Sinhala majority with successive governments apportioning the best and most of the public benefits to the Sinhalese. The frustration of the Tamils, who enjoyed many privileges during the colonial era, was heightened in comparison to their previous situation.
I have briefly enunciated some instances of the major causes of conflict within Nations and how diversity and difference in the ethnic, linguistic and religious spheres generate such conflicts.
In recent years, the international community has begun to recognize the importance of alleviating inequality. There is an ongoing discourse about the necessity to adopt inclusive strategies when formulating development plans. Poverty reduction, elimination of social exclusion and the guarantee of Human Rights – in the political, social, economic and cultural spheres are becoming the universally accepted themes.
At this point, permit me to describe my personal experiences as Head of State of Sri Lanka. I was personally committed to the concept that Federalism and inclusivity were the solutions to Sri Lanka’s minorities’ question. I had ascertained that the majority of adherents to the exclusivist Sinhala Buddhist concept of the State belonged to a small minority of the elite ruling class politicians and clergy and others closely linked to them. The masses, in their vast majority were not committed to extremist political views of any type.
We understood that we must negotiate with the minorities and their leaders and bring in suitable concessions. Sharing what we possess with others will not reduce our strength. Instead, it will enhance it by bringing together divided communities working together bringing in skills, talents and knowledge of the marginalized that were deprived to us since the beginning of the conflict.
The diverse skills and talents of all our peoples, actively participating in the nation building process, will immensely enrich and unify our divided Nation. Our country is weak and our State is fragile in every sense of the word. We need to do much to build a strong and prosperous State.
Hence we adopted a strategy of honest, public discourse to inform the people that the only viable solution was to choose the path of dialogue, negotiations and peace achieved by means of a federal constitution and by building a cohesive Nation and an inclusive State. We won three major elections within eighteen months, with an increased majority vote at each one.
A gallup poll we conducted at the time my government came to power in 1994 showed that only 23 per cent of the Sinhala people opted for a negotiated settlement of the conflict. We undertook extensive programs to take the message of peace and shared societies to the entire country. We held seminars, workshops, street theater and used the media widely. At the end of 2 years another survey showed that the number of people opting not only for peace, but this time also for devolution of power had increased to 68 per cent.
I must emphasize that my government only employed democratic methods, never force nor violence against our opponents.
An essential prerequisite for Peace, a stable and strong government and prosperity is a democratic, pluralist State. This is the only magic potion I know to bind together diverse peoples of a multi-ethic, multi-linguistic, multi-religious and cultural country like ours, as one undivided and strong Nation.
The vision and actions of leaders of government have been instrumental in defining the choices made by the Sri Lanka people.
For the first time in the history of independent Sri Lanka, my government offered a comprehensive solution to the minorities’ problem. Even while war had to be waged, we began and completed a large number of essential development projects in the North and East.
Infrastructure damage during years of war was reconstructed – roads, bridges and culverts, irrigation works, telecommunication, electricity schools and the University, hospitals, saw extensive reconstruction and we made available credit for agriculture, small industries and fisheries.
This no doubt created employment locally for youth, who until then had seen no hope of a better future for themselves. Thus we were able to demonstrate to the Tamil civilians that there could exist Sri Lankan governments with honest intensions of including the Tamils and all other citizens equitably in the development process. Empirical evidence showed that the numbers of youth joining LTTE armies were considerably reduced, since we adopted these policies.
However, we understood that economic development alone could not succeed in creating a society where all our people would feel they were fairly and equitably included. For this, it was required to share political power which we the Sinhalese had jealously guarded to ourselves since independence, marginalizing all others not only in practice but also by law, by means of various legal enactments of constitutions and laws.
Hence we proposed to enact a new constitution, containing extensive devolution of power to the minorities, together with various other measures adopted to guarantee their rights. This draft constitution also contained measures to abolish the Executive Presidency which accords excessive power to the President.
We could not translate our dream of enacting this constitution and transforming a divided, violent Lanka into a united nation where peace prevails, because of the consistent and violent rejection of our Peace Proposal by the LTTE, as well as the obstinacy of the parliamentary Opposition in refusing to give the government the few votes required to make up the required 2/3rd majority in parliament.
We believe that educating the young was important for building a Shared Society and a united country. We introduced new subjects to the schools curricula and established Peace Education in every one of our 10,000 schools and educated young students about coexistence and the rights of all citizens to equal status politically, economically and culturally.
How do we resolve such conflicts? How can we build unity within these diversities, in order to achieve prosperity and peace?
* Firstly, governments must understand the co-relation between inequalities and social and political instability, leading eventually to economic regression. They must then decide to adopt policies to include all groups of citizens, when formulating development plans, in a manner that all are included in sharing the economic benefits, mainly education and job opportunities and land and other assets.
* Where there exists resentment caused by political exclusion, power sharing arrangements must be put in place.
* Thirdly, we must be aware that policies to correct inequality could cause hostility and violent rejection, by the dominant groups. Hence widespread, national support for such policies should be canvassed, through dissemination of information on the “fairness” of these policies, as well as the dangerous consequences of continued exclusion and inequality.
* Transparency and fair implementation of the policies will provide legitimacy.
* It is important to note that when policies have been implemented to correct inequality in only one sphere and not in the others, considerable positive change has not occurred.
However, systematic action to reduce inequality in social, economic and political spheres have proved to be effective in hugely alleviating inequality and ensuring peace. Ireland and Malaysia are examples of such success.
* The effective implementation of all this requires the political will of the Government and its leaders.
Numerous studies undertaken by academics, as well as international organizations that presently deal with inclusive development have ascertained a number of actions that could alleviate inequalities within nations. I shall enumerate the most important of these :-
* Getting the macro economics right.
Volatility in prices seriously undermines inclusive growth; hence fiscal discipline is important to stabilize the economy and should result in public savings during periods of growth, which would promote counter cycle deficit spending.
* A fair taxation and redistribution system with greater spending on education, health and public infrastructure will reduce the rich-poor gap and increase incomes of the poor.
* A business friendly exchange rate has also been found to encourage increase in production of manufactured goods, in the small and medium sectors. This would promote increase in incomes for the poor.
* Redistribution of public expenditure with a view to distribute benefits of growth to pro-poor expenditure – education, health and infrastructure development.
* Government must adopt policies for increased job creation, especially at the lower levels.
* Production sectors where the majority of the poor are engaged, must be identified and policies adopted to promote growth in these sectors.
* Targeted social protection schemes are required.
Subsidies for production inputs, cash handouts may be necessary in the initial stages of economic growth, in order to cushion the poorest.
* Capacity building - especially human capital development is an essential element to lift the excluded out of poverty and reduce inequalities.
* Governments must guarantee the Rule of Law and the basic rights of all to participate equally in economic growth. This means:-
(a) Effective administration of Government.
(b) Transparent governance and lack of corruption.
* Public / private partnerships where the Government works with private and civil society organizations which promote inclusivity. This could catalyze private funds, as well as skills for national development as developing countries usually suffer from considerable lack of technological and managerial skills.
* Governments can render markets more inclusive for the poor by :-
- Promoting easy access to credit
- Promoting human capital development
- Removing geographic obstacles
* The poor most often live in distant village areas with poorly developed infrastructure.
- Facilitating the movement of these communities to more economically advantaged regions or by taking infrastructure development to the rural areas would reduce inequalities.
This could be undertaken effectively by the business sector.
For example; there is profit in investing in the promotion of agricultural production among poor rural peasants, where the farmers obtain a higher price than they would have previously, while the companies have a secure supply of production at a lower price than if they purchased through middle men.
* Non-governmental organizations have demonstrated successfully that they can innovate products and processes targeting income markets, at low cost.
* Political Aspects
Political exclusion has given rise to multifarious conflicts through the ages, causing violent protest, sometimes leading to civil war.
Once again many studies of countries have shown the following :
- All inhabitants of one State must possess equal citizenship rights including voting rights.
- Representatives of all communities must be accorded fair representation in all elected and nominated institutions of Government and the administration, such as parliament, regional and rural assemblies and the public service.
- In instances where problems between certain communities have lasted for a long time and where inequalities persist, there could arise demands for political power sharing, such as decentralization, federalism and even a separate State.
- Experience shows us that such situations can only be resolved in a durable fashion through political power sharing arrangements.
* Cultural Aspects
Ethnicity, religion, language and cultural practices constitute the identity of person.
When communities perceive that their identities are not sufficiently recognized or are positively discriminated, violent protest may follow. Some of the most violent conflicts known in human history have been caused due to unequal treatment of communities using a different language or practicing a different religion.
Once again the solution lies in according equal rights to all different cultural communities.
- Asian Tribune -