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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Empowerment is a process

Empowerment is a process

Empowerment- A Review and Reflection

Strong view on something long due.

Let us move from a decade of decay towards a direction of development.

Let us move from dependence on entitlements to empowerment.

I have been reading almost for the past one decade a lot of excellent expositions on empowerment from men and women of eminence, expertise and experience.

Some of them have made certain statements that can easily be included into the anthology of quotable quotes.

Many of them have emanated, especially from people with a proven and successful track record of empowering a group of new generation of educated executives, entrepreneurs, educators etc.

Though I read with interest all these, I have this bad habit of not letting anything unassimilated and untransformed by my mind and pen. So, I feel compelled to pen down some of my observations.

While some of them noted that empowerment in the 21st century is holistic: it is centered in groups or organizations, rather than individuals. 

A collective vision or goal must encourage and engage the spirit of the individuals involved in the group. 

Here empowerment shifts from individual-centered to collective-centered. 

Empowerment is a process of including everyone in a collective vision, helping everyone to lead towards that vision, planning, acting and learning together to build an empowered society where there is   a feeling of collective empowered identity.

While another group of essays contended that the concept of empowerment implicit in empowerment projects of the past is no longer adequate for dealing with the complexities of present day lifestyles. 

So, empowerment in reality rests on individuals who must be capable of taking charge of almost all aspects of their lives and also inspiring and influencing others to solve problems and achieve goals. 

Thus, each individual who is empowered must have a vision and ability to master the forces of change. 

Empowerment is a process that will be a bottom-up transformation of fluid, all-inclusive, action oriented force that is fueled by shared power.

Although various scholars and authors differ in their scope and focus when describing changes required to bring about the empowerment most of them in fact unwittingly have advocated growth or its manifestation in terms a competitive and self centered approach than a community based commitment.

Empowerment is rather a multi layered and complex structure. 

Empowerment in general can be said to be at the individual level, regional level, national level and ideologically identifying groups with similar tastes, life styles, aspirations and so on  socially, culturally, educationally  and intellectually. 

Identities, associations and  groups  get more complicated and multiplied in number all the more now thanks to the internet and enhanced more vigorously by social networks. 

The most positive aspect of this vast opportunity for horizontal interaction globally has reduced to a very great extent the perils of identity crisis which forced youth to be isolated within their locally or regionally accepted modes of identity.

At the individual level empowerment is what each of us summons from within. 

In this respect, certain qualities that we set as benchmark for empowerment will be found distributed among many people who in community are expected to be accountable, responsible and concerned about vital issues; 

Therefore, in that sense, empowerment is rather a fluid concept focusing on those behaviors which propel the development of society as a whole.

In brief empowered society can emerge only when there is enough encouragement and active promotion of empowerment with adequate propaganda and publicity about all that lead to empowerment. 

However, for this to happen, we must be clear about the fact that empowerment is a process starting from the personal empowerment which must be a manifestation of a comprehensive mixture of spiritual, humane, economic and psychological blossoming of the individual promoting important values of trust, commitment, sharing, and collective ownership leading to empowerment of the whole society. It cannot be created by any single straight jacketed formula or prescription.

We must realize that empowerment is a process and not a product. 

Empowerment is something that is achieved over time, not overnight.

It is a process but with a specific desired outcome. 

It is a process that starts from a mere permission and goes on to assume power.

It is a process that progresses not by conversion and subversion but through
communication and illumination. 

It is a process that we must ensure is as equable and as humane as possible. 

It is a process where the grand motive force must be to change for the better and learn how to multiply the positive aspects of it with wisdom and mercy.

It is a process in which all must realize the sacred bond uniting or integrating each of us to the rest of existence not necessarily through any particular organized or institutionalized set up. Because, even in matters of religion such approaches  lead inevitably to further complications of identity and rivalry both healthy and unhealthy among different institutions and organizations.

It is a process of collective endeavor as many great events in history have proved. 

It is process where   the driving motto in modern times must be to network and to organize people with similar thinking and willingness to support and to steer ahead without upsetting long cherished traditional, cultural, moral and regional value systems.

It is a process which does not make a group of privileged patrons whom we may term as tomorrow-makers, decide for the rest and make all the rest as mere spectators of their own future.

It is a process that does not constrict the possibilities in lives.

It is a process that must create situations conducive to facilitate the evolutionary migration of vast majority of human beings through different life conditions and value systems to lead a better life.

It is a process that is local as well as global as its core principle is migration from humiliations, inferiority complexes into the realm of dignity; 

It is a process that is internal and external; 

It is a process that is bottom-up and top-down; 

It is a process that is materialistic involving improvement of physical comforts, improved economic conditions and survival tools along with unfettered growth and opportunities ; 

It is a process that helps development of intellectual activities with enough room for expressing emotions; 

It is a process that is that gives scope to exhibit a variety of   social and cultural styles and types; 

It is a process that provides both physical and psychological space and freedom to pursue in unbiased manner different paths to experience and express all sorts of aspirations.

It is a process that must be done without any parochial or sectarian 'ism' be it political or religious with a mutual respect for one another and reciprocal encouragement from one another leading to real empowerment with peace unhindered by any identity either of the individual or group.

It is a process wherein we must realize the importance of experimentation and improvisation rather than following an established game plan. 

It is a process that does not rely on the hypotheses that current trends will carry forward into the future at roughly the same rate and it must note that this is as wrong as the cliché that history repeats itself because whenever or wherever it has repeated the manifestations and impacts, contexts and situations were totally different. 

It is a process that reminds us that fault lies as Peter says, "The difficulty in times of turbulence is not the turbulence, but to respond with yesterday's logic."

It is a process based on multiple factors technological and economic trends;social, spiritual and cultural factors.  

It is a process especially women empowerment , as India does not have one, thanks to internal regional and religious taboos along with political indifference for almost six decades, we have the opportunity to study and learn from other societies which are empowered in different aspects and avoid the mistakes that they have committed and take care to include the things that they have omitted so that, though our empowerment is delayed, it is highly dazzling in its entire splendor.

It is a process that must prompt pride of ancestry to promote hope for the future.

It is a process that must enhance life in its totality in all major facets the physical, mental, emotional, material and socio-cultural-spiritual etc. 

It is a process that must take note of constantly changing and evolving global influences, local impediments and interferences by the groups, which feel that they may lose their importance due to empowerment. 

It is a process that must be followed up with an appeal of a visionary and zeal of a missionary. 

It is a process wherein we must focus with intense totality and total intensity for tangible improvements, and ignore the lotus-eaters, luddites and all illogical and unloving criticisms. 

It is a process that must have clarity in terms of priority.

It is a process from a national perspective must chose the most potential and vital group of demography.

It is a process that has to be developed almost as an ideology to be followed with a fanatical zeal backed by massive publicity.

It is a process effecting massive changes and hence is a complex undertaking.

It is a process which must ensure maximum synergy in the relationships between collaborative and participatory groups.

It is a process designed to help people help themselves and improve their lives.

It is a process that evolves through the interplay of natural talents, opportunities, challenges and motivations.

It is a process which even if does not lead one to the decision making chair will at least lead one to the window of the decision making room to know what types of decisions are being taken.

It is a process that must target all youth especially girls.

It is a process that must project the reality along with positive solutions as is being done recently by the Government of India and slowly veer away the gullible masses from manipulative lobbies of negative fixations of various hues who make a business out of  victimhood peddling and problem projections.

It is a process that must effectively change the perspectives, attitudes and thereby the trends away from the radar of pathetic political parties which along with their sponsored mass opinion prompting media houses, aiding and  abetting bureaucrats and the sponsoring business communities, who all spend in millions on projects to publicize linguistic chauvinism, activities aimed promote capturing votes of the illiterate masses and many such futile activities while the majority of youth are mere passive spectators of these puerile and putrefying activities.

It is a process which must make the youth demand more opportunities to learn; more institutes of very high quality higher education which should become brand names of higher education; more institutes for Research and Development activities on many fields; more attention to protect our nation’s environment and preserve its natural resources; promote agricultural growth; demand economic development and availability of all facilities and infrastructure  for leading a decent life in all the rural areas as well.

It is processes that must ensure as many aspects are taken care of which would automatically lead economic development and social welfare.  As Jane Goodall says, “The greatest danger to our future is apathy."

Also see for good articles on Empowerment

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