September 03, 2016

Regionalism, Nationalism, Globalism

Thiha Zaw (Nay Pyi Taw)

Among the most fascinating news that have happened around the world during the month of August 2016, US presidential election update, 2016 Rio Olympic news & news about 21st century Panglong conference are the ones that can draw most attention among the public. There are of course winners & losers in 2016 Rio Olympic followed by the endless comments and critiques. As usual US & UK, world super powers, are the top winners. Emerging powers like China & Russia have done their best and clinched third & fourth places respectively. By going through the medal tally, I have seen a lot of lessons to learn.
India, another emerging power and already a regional power, stood at 67th position with one silver & one bronze trophy only. What is more disappointing fact is that it stands at the lowest position in medal score per capita taking into account of its 1.3 billion plus population. The fact that these two trophies were won solely by the athletic Indian ladies makes male dominated Indian society a little frustrating.
Both China & India, Olympic ranking 3rd & 67th respectively are important neighbors for us. Since the rise and fall of their power can have a tremendous impact on the politicosecurity & socioeconomic affairs of our public and the state, we must draw some lessons about their national power from their Olympic performance. National power can be divided into hard & soft power. Components of hard power are economic and military power and can be evident easily. Soft power is less tangible and includes diplomatic power, cultural factors, educational performance and influence as well as historical factors. Cultural factors include not only traditional factors like literature, religion & cultural heritage but also media power and sports performance. Number of movies produced and number of TV channels which can penetrate globally are part of the national power.
Why are India & China, emerging powers of more or less comparable standards, so different in sports performance? This is a very wide question and there are many influencing factors like public interest in sports, cultural and traditional preferences. Here I like to highlight one probable factor for such a huge difference. Chinese community is composed of more or less homogeneous Han Chinese especially in the highly populated northern, eastern and southern part of the country. Most of them speak Mandarin wherever they are  from originally. Political system led by the Communist Party of China set up the People’s Republic of China as a Nation State with little room for diversity. Therefore, nationalism is more common than regionalism among Chinese citizens.
In contrast, Indian society is divided by various factors like political system which divide the power between central & regional governmants, caste system, language barriers and native states (provinces). Although Hindi is widely spoken and regarded as official language, there are other major languages spoken in western, eastern & southern states (provinces) like Gujarati, Punjabi, Bengali, Tamil & Telagu. I have travelled to both countries for a few times & I have a feeling that Indians
are more proud to talk about their native states than India. It is
because India has never been a Nation State in its history from the perspective of political science.
India was a kind of sultanate until it was conquered by Mogul emperor in 16th century. It became a more or less unified colonial state under British rule since late 18th century. After independence in 1947, it became a staunch icon of democratic state. It has walked unswervingly for nearly 70 years on the road to multiparty democratic parliamentary system. It is no wonder that for an Indian citizen, regionalism is as important as Indian nationalism. Unity among diversity has worked well in India society. But there are prices to be paid in terms of building national power. Both regionalism and nationalism have their strengths & weaknesses. Strong regionalism can weaken the nationalism and building of national power. In contrast to India, China can build the strong nationalism and possesses stronger hard & soft national power. On the other hand, strong nationalism can absorb the culture & tradition of minority ethnic groups causing relentless worry among them.
In 21st century, the concept of regionalism and nationalism is not enough for any community. The inevitable process of globalization can make every people  think about globalism and global citizenship. Since the start of globalization, the world is like the opening of Pandora’s Box. If we haven’t anticipated and made preparation, we don’t know which item to grasp and soon we will be in a messy situation. Other well prepared persons will certainly grasp the opportunity at the expense of ours. Universal Declaration of Human Rights state that everyone has equal opportunity regardless of sex, age, color, ethnic origin, religious belief and so on. But it is only for those who can think and act beyond the boundary of regionalism and nationalism. For our younger generation to reap the profit from the process of globalization, our present generation will need to think about balancing between regionalism and nationalism as well as laying good and strong foundation whatever the differences we have now. That is the essence of eminent people from home & abroad has talked about 21st century Pang- long conference.
During the conference State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has warned that eternal peace is not only for those in the conference room but also for 51 million people of Myanmar who are so eager to see the peaceful dove flying over the sky above Myanmar. UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon has also warned that in order for the national reconciliation process to be successful, all stakeholders must accept that some of their respective objectives will need to be compromised. Commander-in-Chief of defence services also warned that extreme regionalism and ethnic bias are contrary to the democratic principles and can reach nowhere.
Many people around the world acknowledged that the peace process in Myanmar is no easy job. But even one day delay is the 51 million-day opportunity lost for all the people of Myanmar. Ongoing armed conflict based on various personal interests and bias can perpetually lead to loss of lives, loss of natural resources and most importantly, loss of precious time and deepening poverty among the people of Myanmar. Everybody must set aside their differences in the peace process and work towards building peace and national power by balancing between regionalism, nationalism and globalism.


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