“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.”―Jim Rohn
Undoubtedly, human beings are dependent upon nature, animals and of course other human beings to fulfill multitude needs related to their physical and emotional well-being. Where on the one hand, dependency is indispensable, there are certain limits where over dependence can cause major distortions in one’s life. For example, it is alright for an unwell or disabled person to rely on another for food and mobility but those who are hale and hearty and who, out of sheer laziness are reluctant to fend for themselves even for very minor necessities, is a behavior that is absolutely senseless. Thus, dependency is a relative term which must be looked at on a balance of probabilities.
Under normal circumstances, children are dependent on their parents in the initial years of their lives, then at one point, both appear to become independent of one another until old age hits on the parents that may reverse the roles of dependency. However, where these lines become blurred due to authoritarian attitude of the elders or disobedience of the young ones, then the outcome could be in the form of violated rights, dissatisfaction with life, emotional instability and a general atmosphere of uneasiness, tension and insecurity that in most of the cases result in acute bitterness and tattered families.
Levels of dependency also vary from culture to culture and political ideologies but certain countries (colonies of invaders) have been deliberately rendered dependent for reasons recorded best in historical and political chronicles. However, either colonialism or neo-colonialism is not the focal point of discussion. These are hard realities that kept the twentieth century gripped in multitude of man-made problems giving rise to massive destruction and loss of human capital yet the ones who learnt their lessons in time emerged from heaps of waste to roost on economic success and prosperity. These were the nations that delved deep into their intellect to weigh their weaknesses and strength, to enhance their knowledge, to digress from their past miscalculations, breaking away their dependence on the resources of their earlier colonies and developing reliance on their own.
The key word here is “consciousness,” the meaning of which, under-developed countries, due to years of subjugation, seem to have forgotten. After attaining liberation from the colonial powers, majority of these states have failed in establishing a self-reliant economy and are forced to take monetary support from donors like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. In return, they are obliged to take dictation on how to govern their countries and how to manage their development programmes. What a great price of freedom for self-rule and political independence! “Out of the frying pan and into the fire” best describes the fate of these so-called “free” countries.
We are well aware that before the advent of colonialists in the Indo-Pakistan Subcontinent, there existed traditional and indigenous means of administration that catered to the mental level of the people and good or bad, other than localized rebellions, battles and tug of war between the many kingdoms, the general economical state was relatively stable. Those engaged in vocational businesses were prosperous, with conducive climatic conditions, food was plentiful, trade with neighbouring countries was thriving, art and cultural activities were at their best and in short the region, because of its affluence, was popularly recognized as the Golden Bird in the seventeenth century.
With the coming of colonial masters during the subsequent two centuries, history witnessed a complete turnaround of the pomp and glory of the people, their values, their culture and unfortunately, their self-esteem. All that was proper before, suddenly changed into unbecoming and unacceptable and the ensuing generations got entangled in inferiority complex with respect to their roots. In his book published in 1963, historian William Hardy McNeill made an interesting observation. He writes: “The Rise of the West,’ as intended by the title and meaning of this book, is only accelerated when one or another Asian or African people throws off European administration by making Western techniques, attitudes, and ideas sufficiently their own to permit them to do so”.
Consequently, when this area was decolonized after 1945 and when Pakistan was born in 1947 the new administrators were so keen to step into the shoes of the English (gora sahibs) that rather than evolving a system congenial with the mind-set of the nation and encouraging self-reliance, especially on the economic front, they sheepishly looked towards their departing masters for support in running their own affairs and governing their own people.
Now that we have entered the eighth decade of our existence, we are still groping in the dark looking for solutions and that too from those foreigners who were totally oblivious of our traditions, derided about our manners, declared our society as backward, enforced their own notions with impunity, robbed us of our resources, stalled the expertise of our artisans replacing their invaluable efforts with machine-made products, who left us politically disunited at the mercy of selfish politicians amid harsh outcomes of sectarianism and internal rifts—and yet we expect that their proposals will help us in regaining our lost prestige? After all, why should these “tomb raiders” have any sympathy for a nation that refuses to pay heed to the cries of its own people?
Had we looked inwards for ideas, had we believed in ourselves, had we trusted our own concepts of self-reliance, had we not placed our faith in false hopes of regenerating our destiny by taking support of financial crutches of the West, we would have discovered treasures that sprout from the idea of self-reliance as against dependency, a syndrome which has taken over our entire nation. The mounting number of, beggars in the streets, paupers waiting for alms from Ehsaas programme of the government, destitute desperately trying to get a small share from Zakat Fund, needy calling upon charitable institutions to resolve their problems, are all reflective of governments in power that never strove to stand up on their own feet but continued to burden every member of the population with foreign and local loans, decrementing their pride as citizens of a free state.
Autonomy is great but one can never truly be self-determined if one has no financial standing. Karren Brady, member of the House of Lords, United Kingdom has ably translated this notion in the following words: “The one thing I wanted was independence. And I realised to have that independence, you needed financial independence.”
Our successive governments should have been more frugal in their expenses, more ambitious in exploring their own resources, less pompous in displaying vulgar ostentation and more grounded in their approach. Had they followed these policies, Pakistan could have laid claim to being a genuinely independent country. This enlightening quote by Calvin Coolidge sums it all. “There is no dignity quite so impressive, and no one independence so important as living within your means.”
The writer, lawyer and author, is an Adjunct Faculty at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS)