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Wednesday January 12 2005 08:27 IST

By Karmayogi

Many people are genuinely sorry about wasteful seminars at the national and international levels. Surely there is more than a grain of truth in it. It is often treated as an academic holiday. The success of a seminar attendance sometimes depends upon the holiday resorts close to which it is arranged. Still, it is a fact that all the ruling ideas of the world today originally came out of such seminars. Or they gained currency because one such seminar endorsed them. Though the greatest of world wars were fought in the 20th century, military generals 'ruled' de facto in the previous 19th century. No major idea was evolved in the 18th or 19th century in a seminar; it was given to the world by men of action as a precipitate ACTION.

Gender equality, sustainable development, job-led growth, human rights, rights of the invalid, civil rights, Food Security, population control, right to water, conflict resolution, and a host of other ideas now rule the world. Each of them owes its birth to a notable seminar or a caricature of it. There was an international conference on education in Bhubaneshwar recently where 18 nations participated. Many progressive ideas were discussed in the various sessions. Some exchange of gifted students was arranged. One idea this conference considered with approval was self-education, otherwise known as home schooling. Already this idea and practice are popular among those progressive parents and promising students. Should it come to stay as a way of education later, this seminar would have played a seminal role in it.

Every movement is preceded by an IDEA; every revolution was given birth by an IDEA circulating in the world. Right to food is one such idea. By advocating this idea, the sponsors of it are unaware they are sowing the seeds of a Revolution, the scale of which the world has not witnessed. Right to food and right to water are catchy slogans already. By implication, they are voicing the Right of MAN, the individual. Man has the right to vote, he has the right to liberty, right of assembly, right to express his opinion and enjoy many other rights. Still, he does not have all the rights that are his due. There are rights granted to him by the government or society as a concession, perhaps in the spirit of condescension or charity. Only when he emerges as an individual, asserts his presence, comes forward to TAKE his rights as his birthright, not as a matter of consideration, will he come into his own RIGHT. And such an idea will be born in one of these meaningless seminars.
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