Social freedom from my perspective can be defined as the individual freedom to want what one desires and the freedom to live without fear, and also the freedom to agree to disagree. Many in the world are denied freedom and their lives are repressed by religious and political fundamentalism and thus there is constant conflict both within and outside. It is also the freedom to choose our lifestyle based on our aptitude and interest without having to be dictated by others.
Social responsibility on the other hand is the actions of an individual that must benefit the whole society. Whatever we do for our living, there must be a balance between economic growth and the welfare of society and the environment. If this equilibrium is maintained, then the social responsibility is accomplished.
Social freedom if accompanied with social responsibility can help create an ideal place where we can still live in a healthy environment, breathing fresh air, drinking fresh water, eating organic food, and thus maintaining good health and wellbeing.
Ladakh for centuries enjoyed this equilibrium until the dawn of the so-called development that brought about social irresponsibility and led to so much of imbalance in our society. In the name of development we are recklessly in the process of destroying our fields and building more shops, hotels, guesthouses, resorts etc. we are also buying new cars, buses, trucks and so on. Can you imagine today we have a rush hour and it’s crazy? We bought the vehicles, but our infrastructure is so poor that it’s unmanageable. There is hardly any space for parking. Air is polluted and the city is so crowded, there is hardly any space to breathe. It seems that we haven’t been able to utilize our freedom wisely and the choice we are making today is undoubtedly leading for a disastrous end.
The government seems to be lost. They are in a fix whether to break all Leh and rebuilt it or just sit and relax and enjoy the chaos and the best way to rid off their responsibility is to blame it on the other political party.
Due to our irresponsibility, in this past decades, our traditional join family changed into nuclear family thus neglecting our elders, most of our valuable rites and rituals are disappearing, our respect for the religious objects are becoming very superficial, our faith and devotion are dwindling, centuries old stable and self-reliant agricultural economy, growing barley, wheat and peas and keeping livestock seemed obsolete, love marriage is overtaking the well thought and planned arranged marriages. All the agricultural produce were used and reused, there was hardly any wastage, and today we have so much of garbage everywhere. It has become a big concern both for the community as well as for the government regarding waste management. Today our biggest concern for the environment is the growing number of dumping centers and its ill-management. The fresh glacier water that fed the whole village today has become undrinkable and at times even unfit to wash clothes.
Human and animal wastes made excellent natural fertilizers that added in improving the agricultural produce and today that is being replaced by harmful chemical fertilizers and preservatives. The traditional way of life was purely ecological and eco-friendly. Today we are ready to sacrifice the whole environment in order to fulfill our greed and unlike our ancestors we have become very shortsighted.
The freedom to start new business has led to opening of many wine shops and bars apart from other business thus leading to unhappiness and destroying many families. Moreover importing all industrial products packed in plastics has replaced our staple organic fresh food. The upcoming generations are fed with all these adulterated and processed food and that day is not far when our kids would think milk is produced from cans and not cows.
The value based education is being replaced by tummy based education thus producing qualified but greedy and frustrated youths. In this fast-paced society, we are already paying the price for the so-called progress. Some of our own inventions have become a threat to humanity. We are living in constant fear of our irresponsible creation.
We are already experiencing a lot of stress in the mad race for excellence as there is high expectation be it education, profession, relationships, marriages, etc.
In the past, Ladakh community was like a closely knit family. Everyone took the responsibility to make sure that whatever they thought, said or did was based on collective brainstorming. Everyone kept an eye on the behavior of the kids; every now and then they would get valuable suggestions and advises. But today they are so free and as they grow they don’t bother to listen to their parents forget about the community elders. Busy parents hardly have quality time with their children and many resorts to unhealthy habits and ruin their career.
In early times, all ages of people actively participated in the overall development of the village. Students were not just school going, they were true students in every aspect of life in the society. They didn’t have to bother caring loads of books and this mad competition for excellence. They spent much time grazing the cows; helping in the fields, helped built their houses and participated in every development activities. Thus, they remained physically and mentally fit and thus kept the heritage of Ladakh alive.
Today it’s hard to see dedicated responsible citizens who care for the community. With a few exceptions, today’s politicians, bureaucrats, and all other professionals merely fulfill their personal wellbeing and are least bothered for the overall development.
We are lucky that at least we have the awareness of the responsibility, let’s be positive and consider it’s never too late to realize and change wisely. Realization is the key to improvement and change for the better.
We are only at the transition period from a traditional to a very modern society. Transition in any culture is the most difficult part as there is a lot of confusion. If Ladakh wants to survive and maintain a balance between the economy and the ecosystem, we must all realize our obligation of social responsibility to act for the benefit of our society at large and be a good example for others.