The paradox of universal inclusion

M Sadagopan *

"Everyone must have everything,
None should be afflicted by nothing
goes a Tamil film song of yesteryears. The poetic licence loses its coin in the face of practicality, or even otherwise, of a probable aftermath. It kicks off as a political slogan on poverty eradication, but that is where the red herring ends.

In these days when "inclusive growth" does the rounds, the buzz phrase is "for all"- "wealth for all", "power (whatever it may mean, from fruits of democracy to access to electricity) for all", "education for all" the glib talk of universal inclusiveness!

Be it clear that as a socially responsible citizen, I'm not wary of the concept, and would happily be part of the M&A effort "for all", with an axe to grind, since, if not wealth (prefix "access to"), power (here I limit the meaning to electricity) and education (I deem myself 'educated' in my own limited vocabulary of the term), I have 'access denied' slammed against me for many other privileges of democracy. In fact, I would champion 'happiness for all', a commodity everyone wants and nobody gets!

To cut to the chase, the concept of universal inclusiveness suffers from SDS (sudden death syndrome) within a few steps of the journey to El Dorado, being impractical and counter -productive.

Impractical, since 'everybody' cannot have anything, just as anybody cannot have 'everything'. This is the basis of barter economy. The qualification in the definition of the concept of 'full employment' does not lend practicality to it. A practical need to qualify 'universal inclusion' would halt our drive light years away from the Utopia, if not take it back to square one.

Another aspect on the flip side is that it dilutes the bull's eye, be it education, power, health, wealth, employment and what not. A harangue 'health for all' would qualify health as Quentin Crisp's crisp quip puts it in perspective, "health consists in having the same diseases as one's neighbours", so much so, the bird gets lost in the bush.

The paradox is, life's sustenance today depends on unsustainable infrastructure!

Viewing the theoretical concept practically, universal inclusion would be counter-productive, let's make no mistake about it. A distant dream, it would be an inconvenient neighbour! Let us imagine a space where there is perfect health for all sans any sickness whatsoever.

What will the doctors do? Pardon me, create one? If there is perfect peace everywhere, no strife in any nook or cranny, where would you deploy the police, lawyers and judges with their USP?

If there is full knowledge everywhere, where is the space for teachers? Can they afford to make themselves progressively redundant in line with the seemingly cynical definition of a teacher?

The paradox is, all these professions are for solving problems on which their livelihood is perched! By the Law of Unintended Consequences, which is a sociological replica of Newton's Third Law of Motion, we are running into the very situation we want to run away from!

The Galbraithian Paradox puts it rightly thus: "If a farmer works hard, he will be rich, if ALL farmers work hard, they all will be poorer!

Universal Inclusion is thus, at once a desideratum and a paradox. Market Intervention Operation is paved as a pathway through the Galbraithian Paradox. The pathway through the paradox of Universal Inclusion calls for a recalibration of the slogan around the paradigm of economic compulsions.

* M Sadagopan wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is the CFO, Loktak Downstream Hydroelectric Corporation Ltd, a poet, motivational speaker and social scientist. He can be reached at beerangi(AT)rediffmail(doT)com
The above is an excerpt from his book, Pathway Through Paradox)
This article was posted on February 08, 2016.

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