Daily life is nothing but a series of attempts to find solutions to problems. Every second or every minute we are confronted by one problem or another, some of which get solved automatically and some others cry out for our special attention. Our success or failure on a daily basis is the cumulative effect of our own ability to find (or failure to find) solutions to such problem series. The word ‘problems’ in our daily lives should not conjure up thoughts about all being complicated and difficult issues. It can be just a small concern about a trivial matter or a minor ailment and can extend up to the sudden news about the loss of a dear one. All these are problems that call for a response from our side.
Response to a problem can be either by solving or ignoring or even avoiding it. In a sense all these are solutions to various problems on hand. Some are quick in finding solutions, but many of us are quicker in ignoring or avoiding the issues confronting us. But there is a limit to which this can be done. Sooner or later all the issues will demand a solution and there can be no running away from them. All of us do it voluntarily or involuntarily. Quite surprisingly almost all the effective solutions we have found in our lives come from their immediate surroundings. In other words the most effective solutions to any issues are the so-called ‘local’ solutions. This is true in almost all types of issues in all spheres of operation.
Social problems confront us in a collective manner. This means that we are not always alone in confronting such problems and trying to sort them out. There are multiple brains and skills at work in solving any social issue. Opinions and suggestions will be forthcoming from various quarters, some of which may be unsolicited, provocative and with ulterior motives. But multiple options available for any single issue will always result in a better decision being taken, provided the decision makers are themselves impacted by the decisions thus taken. Democratic decisions are considered long lasting only because of this underlying logic of solutions coming from within and not being imposed from outside by outsiders who have no direct impact as a result of these decisions.
Continuing with the same logic of ‘within’ solutions, the best and most effective solutions will always come from resources which are local to any issue. It may not always be geographically local, but can be on any other basis viz. culture, gender, language etc. As an example, any issue concerning women is best solved by looking for a solution coming from women themselves though they may be in another location or from another cultural background. Those who are looking for solutions to social issues should make it a practice to tap resources and avenues that are local. Always remember that India’s freedom was won by Indians and British colonization succeeded because of the British. Never ever make the mistake of waiting for some others’ to solve our social problems.
Though the ‘local solution’ technique looks more logical and feasible in social issues, the same holds good in personal problems as well. One can appreciate it more if ever one had survived the trauma of an accident. Very often those who save our lives in any accident are not our own relatives or even friends. It is always the locally available and ‘willing’ witnesses who stand between life and death for us. Whatever is your bank balance and however big is your circle of friends, nothing will help you in an accident except the magnanimity of the local crowd. It is not unheard of sworn enemies rushing to help out at times of acute distress thanks to our basic humane qualities.
What is applicable for our ‘outside’ problems works well for our ‘own’ problems also. If we are in trouble, our first call must be to our own self. If we develop a habit of depending on others for everything, the most disappointed will be our own self. Expectation is the mother of disappointment and more of disappointment will only bring down the individual’s resource level. What an individual can normally do cannot be achieved by the same individual in a disappointed state. This simple fact results in many people failing to do what they actually can. The results are often very devastating. As a corollary it is worth mentioning that the achievements of determined individuals far exceed their normal capabilities. All that is required is development of a ‘no-expectation’ frame of mind.
Gandhiji’s idea of Grama Swarajya is one of the best illustrations of the concept of local solutions to all our daily problems. If each household, each community and each locality can develop facilities for solving a majority of their own usual problems, the overall quality of our lives will be much better. Instead, if we are always dependent on the state government or central government or even the global institutions to sort out our peculiar problems, most of us will end our lives with unfulfilled dreams and desires. Looking for local solutions for any type of problems is the best option available to a prudent set of individuals, communities and nations. This is all the more true in these times of aggressive globalization that is marginalizing more and more of deprived sections in our society.