Recently, during the Independence Day, I heard this famous song, "Minivan kamun alhuvethi kamah dhaanan hey? Nudhaanamey!", when translated it means something like: 'Will you go from independence to suppression (or colonialism), No, (I) won't go!'. The has many other such examples, mostly asking the question whether we'd choose a negative for something positive. Today, I've been asking myself and many others, similar type of questions.
From our very early childhood, we've been reading and hearing about the uniqueness of our country, Maldives. I've always been proud to say 'I'm from Maldives', whenever I get introduced to someone while abroad. We have been unique not only due to the geography or the natural beauty of our islands, lagoons and seas; but also due to the homogeneity of the population. We've been boasting about this 'one-ness' all the time, saying that we speak the same language, we are the same race, we have the same religion. And until recently, we always had the same President. So, we were 'unique', and that's the story of Maldives. That's not all, we've also been talking about the peacefulness of our islands, with no violence, no protests, and very less crimes; almost a 'Pleasant-ville' kinda place, where people have been kind, polite, obedient, and well-behaved. I can still remember those days., and I'm not that old.
But now? Do we still have that one-ness? I dont think so. Our society has been transformed in many ways, socially and economically. Every day we hear about an incident of either a gang fight, or a person being killed, or a person dead being over-dozed, or a political protest, or a mass demonstration, or tourist resort being shut-down because of a strike, or a Supreme Court being hi-jacked by the Police, or a cabinet submitting mass resignation, and the list goes on.
I agree that we've obtained many civil liberties that were non-existent earlier; we've now got freedom of expression, we've got a free media, we've got a separation of powers, and independent Judiciary, a Supreme Court, political parties, a human rights commission, a police integrity commission, and most of all, a brand new Constitution with many political and governance reforms. However, I still wonder, are we 'better-off'? Will you choose violence for peace and harmony? Will you choose polarization and political dividedness to national unity? Will you choose gang violence to the peacefulness we had in Maldives? I don't know about you, I surely dont want most of the reforms at the expense of the uniqueness and the one-ness that we had.
From an economic and developmental point of view; why do you think most of the African countries are still lagging behind on economic development? According to two famous economists Easterly and Levine, ethnic fragmentation has been a big impediment to economic growth in Africa. Many other factors like corruption, mis-trust to the institutions, the judicial system, and higher authority, are all impediments to growth and development. Today, we see similar characteristics in our society. The country is becoming fragmented and polarized. There people of different political parties, with different opinions or personal grudges. There are people following different sects of the religion, or having their own 'group' of friends with their own style of dressing. There are many expatriates, with their own set of beliefs and culture. There are 'gangs' with their rival other 'gangs'. There are many independent and autonomous institutions or commissions working 'on their own', without any regard to others. With all these, I dont see many possibilities of our country moving forward with further economic growth and development, unless somebody somewhere does something to unite us all once again.