Towards Promoting Yemeni Readers’ Sensitivity [Archives:1999/29/Reportage]

July 19 1999

Dr. Ramakanta Sahu, 
Associate Professor 
College of Education, Mahweet 
The role of newspapers in carving out a new and healthy social order can never be overestimated. A cursory glance at the currents and crosscurrents of world history gives ample evidence of the crucial role the printed media has played in spearheading revolutions in the realm of ideas, as a result of which old and decadent ideas have yielded place to the new. The French Revolution. The American War of Independence, the Indian Freedom movement, and the South African Liberation movement have all gained substantial momentum, thanks to the pioneering role of newspapers as the heralds of new ideas. 
Throughout the history of the civilization, it has been individuals with the required vision and outlook, or a creative minority, who have been instrumental in providing leadership to translate the ideas into action and help mankind shake off the shackles of slavery to decadent ideas. 
In the context of globalization and the approaching millennium, we here in Yemen, like all others in the rest of the world, are gearing up to herald a new social order, stripping off the practices that have been worn by the ravages of time. Many pertinent issues in the social, academic, administrative, environmental, hygienic and other spheres of human activity are being espoused in print and in the electronic media for raising the level of public awareness and inviting people’s participation in the successful implementation of the new, incoming ideas with a global perspective. But, the question is whether we are taking adequate note of all the ideas, and deciding on appropriate strategies on the individual or social levels, in order to make the ideas a reality. As we know, ideas are only abstract entities, and cannot bear fruit unless followed up by an appropriate action plan. Ideas are, of course, sparks and have the potential to ignite the process of creative transformation, provided a step is taken at the right time and in the right direction. As Shakespeare says: 
“There’s a tide in the affairs of men which taken at the full leads on to fortune …” 
On the other hand, if we continue to hibernate in the midst of the flowing ideas, there will be nil progress. 
Sometimes we may be convinced of the saliency of the ideas and the urgency of their adoption or adaptation, but the din and bustle of life and its pressing demands may not permit us to seriously pursue these. As a result, the induced ripple of enthusiasm dies a natural death and ideas do not crystallize into concrete action. 
Lack of sensitivity to the pertinent issues around us is certainly a sign of disease, not of health. Inertia, inaction, and indolence are all symptoms of decadence, not of progressiveness. As such, the need of the hour is to sensitize ourselves to the latest developments in various fields of human endeavor, and to have the will to act. 
When we have before us a plethora of issues, we have to decide on our priorities in terms of their personal or social relevance and place them in context. Otherwise, we run the risk of losing a sense of purpose and direction in the bewildering profusion. Having decided on the priorities, the next important thing is to decide on the logistics of it. This needs insight and careful planning of the steps in the process. We should be clear sighted enough to see how and where to begin, how to follow it up and how to carry an issue to its logical end, giving it a fitting closing. But the fact remains that it is the proper perspective which is of utmost importance. Beginning is highly significant, because ‘well begun is half done.’ Consistency and precision in following the successive steps are of no mean significance, in so far as the process adopted to complete a task is to a large extent the chief determinant of the product. Self-sustaining vigour and vibrant enthusiasm are the prime catalysts recreating, renewing, reinvigorating, and enriching the individual to move ahead until the goal is reached and the task is well accomplished. 
Social transformation is a slow process. No millennium has ever been achieved overnight or effortlessly. It calls for a tremendous amount of verve, vitality and vigour. It is a long and somewhat arduous process involving a lot of insightful planning, cautious execution, continual monitoring and evaluation, and required modifications. “Rome was not built in a day.” Sometimes the frankenstein of frustration might threaten to intimidate all our reserves of energy, pushing us to the brink of dejection and despondency. Patience and forbearance should stand us in good stead, and we should unrelentingly march ahead with single minded grit and resolve. 
However determined an individual is, he cannot move mountains alone. The successful accomplishment of a task of any serious magnitude is contingent on the concerted mass action, in which the individual initiative is the very foundation of the endeavor. 
The Yemeni press is alive to the abiding needs of the contemporary society, and is leaving no stones unturned to educate the public sensibility by publishing a good deal of instructive material. But these ideas, covering a wide range of areas of public interest, would remain at the level of abstractions unless the propositions crystallize into tangible action plans. 
Hence, the need of the hour is to form task forces to formulate an agenda of action on frontiers such as health and hygiene, cleanliness, literacy drives, tourism and so forth. In this way, the newspapers and other mass media can relate themselves more meaningfully to social needs. So, let’s wake up to the compulsions of the present and the imperatives of the future, and, like a man of action, ‘take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing end them.’ 
The NGO’s can also come forward and join hands in the venture. The call of the moment is to diversify and reach out. We may heed the voice of oriental wisdom: 
“Arise, awake, and stop not till the goal is reached.” 
“No words, but acts,”Development, in realistic terms, is a bottom-up process. But the beginning has to be made somewhere by somebody. It is better to light a candle than to curse darkness. 
Yemen is an old country, but a young nation. The crucial stakeholders for national reconstruction and social transformation are decidedly the mass of intelligentsia, the intellectuals, the thinkers who are the pioneers, the torch bearers, and leaders in the sphere of public life. If their minds are a laboratory, a Think-Tank to tryout different alternatives, new ideas can emerge and Yemen can achieve the quantum leap.