I feel greatly honored to be here today, a great day for the people of the Philippines,
a day of remembrance and dedicationremembrance of a great leader of men and
dedication to his great ideals of freedom and fulfillment of the human spirit. This Award
and this day make it possible for peoples beyond these islands, which Ramon Magsaysay was
privileged to serve and lead, to participate in this inspiring ceremony of remembrance and
I should like to express my gratitude to the Trustees of the Magsaysay Award Foundation
that they found me deserving of this honor, and for their generous citation. In this I
find not a personal recognition but recognition of the ideas that I have been pursuing and
trying to translate into action. In that sense this Award will be a source of much
encouragement to me and my colleagues in the work that we are doing to build a new India.
As an Indian I feel proud that since their inception, one of these Awards has gone every
year, except for one, to my country. This indeed is an indication of the high regard in
which the people of these islands hold India. Let me on my part assure you that the people
of India reciprocate in full measure this feeling of friendship and hold you in great
affection and regard. I hope these Awards will be a powerful bond to bring our countries
closer than they happen to be today.
All the countries of the worldof Asia, Africa and South Americathat have won
their freedom in recent times and whose natural growth had been retarded on account of the
bonds of colonialism, are trying to catch up with the advanced countries and build their
societies as fast as possible. In this the model many have before them is that of the
highly industrialized and affluent West. A few countries have set up before them the
Eastern model presented by successful communism, whether Russian or Chinese. There is much
in both the Western and Eastern models that is of abiding value and that the developing
countries should accept and assimilate. The ideals of individual liberty, of government by
consent and of the rule of law that the Western model has, by and large, emphasized as the
true foundations of society's political organization, are undoubtedly ideals that should
be adopted and assimilated by the developing peoples. In the same manner, the concern of
communism for the toiler and its drive toward greater economic equality are values that
must also inspire and guide them.
But there are.in both models essential characteristics that, to my mind, should be
rejected. In the Western model, the ruling ethic is that of individualism and competition,
it being assumed that in the process the weaker will be driven to the wall. There is also
an excessive emphasis on the satisfaction of material needs and their consequent
multiplication, leading to serious imbalances. Western life is also unbalanced for the
reason that sufficient attention is not paid, on account of the predominance of certain
utilitarian and commercial values, to the interrelationship between man's work, leisure,
habitat and happiness. The drive towards urbanization, resulting in the monster of the
megalopolis, has destroyed the community, divorced the urban from the rural and forcibly
alienated man from nature. The result is a distorted growth of man and society.
On the other hand, the communist model also presents a distorted picture of human and
social development. It strikes at the very root of man, by denying the primacy of his
spirit and by deliberately suppressing it. By glorifying power and authority, as
represented by the party and the state, and by making everyone and every thing subservient
to them, it makes of society a vast prison house for the human spirit.
The new countries, therefore, while rejecting in totality both these models, must take
from them what is of value and conducive to balanced spiritual and material growth of man
and society. Happily, in the advanced countries themselves, particularly of the West, much
thought is being given to this problem, and there is also some experimentation. These
should be of great value to the new countries.
Development of science, both physical and social, has made it possible for the first time
in history for human societies consciously to shape their future. But in no society, not
even those where the sciences have developed farthest, are men prepared to be guided by
science. They have their narrow interests, their prejudices and predilections, their
concern with immediate things, their myths and ideologiesall these make the voice of
science a cry in the wilderness.
As far as the new countries are concerned, even though they have an almost clean slate to
write upon and a wonderful opportunity to select the best from the extant models and
reject the rest, two circumstances make it almost impossible for them to do so.
Firstly, vast numbers of the peoples of these countries are too uneducated to be able to
draw upon the teachings and techniques of science; and secondly, they are economically so
backward and poor that their single overpowering anxiety is to secure before all else
their economic development. This is understandable. But there was no reason to believe
that economic development would have suffered if equal attention had been paid to the task
of achieving a balanced human and social development. Indeed, if economic development had
been thought of in terms of economic well-being of the mass of the people and not in terms
of providing a base for industrial and military power, there should have been every reason
to believe that the rate of development might have been faster.
Many of the new countries, it hardly needs to be pointed out, present such unstable
societiesdue either to their having become arenas of the power-struggle that rages
between the mighty nations or to their internal situationthat they will be unable
for a long time consciously to build their future.
Nonetheless, it needs to be stressed that even those new countries that are in some
position consciously to direct their future course, have no clear picture of their goals
apart from such cliches as democracy, socialism, communalism, industrialism, modernism and
The central point to be stressed in this connection, and with that I wish to conclude, is
that the question posed here is a question of values. Looked at from that standpoint it
should not be difficult, not only to chalk out the course for the future, but also to
achieve a consensus of public opinion behind the endeavor to reconstruct a new society.