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While there are so many factors which are important for true progress of humanity, some of these can be identified as the most crucial and essential.

Firstly, there should be a widespread sincere belief in and commitment to equality and justice. There should be absolutely no room for  any discrimination, any deprivation or any denial based  on race, religion, color, ethnicity, caste, gender, region or other such considerations. There is no justification either for prejudices and stereotyping based on such identities. Top priority should be given to meeting the essential needs of all people while at the same time respecting the dignity of all people. This should not be based on patronage but on a strong sense of justice for all and  commitment to a justice based world, where important decisions are taken on the basis of justice and not privilege or power. To correct historical inequality or special difficulties faced by some people or groups, affirmative action or equalizing provisions for them are very much a part of this wider commitment to equality and justice.

There should be a protective attitude towards nature ,environment  and habitats. Human beings in the process of meeting their various activities interact with and make some demands on nature, but this should always be with understanding , respect and a commitment not to destroy or disrupt nature. An attitude of respect should always be there, backed by a duty to understand so as to avoid disruption and destruction. There should be a willingness to spare a lot of effort and expense to correct past mistakes and damages.

There should b a protective attitude towards all forms of life, as well as a sense of compassion. Where any conflict develops between human beings and other forms of life, human beings have a right to protect themselves of course but they should seek the least violent ways of doing this, being defensive rather than offensive.

Fourthly, there should be very broad-based commitment to peace and non-violence. This includes peace within oneself, in the sense of a deep commitment to peace and non-violence, and extends from peace and non-violence in household and neighboring areas to inter-faith peace and harmony to peace at national and international levels, in essence peace at all levels.

There should similarly be a firm commitment to democracy and democratic functioning, ranging from household to neighboring areas and workplace all the way to national and international affairs.

Next, there should be a strong commitment to a sense of ethics and to caring much for ethical conduct. People should engage constantly with what is proper conduct from points of justice, equality, peace,  protection of environment etc. instead of simply following self-interest. For example there can be a simple ethical value that a person will not intentionally harm any other human being or any other form of life, a simple statement but with very widespread implications in life.

Seventh, the base of all relationships should never be dominance but instead as far as possible it should be understanding, care, concern, protection and cooperation. This applies to human relationships, of course, but in addition this also applies to relationships with nature and with other forms of life.

Last but certainly not the least, when threats emerge to basic survival and to basic life-nurturing conditions, there should be the ability to prioritize the protection of basic life-nurturing conditions above everything else and to mobilize all abilities and efforts for this. In the course of human history, such a survival crisis emerged from time to time in local contexts but now, in  present times, this has emerged in a global context for the first time, calling for mobilization of efforts of all humanity on the basis of top prioritization of this issue.

These are eight essentials of human progress as identified very briefly and in simple terms. Despite their obvious importance, these have been frequently neglected in most phases of human history, and this neglect continues to this day. The discourse based on GNP and technological achievements cannot provide a proper measure or indicator of human progress. It is possible for a society to amass great wealth or achieve technological wonders without really progressing in the true sense.

Bharat Dogra is a journalist and author. His recent books include Planet in Peril and Protecting Earth For Children. Web site bharatdogra.in


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