President Barack Obama in one of his earlier books ''The Audacity of Hope'' rightly points out that : ''the standards and principles that the majority of Americans deem important in their lives, and in the life of the country, should be the heart of our politics, the cornerstone of any meaningful debate about budgets and projects, regulations and policies.''

Most of the values are common among different societies, cultures and religions, but every country according to its beliefs and priorities adopt these.

Just as individuals are judged and respected for their character and other achievements, so do nations, yet many countries seldom engage in a serious discussion about it at a national level.

In the developing world specifically, one's country image, however, remains a common topic and many a attempt are made to improve it. Bout the image is merely a reflection of how people judge their leaders and the world assesses the country's overall performance.

Irrespective of this consideration it is important to realise that unless a nation gives national character the attention and importance it deserves, many countries would continue to flounder.

BECAUSE good character is a functional requirement of a progressive and stable society. Only those nations progress consistently where character and conduct of leaders at large remains unblemished and the society records to it the highest priority.

As soon as any lapse or unlawful act on the part of the leaders comes to surface, demands of resignation or leave of absence become imperative until the proceedings and investigations remain in progress.

The Scandinavian and some European countries are generally rated to be on the top with their leaders and the society having a high level of integrity.

Their economies are faring relatively better, crime rate is low, and politics is less confrontational. These are also the most stable countries and rated for higher quality of life. 

Leaders are supposed to be dedicated to the cause and ideals of fair systems and expected to promote the right values. These in turn over a period become the shared values of a nation. People with shared values come together as they unite naturally.

In this the lead has to come from the top - the PM, head of the political parties, members of parliament, senior bureaucrats, military commanders, top businessmen, judges, legal luminaries, vice-chancellor of universities and on and on we can go.

Can nations achieve long-term gains and stability without a sound moral foundation?

There is of course a debate that has gone on for decades as to who determines what exactly the values should be. In a changing global scenario, with rapid progress in technology and mixing of cultures and all the mobility that the modern world facilitates, perception of value acquires a certain degree of flexibility. But fundamentals do not change.

The World at large for multiple reasons including lack of seriously adhering to correct values has been falling behind in major areas of development and in creating a stable society.

The world's image, thus, has suffered badly and this hurts the students and the world's collective ego. Whereas mankind is capable and inclined toward adhering to the right values for they know this will create a fairer and a just environment.

The World Students Society thanks author Talat Masood, a retired lieutenant general of Pakistan's Army and a former federal secretary.


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