Sunday, August 21, 2016

Indian Independence

It has now been 70 years since India attained her independence from British rule. At that time, many small kingdoms had to be brought under one umbrella for the nation to take shape. It can be said that the heart of India was born when independence was achieved in 1947. But the soul of India has been in existence for thousands of years, since the ancient Vedic times. Indian culture has always espoused unity amidst diversity. Every living creature lives in and shares a heavenly space between the earth and the sky. Why is this space heavenly? It is because it nurtures and sustains all life forms without preference for one over another. Beyond the sky, outer space is hostile to life as we know it. We are indeed very lucky that we have this rare chance of being witness to the wonders of the universe from such a comfortable and beautiful place we call earth.

The entire Vedantic thought can be summarized in one phrase, “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” which literally means, the whole earth is one family. The entrance hall of the Indian Parliament bears this inscription. More recently, this lofty phrase has been brought to the attention of the world by India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his various speeches in India and abroad. He has put forth a great vision for India. By studying his life, one could conclude that he has no selfish or personal ambitions. Having given everything up in the service of the country, he has no personal wealth or family to speak of. When he left his post as Chief Minister of Gujarat, he donated his entire salary that he had earned during his tenure. All that money went to a very noble cause of educating the daughters of the lowest ranking government employees. He assumed the post of Prime Minister of India with only the clothes on his back to his name. When he says “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” he really means it. No one is alone. We have the entire world as our family. Let us rejoice in that.

In 70 years since India’s independence, the country has grown just as a newborn grows into an adult. Adulthood is the time when one has to offer one’s contribution (big or small) not just to one’s family but to the immediate community, the nation and indeed, the entire world. Instead of questioning others about what they have done for the nation and the world, one must ask oneself that question first. The time has now come for each one of us to put our petty differences aside and step up and contribute to the welfare of the world. Time is ebbing away every moment. Every moment lost is a monumental loss not just for an individual but for the entire nation. Prime Minister Modi has set an example in time management. For instance, during a recent foreign trip, the itinerary was planned in such a way that nights would be spent flying from one country to another and not in hotels. Even on the those night flights, the nation’s work went on uninterrupted. For a leader, there is no real personal time and the value of every moment is multiplied by the population of the country. If a leader stops working, the progress of the nation is interrupted. By his actions, Narendra Modi has exemplified that.

We take a lot of things for granted such as water, land, air and sunlight. These are gifts from Mother Nature for our enjoyment. Rather than sharing these resources and caring for them as one would of one’s own body, some hoard wealth and destroy the wealth of the nation through corrupt practices. Corruption is not just acquiring wealth through ill gotten means but also wasting precious time and opportunity. The senses are the source of our corruption. They are also the means to see beauty and unity everywhere if we choose to use them in that manner. A nation’s wealth is not only in its natural resources but also in human resources. Both have to be nurtured and used wisely. We can get the best out of people only if we treat them well and motivate them. In this regard, Narendra Modi is conducting himself as the “Prime Motivator” of India. Not just by his eloquent speeches, but more importantly by his thoughts and actions.

A leader has to be like a mountain, standing tall and fighting day and night as a beacon of hope to the rest of the country. A mountain gives rise to many rivers and countless people benefit from it. There is no expectation of a return on the part of the mountain. It weathers many storms and harsh conditions while remaining unmoved. Similarly, a leader will have to weather many personal insults and verbal attacks from numerous enemies. A true leader must be willing to sacrifice everything for the sake of the nation. To generate electricity, electrons have to travel from a negative terminal to a positive terminal. Prime Minister Modi is trying to electrify his nation both literally and figuratively by turning all the negative elements of governance towards the light of positivity and prosperity for all. Just as a battery stores and saves electricity, these changes have to be stored in each Indian’s heart so it can be given to the next generation. One drop of water cannot be a river but a single drop of water can be the start of a giant river. The force of that water can cut through solid rock. Similarly, change can be brought to India only if the river of humanity that courses through India becomes united in one cause, that is of peace and prosperity of not just India but of the entire world.

As a big step towards unifying India, not just geographically, linguistically or culturally, Prime Minister Modi is shepherding commercial unification of all states and turning India into a single market like the European Union. Similarly, all Indians would greatly benefit if there is a common oversight of electricity, major roads and water distribution throughout India. Every Indian regardless of religion, and each part of India, whether rich or poor is equally important if overall growth is to be achieved. Just because the soles of our feet may be in contact with a dirty shoe, we are not careless with our feet. If there is a small injury to the foot the mobility of the entire body is lost. No matter how rich or learned one is, one cannot walk comfortably if one’s foot is injured. Similarly, every strata of society is equal and each one has a role to play. All must be equally respected and taken care of. No amount of money can prevent division and segregation of people. However even a small thought of goodness can unite hearts. That is what is required in the world today. Prime Minister Modi proudly showcases the unique talents and capabilities of India in every one of his speeches. One India, One World should be the modern day mantra for all Indians.