Despite rising threats of religious terrorism, Naxalism and natural disasters, India is moving ahead. What makes India tick? India was born in the midst of religious strife, violence and trauma. Religion has never been a unifying force in the world. What accounts for India’s continued strength in the midst of such religious and cultural diversity?
In this century, China has been held together by force while India has been held together by cultural and spiritual bonding. Though religious fundamentalism, caste violence, Naxalism and natural disasters have rocked India in recent decades, the country’s resilience that is anchored in her spiritual values has become far more visible in the world.
India is married to its principles: liberty, spirituality and a nationalism that honours universalism. It is one of the oldest civilisations on the planet. When America was not yet discovered and Europe was in its Dark Age, India’s glory was widespread. It was famed for art, architecture, spirituality and trade.
Over the centuries, the country has faced and survived many challenges. On the one hand, India has touched pinnacles of justice and equality, on the other Dalits have been oppressed. India is a country of non-aggressive, humane people, yet practices such as sati have prevailed. It is very difficult to judge India. There is no midway: either people have a high opinion or low opinion about India because it is full of opposites.
For centuries, India’s negative aspects have been projected over the good ones. Fortunately, that’s changing. As a country, divided by language and caste and subjected to centuries of humiliation, it continues to reel in low self esteem. Like an elephant that can uproot trees but is scared of themahout’s small stick, India can be timid at times. Even the West has called it a sleeping giant.
With one sixth of the world’s population, she could have already played a bigger role. She now needs to take her rightful place on the world stage. For this to happen, her people need to become more confident and take greater pride in their cultural and spiritual roots. We have to harness our spiritual values to fight terrorism and other social evils and to prevent our young minds from turning to violence. The issue of Naxalism has to be addressed at its roots and the misguided youth should be brought back to the mainstream. We have to remain open to learning and innovation, rather than simply imitating Western consumer and material values.
Today, we need to take steps towards:
1. Providing Job-oriented education.
2. Eradicating politics of corruption and malpractice.
3. Encouraging the educated and the youth to take interest in social development.
4. Attending to the agricultural sector. While industry has flourished, agriculture has been totally neglected.
5. Improving basic hygiene,
6. Preventing female infanticide and
7. Ensuring judicial use of water resources.
As the population continues to grow, solutions to these problems are still a long way away. The wisdom, which was India’s glory, has been almost forgotten and needs to be revived.
We should work for an India where there is no place for violence and terror, the poor have both relief and justice, the middle class is free from fear and frustration and is able to dream and to dare, and the affluent take social responsibility and uphold human values. Let us hope for an India which is able to take the best of its wisdom and traditions into the 21st century, both for the benefit of ourselves and for the whole world family.
~ Sri Sri Ravi Shankar