Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Little drops of water….

This is the continuation of my earlier article "Color Color What Color?" I got varied response from my readers/friends. Key points were (for and against) about why did we fail, are/were we really better than the western world . While I accept that these are good questions, I do not want to speculate on how India would have fared if Brits did not rule us and Moguls did not invade us. Neither do I want to prove that Indian philosophy was/is better than western philosophy nor it is flawless. We definitely had dilutions of the concepts and several misconceptions. Though I have talked about the individualistic nature of three gunas, I want my readers to recognize the fact that we do have proverbs like "குலத்தளவே ஆகுமாம் குணம்" (The general disposition of a person reflects his caste/breed) and we are not all that pure as we wish to believe!!!

I do not agree fully with the "glory of India" mail (which made several rounds in the past and mentioned by a couple of you) that claims that India did not invade any other country!! Rajendra Chola invaded far east countries and established several Shiva temples. Cholas invading Pandiyas and Pandiyas killing Cheras etc. were there always. There are evidences of these wars and killings in literature, excavations, stone inscriptions etc. Let us not glorify ourselves too much!!!

So, what is my intention behind the article? What do I want? I want us to think about ways to make this country a better place to live. If countries that are covered with snow most part of the year or that do not see even one centimetre rainfall in a year could do better in providing safe shelter, food and better quality of life to the citizens, how can a country that enjoys sun all through the year, decent rainfall, and has 110 billion people (of supposedly intelligent race) not have any of these?

My question is not to some unknown "they"! It is to you and me!! What are you going to do as an individual? I am not interested in justifications and excuses. You do not even have to feel patriotic! (BTW, patriotism is not same as supporting Indian cricket team!!) This country has invested in you by giving you the food, water, shelter and education. What are you going to return? Indian government spends a lot on giving you safety - think of Army, Air force, Navy, Border Security Forces, Police and all the scientist community working in ISRO, DRDO and the like. Though per student spend may be less than that of other countries, there is considerable amount of money spent on your education by the government. It is just that we recognize only the fees we pay. How are you going to repay this debt? Just paying tax is not enough!

OK, you do not want to treat it as a business deal and you think, as son/daughter of this country, you are entitled to get these from the country. You may argue that water only goes from the lake to the paddy field and not vice versa. Even going with that argument, you are the lake for the next generation - your own sons and daughters!! What are you giving them? Hmm, ok, you do not have to think about next generation too! Don’t you want to live in a better place? Won't you clean the house you live in or you own (if you are not living in this country)? You may argue, one person's contribution alone will not change the large nation! சிறு துளி பெருவெள்ளம்!!! Little drops of water make the mighty ocean!!!

What is your action plan? With due respect to all the CSR activities where one spends a couple of days in a year at a school or a hospital or an orphanage, I am challenging you - is that sufficient? In the relay race of life, if you think that India was put in a disadvantageous position by all the invasions, don’t you also agree that we need to cover more distance in the same time to make it to the winning post?  And aren't we, the current generation Indians, the ones to run faster with the baton to make this country win?

We don’t have to be better than other countries - we just have to be a great country to be in. What are YOU going to do to make it happen?


Vive Kumar said...

Self growth, localized compassion, and security are key foci for any developing society of any size.

Consider the households in the bipedal caveman era where people needed to compete against other households or caveholds. Then came villages against villages, countries against countries, and presently continents against continents. I use the word 'against' intentionally to bring out the notion that 'geographic competition' is the key driving force behind the need of growth, compassion, and security, and other similar traits if you can identify them.

Given that we have a single planet and that the resources by and large are not renewable, we as a society, irrespective of the size and shape of it, must compete, to use these resources if readily available, bargain to access them or fight to acquire them.

Competition is the mother of innovation as well as the key to the inevitable demise of a society. We should strive to replace competition with sustainable intelligent use of resources tied with the growth of humanity.

May be 100 years from now, there may not be countries. All world could be one. With population control, governance would be focussed more on distribution of resources to societies that contribute more to humanity's growth.

Awareness of self worth and individual's contribution to the society's growth and sustainability would be controlled by machines and not by biased humans - this is needed because growth in intelligence is tied closely to being devious, and a machine can be desined to be non-devious, thus more trustworthy than a fellow human being - alas!

Working towards the betterment of lesser societies in competition with other societies (with snow, without rain, with intellectuals, and so on) has not resulted in a positive direction for the development of human kind. This approach has resulted in hightened competition that seeminly has brought the world to the brink of self-inflicted extinction. So, this pathway must be reviewed and an alternative one must be pursued.

What is this alterative pathway? What can we do to make a society a better place to live? Well, one pathway is, working towards a one world notion, consciously replacing the notion of meaningless competition with meaningful sustainability challenges, replacing/revising philosophies to adhere to a common vision for the planet and not for a lesser society, and engaging all human beings to their full capacity in this truly humongous planetwide effort.

When will this happen, if at all it happens? Don't know. Can humans really be turned around to get this done? Hopefully. Can we do something at this time and place towards this vision? Yes, we can. Think about it; spread the word; debate it; explore it; and finally educate it, one way or the other.

- Suresh

Geetha Justin said...

Thank you for the detailed feedback Suresh.

Sure, countries may go away eventually, like how we do not have Chola kingdom, Pandiya kingdom etc. and call it just India. Even if the countries continue to exist, there is no need to compete. We just have to be good at what we do. My reference to the countries with snow and less rainfall etc. is only to highlight the fact that if life could be made better at these adverse conditions, why can't we do it in more conducive conditions like supporting climatic conditions. I do not mean that we need to compete with such countries!! I believe, one of the reasons why India is struggling today is due to the undue competitive attitude and winning at all costs, as I have mentioned in the earlier article "Color Color What Color"!

As you rightly put, being trustworthy is one of the points for us to strive for. How can you be trustworthy? Being consistent in thoughts, speech and deeds, knowing what to commit to and delivering as committed consistently are possibly some parameters we could think of. If we think deeply/carefully, all these qualities apply irrespective of whether there are countries or not. Sure, machines can be programmed to behave consistently; In spite of the potential to have defects etc. machines could be better consistent. But then, if humans do not become trustworthy, they can screw-up themselves and others. What are we going to do to fix this? Before we could make / teach others to be trustworthy, the first thing we could do is being trustworthy ourselves, trust the system to change and work towards changing the system in the right way.

Making the resources renewable and sustainable definitely needs each one of us to come out of the "competitive and winning at all cost" nature. If not, we would try to store it for ourselves, by deceiving others. I do not mean we need to be altruistic; we just have to be fair and be intelligent enough not to be deceived by others.

My article is an invite to all to be the change you want to see. Sure, it is humongous! It may not happen in our lifetime! But then, it is worth trying. It is not that, my fellow Indians do not recognize this issue and this is not the first time this topic is being discussed. In most of the dinner meets, coffee chats, this is one of the topics! But then, the discussion is forgotten the next day or next hour. I want us to break away from that! Enough of lip service by the paper tigers :-)! What we need today is action - however small it is! I am sure it would become big eventually and produce the results. I do not want to be another "Gnani" who would only keep cribbing that things are not OK.