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is one of the fastest developing countries of the world today. Though some
people want to always superimpose a negative self-image on Indians, saying
that we are poor, helpless, beggars, and so on, no one can deny the progress
is making in every field. But this progress hasn’t come without sacrifice.
Numerous leaders have striven towards this end. The blood that has been
spilled on this sacred land for the good of the nation has been immense. It
is necessary that we remember those great men and women with reverence who,
by their ultimate sacrifice, brought about such a change in
. From slaves to masters—we are seeing a glorious change now.
hid her spiritual knowledge from the world for the last two millennia and so
she suffered privations. Again, when knowledge was hidden within some
, her masses suffered. We spoke of Advaita, of oneness, etc, yet we
practiced the most degraded form of dissension here. After Vivekananda came,
we began to broaden, and the result is that within a century we are
progressing fast. Vivekananda pointed out that we are suffering because we
closed our doors. ‘Give and take is the law,’ he declared. It is only by
working for others that we can uplift ourselves. ‘This is the great ideal
before us, and every one must be ready for it—the conquest of the whole
world by India—nothing less than that, and we must all get ready for it,
strain every nerve for it. Let foreigners come and flood the land with their
armies, never mind. Up,
, and conquer the world with your spirituality!’ (Complete Works,
Vol. 3, p. 284). And now,
is all set to conquer the world. You cannot imagine the interest the world
is showing in
and Indian things. Especially in developing nations like
, where I am, the desire to learn Indian religion, yoga, dance, music,
cuisine, and so on is terrible. You can safely say that there are at least
500 yoga schools in
alone. Then there is a mad rush for yoga in the
, and so on. But in
? We hate ourselves. We decry our religion. We hate our religion and want to
imitate western dress, drink, and disposition. They, on the contrary, want
to shrug their bad habits off.
Swami Vivekananda was one of the greatest
leaders of pre-independence days to have a positive view of
struggled under the yoke of slavery, he alone said that
has a bright future. When no one hoped that
would ever be rich and great, Vivekananda alone said
would once again sit on the throne. He struggled in cold and hunger, poverty
and misery—so that
could stand on her own feet again, the masses be awakened, and the glorious
Vedantic message of his country could reach the whole world. While most
other reformers and leaders sought to solve national problems through
superficial means, Swamiji affected the ‘root-and-branch’ reform, as he
called it. National leaders like Gandhiji, Nehru, Patel, Netaji said that
their inspiration was Swamiji.
Swamiji’s root-and-branch reform consisted in
considering the nation as a whole. Vivekananda’s approach to life was not
piecemeal; he considered all the three: the body, mind and Self. More
essentially, he considered the Atman or Self, because he knew that once the
Atman is awakened, all power, all glory and all success were sure to come.
This Atman, again, was the key to oneness and unity. Human oneness and
equality can never be achieved at the bodily level or the mental level. It
is only at the level of the Self or Atman that oneness can be achieved.
How could Swami Vivekananda understand the
problem? Swamiji was the prophet and so he knew this secret.
He went to the root of everything, and thus became the greatest reformer
ever produced. His teaching is simple. His important teaching, which is an
echo of the Vedanta, is that ‘Each soul is potentially divine. The goal is
to manifest this Divinity within by controlling nature, external and
internal. Do this either by work, or worship, or psychic control, or
philosophy--by one, or more, or all of these—and be free. This is the whole
of religion. Doctrines, or dogmas, or rituals, or books, or temples, or
forms, are but secondary details.’ (Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda,
Vol.1, p. 132).
Our nation has tremendous potential within.
Nations, like people, are trichotomous too. They too have the body, the
mind, and the Self. Indian mind is the religious mind. Indian Spirit is the
religious Spirit. So
has tremendous potential. Its constituents, we the people, too have
tremendous potential within, waiting to be brought forth. For a thousand
years we were told we were nothing. We were humiliated and tortured. So we
had forgotten that we had innate potential. Swami Vivekananda reminded us of
that potential. Once we got freedom, we began to manifest that potential.
is about to sit at the top of the world. A century ago, Swami Vivekananda
had prophesied that ‘
will be raised, not with the power of the flesh, but with the power of the
spirit….’ And that is happening now. When everyone criticized religion,
Vivekananda said: ‘Here in
, it is religion that forms the very core of the national heart. It is the
backbone, the bed-rock, the foundation upon which the national edifice has
been built. Politics, power, and even intellect form a secondary
consideration here. Religion, therefore, is the one consideration in
.’ (Complete Works, Vol. 3, p. 208).
Fools Decry Religion
Even though fools decry religion because they
can’t understand a word of it, and they confuse religion for politics,
religion is helping us rise up once again. By religion, the ideal of the
Spirit is meant. True to Vivekananda’s words,
has awakened once again. She is thriving today, with her scientists,
engineers, farmers, and others contributing abundantly to her glory. She is
becoming a world leader in IT, while in science, art, culture, economics,
and other fields she is an international success. From being a ‘beggar’ in
the 1960s, when we had to beg for food, to being the producers of at least
200 million metric tons of rice each year now, India has come a long way.
Our intellect is set to conquer the different nations of the world, as
Indians are leading in many institutions the world over.
The Problem of the Ruling
However, our progress doesn’t seem to affect
the masses. Prof Amartya Sen and Jean Dreze comment: ‘Despite “local booms”
in a particular range of high-skill industries, the overall growth rate of
the Indian economy and that for the industrial sector as a whole are still
rather low. … Inequality in basic education thus translates into
inefficiency as well as further inequality in the use of new economic
opportunities.’[see Amartya Sen and Jean Dreze, India: Economic
Development and Social Opportunity in The Amartya Sen & Jean Dreze
Omnibus (London: Oxford University Press, 1999), pp. 39-40].
Just as oil flows under the Arab’s feet,
fertile soil sleeps under the Indian’s feet. While the Arab rules the world
using his oil resources, Indians don’t know how to tap our rich soil
resources: or we didn’t know until now. We have food, we have intelligence,
yet we are poor. Why? Because distribution is improper. Wealth and food, if
accumulated at some points, don’t help anyone. They should flow like the
Who is responsible for such a debacle? It’s the
bureaucracy. A corrupt bureaucracy and ruling class can lead
to perpetual famine, slavery, and distress, in spite of all the wealth we
may possess. Politicians thrive on keeping
poor and underdeveloped. They want to keep
quarrelling over religions. They want to keep
a distressed nation. This is what is happening today.
What’s needed now is proper administration. We
need administrators who are true lovers of
, and are not greedy vacuum cleaners, who can suck everything into their
stomachs. A nation famed for its moral and spiritual virtues is ashamed that
she has a so many corrupt officials. There are a few great leaders, no
doubt, but many more are the urgent need.
Administrators We Need Now
What is the nature of leaders we need today?
Peter Drucker, the guru of management, says in his famous book, Managing
the Non-profit Organization, that there are ‘simply no ‘leadership
traits’ or ‘leadership characteristics.’ He says that leaders are not born
or made, they are self-made. The foremost quality of leaders should be
self-sacrifice. ‘The leaders who work most effectively, it seems to me,
never say “I”. And that’s not because they have trained themselves not to
say “I.” They don’t think “I.”’ (Peter Drucker, Managing the
Non-Profit Organization, pp. 184-5).
Once Swami Vivekananda asked a certain General
Strong as to why
was defeated during the sepoy mutiny. General Strong replied that their
leaders, instead of advancing forward, only kept shouting from a safe
position in the rear, “Fight on, brave lads,” and so forth. They did not
fight from the forefront. So Swamiji adds: ‘It is the same in every branch.
“A captain must sacrifice his head,” they say. If you can lay down your life
for a cause, then only you can be a leader.’ Such leaders are needed now.
has been rowing an anchored boat because a few boatmen are weak. Strong and
weak administrators are worlds apart. Weak administrators are power-hungry,
self-conscious, punishers of the good and slaves of the wicked, listeners of
their sycophants’ songs, scared of uprising, and they don’t update
themselves with the current trends and developments.
Readers’ Digest (January 1995) carried a
beautiful article by Benjamin Stein, titled ‘Seven Mistakes Winners Don’t
Make’. Benjamin was the American President’s speechwriter for some time. He
says that leaders fail because of: (a) delusional thinking (being dishonest
to oneself); (b) not being productive; (c) punishing friends; (d) bad
manners; (e) bad attitudes (always pessimistic in outlook); (f) needless
arguing (considering unimportant matters most important and leaving aside
important ones); (g) putting last things first. These are the qualities of
those who fail.
too can fail, if her people do not give up the habit of not producing what
is good for the world, punish friends, and encourage bad manners. The fourth
great disease—a pessimistic outlook of life—should be given up by
Peter Drucker has set some hallmarks of an
efficient administrator (culled from his bestseller, Managing the
Non-Profit Organization). They are: 1. Accountability; 2. Delegation of
Authority; 3. Commitment; 4. Conflict Resolution; 5. Setting up Standards of
Excellence; 6. Playing Inspirational Role; 7. Crisis Anticipation; 8.
Acceptance and Rectification of Mistakes; 9. Orientation Towards the Future
10. Planning; 11. Risk-taking; 12.Teaching; and 13. The Sense of
If Indian authorities develop some of these
qualities and try to rise above personal and political ambitions, India
could be transformed, and it would soon rule the world—‘not with the power
of the flesh, but with the power of the spirit.’
When Swami Vivekananda was asked what service
he liked most, he had said: ‘Love
.’ That is the lesson for all of us.
Let us give up self-hatred and begin loving our
nation. Then there will be tremendous growth. Let us see how the world is
moving ahead. Let us give up this love for uncleanliness (dirty cities,
polluted water, etc), and love growth. Let us be positive in outlook. Then
no one can stop us from progressing.
Finally, what is Vivekananda’s
is one, which is eternal
of sacrifices and renunciation. We must give up our little ambitions and
petty selfishness for the good of the nation. In trains, in buses, in the
streets, in offices—everywhere there is ample opportunity for giving up our
little selves and serving others—which is nothing but our nation. Let’s do
this for our own good.