Write articles for 'GatewayforIndia' and earn


 (By- Swami Sunirmalananda)

Indian Success Story

India 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 India 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 India . From slaves to masters—we are seeing a glorious change now.

Why did India suffer? India hid her spiritual knowledge from the world for the last two millennia and so she suffered privations. Again, when knowledge was hidden within some pockets in India , 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, India , and conquer the world with your spirituality!’ (Complete Works, Vol. 3, p. 284). And now, India is all set to conquer the world. You cannot imagine the interest the world is showing in India and Indian things. Especially in developing nations like Brazil , 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 Brazil alone. Then there is a mad rush for yoga in the United States , United Kingdom , and so on. But in India ? 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 India . While India struggled under the yoke of slavery, he alone said that India has a bright future. When no one hoped that India would ever be rich and great, Vivekananda alone said India would once again sit on the throne. He struggled in cold and hunger, poverty and misery—so that India 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.

Root-and Branch Reform

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 India 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 India 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. And today, India is about to sit at the top of the world. A century ago, Swami Vivekananda had prophesied that ‘ India 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 India , 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 India .’ (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, India 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 Class

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 river.

Who is responsible for such a debacle? It’s the bureaucracy. A corrupt bureaucracy and ruling class can lead India to perpetual famine, slavery, and distress, in spite of all the wealth we may possess. Politicians thrive on keeping India poor and underdeveloped. They want to keep India quarrelling over religions. They want to keep India a distressed nation. This is what is happening today.

What’s needed now is proper administration. We need administrators who are true lovers of India , 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.

The 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 India 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.

India 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. India 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 India .

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 Mission ; etc.

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 India .’ 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 India ? Vivekananda’s India is one, which is eternal India —the India 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.