By His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
To me, India is empowered when at least 80 per cent of its people are empowered. As most of India’s population live in rural areas, just a few urbanites being empowered will be unfortunate for this country.
India will be truly empowered when people at the grassroots start feeling confident about themselves, their way of life, their tradition and their language. A Frenchman is proud of being French or speaking French, but here in India for a Kannadiga, Telugu, Maharashtrian or Tamilian, pride depends on how well versed he or she is in English or any other foreign language. Their pride is in eating pizzas, owning branded jeans and shoes, and the foreign trips they make.
There is nothing wrong in adopting good things from other cultures. The problem is, creativity and entrepreneurship dies out completely when you don’t take pride in your own culture and lose self esteem. Wherever there is high self esteem, creativity has been proportionately high. You can see this everywhere in the world.
Empowerment means the courage to confront and willingness to co-operate. Activists resort to a confrontationist stance in most situations. Our youth must know how to co-operate and confront simultaneously. Getting stuck in predetermined positions will keep us from exploring newer possibilities.
The most effective yardstick of empowerment is the willingness of people to take responsibility. We need to move away from the blame culture. Instead of blaming the elected government, religious leaders, police and even the weather, people need to take responsibility for creating not just a prosperous but a happy society as well. Many societies in the world are prosperous, but they are miserable to the core. To me, India empowered means a crime-free, humane society.
A renewed focus on the core areas of strength will make India realise its true potential. India has the best of tourism which needs to be exploited. From the snow-clad Himalayas to the beaches and backwaters of Kerala and temples of Tamil Nadu, India offers a diverse array of destinations that can rarely be matched by any other place in the world.
India has some of the best scientific minds, most of which is youth power. In the field of science and technology, India can match the best in the world.
The ancient Indian knowledge of yoga is a rage all over the world. In the US alone, yoga is a US$27-billion industry. We need to revive and take pride in the profound and vast knowledge of yoga and meditation practices.
From Kashmir to Kanyakumari, India is bestowed with a rich lore of spiritual literature and philosophy, be it the Kashmir Shaivism of Vigyan Bhairav, Shiv Sutras, Ras Hriday Tantras or the Tamil scriptures such as Thirukural. There are, in fact, several thousands of manuscripts and palm leaf scripts which have not even been decoded yet. Thanks to the endeavour of University of Tubingen and Hamburg in Germany, many rare and old manuscripts are being preserved and digitalised.
Ayurveda has the potential to make India a leader in holistic healthcare. The largest variety of flora and fauna are available here. With Ayurveda becoming increasingly popular, India needs to measure up to the global competition and use its inherent strengths before it’s too late.
India should be proud of its diverse cuisines, dance and music, rich textiles, embroidery, jewellery and embellishments, which have been widely appreciated all over the world.
Like the story of the beggar who spent all his life in poverty unaware of the precious treasure hidden beneath his hut, India is sitting on a huge pile of wealth, not knowing its worth. The real empowerment will happen when people of India realise that they have the power to change.