By Vijay Phanshikar :
Does India deserve the honour of owning the century? ‘The Hitavada’ Editor Vijay Phanshikar elaborates how the ideology could become true. With the ever-growing economic and military prowesses, India may not be able to have the current century named after itself if its own house is not in order. For, in the wisdom of ancient India, all progress, all growth, all material wealth cannot make for happiness if there is an unhappy home. The idea of sacrificing for sharing, proposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi quoting Ishvasya Upanishada, will need a serious and sincere implementation at home as well, so that we create a fragrant home for ourselves. That fragrance will, then, spread out into the world. India’s growing economic prowess, military, diplomatic and scientific achievements will assume a different and rare glow only if India’s Happiness Index, too, rises sky-high. And that will make the actual difference. That will make India deserve the honour of owning the century.
Of course, India does not need a Jeff Bezos, the founder boss of global online retail giant ‘Amazon’, to say that the 21st century would be India’s Century. That is a given, given the promise India has created for herself in the past some time, Jeff Bezos or no Jeff Bezos. There is no doubt that the current century will be known as India’s Century, thanks to multitude and multiple of promises on all counts, in all fields. But people like Jeff Bezos have only one way of looking at things -- commerce. So, Bezos talks of how Amazon is planning to export Indian goods worth a billion US dollars in the next five years.) Then he gets a rebuff -- from no less a person than Union Minister Piyush Goyal -- for his rather undesirable financial handlings in Indian part of his business).
After the rebuff, Jeff Bezos makes another statement -- his company is going to create as many as a million jobs in the next five years in India. In sure terms, people like Jeff Bezos and also those who treat him as a business idol, think only in commercial terms. Never do they realise that there could be other parameters, too, by which to measure the success of India -- or her failure -- as a country to dominate the global scene. In fact, the commercial parameter is the simplest of all counts. By dint of planned work, India is most likely to become a 5 trillion-US-dollar economy in the next ten years. And that quantum jump will qualify India as perhaps the most dominant economy in the world in the next few years. Will that alone suggest that the current century will belong to India?
One wonders! There is no doubt that India has made a massive global surge forward in the past some years on many parameters. The past five years have also seen a massive diplomatic forward thrust by India led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. One of the positive aspects of India’s handling of external affairs is the smart use of economic and military capabilities for leveraging certain benefits. In step with that policy, Prime Minister moves around the world, offers help to those countries by way of line-of-credit, by way of technological assistance, by way of strategic pacts, defence acquisition deals. India builds a temple here, a parliament building there, a commercial sea port elsewhere, roads, hospitals, schools in countless places. And as India does all this, the diaspora cheers the Prime Minister lustily. The mind-boggling numbers of diaspora settled almost in every country around the globe has made the Indian community a dominant socio-political and economic force everywhere, the evidence of which came most candidly during Prime Minister Modi’s rallies in several countries.
So major does Modi’s voice become that United States President Donald Trump seeks his help in launching his unofficial re-election campaign at the Howdy Modi rally in Houston. That rally also showcases Modi as a master-campaigner for India and for India’s friends. India’s progress in the sciences has been one of a absolutely spectacular nature. Chandrayaan, Mangalyaan, and now Gaganyaan are making headlines the world over. Indians’ innovation, imagination, intelligence of a proven superior variety are making all the difference wherever Indians are present, in any field. In the world of the corporates, one after another companies are being headed by Indian smarties.
And of course, a peep into the world’s sporting arenas reveals how Indians are surging forward, winning medals, world championships, giving the world’s best sportspersons a real scare. India’s music maestros, movie icons. dance exponents et al have made an impact that people from few other countries have been able to make. Rarely is there a field in which the Indians have not done well, surprising the world, shocking the competitors, giving a complex of being inferior to the numero unos everywhere. No wonder then a proud Narendra Modi makes an assertion at every place he addresses Indian audiences that he is talking to the best people he could find in the world.
Thunderous claps and lusty cheers and ‘Modi, Modi’ chants fill the air and spread India’s fragrance everywhere. Without doubt, Jeff Bezos or no Jeff Bezos to make a prediction, India has emerged as a major global player in the past some years. But when a Jeff Bezos says that, the Indians feel happy, proud that their country’s presence is being marked as a global force -- India’s Century! -- they say. Let’s go back to that moment in time when the outside temperature had dipped to minus 56 degrees and Prime Minister Narendra Modi stood in front of the most exclusive audience of several dozen world leaders -- Presidents, Prime Ministers, monarchs, business leaders, thought-leaders at the World Economic Forum at the Alpine Resort town of Davos in Switzerland and told them with a rare confidence about what India stood for. In effect he said, ‘You loved the idea of globalisation and went for it fully. You dominated the global markets for a while and amassed wealth for your countries.
Then the tide turned and things became harder. Now, you are questioning yourselves if globalisation is the best policy and it requires some mitigation. In India, we have no problem with globalisation because our ancient culture is steeped in that thought, in that ideology, in that philosophy -- of sharing. We believe that God has given us everything not for cornering but for sharing with others. Our Upanishadas say Ishavasyaam Idam Sarvam (Everything belongs to God), Yatkincha Jagatyaam Jagat (Things small and big), Tena Tyaktena Bhunjitha ... (So we sacrifice for sharing ...) ...’! The Prime Minister’s assertion had a support of history -- for it was September 11, 1893 that Swami Vivekananda stood on the platform of the World’s Parliament of Religions and talked of vedantic wisdom that the world found so charming, so cheering, so energising, so accommodative. In fact, India’s Century should have begun on that day a little over 125 years ago in Chicago. That did not happen because we were under the alien rule -- we convinced ourselves. Then came that stroke of midnight hour when India woke to freedom, as Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru said in his famed ‘Tryst With Destiny’ speech.
That was the moment of India’s looking forward to good times, great times. But that did not happen. Actually instead of looking forward, India started looking down -- not inward! It created a socio-political narrative that almost appeared like a suicide note. Each coming day, we the Indians -- the sovereigns of the land -- were almost withdrawing from the global contest for excellence, despite our talent, despite our superior intelligence, and despite our political tall talk. None of us ever thought of any Century that would belong ever to India. That situation has, of course, changed a great deal now, so much so that not just a Jeff Bezos but countless others in India and elsewhere are willing to lay a bet that India would own the current century. But let us pause for a moment and ponder at this point.
Let us ask ourselves the simple question -- Will India really dominate the current century and have it named as India’s Century? What should be the parameters that would make is eligible for such sublime epithet only on the strength of economic prowess? For, at the moment, what seems to count is India’s economic surge forward. And that is where the real question raises its head: What would India need to make this century its own? Let us shift our focus inward. No matter the ever-growing economic and military prowesses, India may not be able to have the current century named after itself if its own house is not in order. For, in the wisdom of ancient India, all progress, all growth, all material wealth cannot make for happiness if there is an unhappy home. The idea of sacrificing for sharing, proposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi quoting Ishvasya Upanishada, will need a serious and sincere implementation at home as well, so that we create a fragrant home for ourselves.
That fragrance will, then, spread out into the world. India’s growing economic prowess, military, diplomatic and scientific achievements will assume a different and rare glow only if India’s Happiness Index, too, rises sky-high. And that will make the actual difference. That will make India deserve the honour of owning the century. A prosperous India, a strong India, and a happy India will have the necessary attributes that would make it own the century. India’s Century! -- we will be able to say with so much of assertion in our tone and tenor. Of course, the seed of that success is in the idea of India that existed several thousand years ago -- in the vedantic wisdom. And this is not looking back in time and getting frozen in memories of the past.
Much to the contrary, this is looking for something that the world does not have and we have -- as asserted so wonderfully and successfully by Swami Vivekananda. When we resort to utilising that wisdom carefully and fully, we will earn and deserve the right to called the masters of the Century. That will, then, be India’s Century -- truly!!! n