Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ravindra Rao (Photo: Karen Elliott Greisdorf)Ancient or resurgent, in India, extremes co-exist, mostly peacefully, but of late patience appears to be running out!

The national flag, the emblem with the motto, “Satyameva Jayate” and other symbols from our rich heritage should inspire us to oneness as people and greatness as a nation as Arun Wakhlu says in the lead article (page…)

Experts predict a bright future, catapulting us to the top economic ranks in a decade or two. Yet our human development index remains one of the lowest in the world. The country is getting rich but countless remain poor and, thanks to globalisation, the gulf is widening ever faster!

Extremists whose sincerity even is becoming suspect exploit the plight of the poor. On the one hand the Government has innovative schemes for removing poverty, even if they are rendered ineffective by poor governance and the much media-bombarded corruption. Yet the insensitivity of the high priests of progress uproots traditional inhabitants when land is acquired for ‘development’ and their life styles and cultures are ruined.

Luckily there is another side to the coin: a growing stream of dedicated young people, many NRIs, fired by a spirit of meaningful service are scouting around the country to understand the real needs of the deprived and striving to do their best with compassion and sensitivity to bring in a brand of development that makes sense to the weakest and lifts them out of their miseries without destroying the good in their traditions. They are well educated, capable, are not deprived, yet ready to adopt a frugal life-style just like those they hope to help and amongst whom they make their homes.

There are also a growing number of government officials who are using their power and position to do effective work, bringing in good governance. A young IAS (Indian Administrative Service) officer writes about a successful attempt to counter Left Wing Extremism in a region of Andhra Pradesh (Page...). A young and dynamic lady official from Jharkhand presented a similar story at a recent programme for IAS officers at Asia Plateau.

The last issue of Disha carried the story of a banker who went beyond the call of duty to help thousands who had little hope of getting out of poverty by creating caring communities through Self Help Groups in Tamil Nadu. His story, captured in a 12-minute movie, ‘Banking on Change’, attracted within days, 46,000 views on YouTube and ‘Vimeo’! The comments show how people are inspired to think of returning to India to help it develop.

Some are hungry for food, which progress can give; but all are hungry for something deeper than what is promised by the development we pursue with such vigour. A development model which benefits only a section while millions still go hungry does not satisfy even the ones who get rich. For only in the welfare of all lies true happiness of all, because the deepest need of all humans is to love totally, unconditionally and without exclusions. Any steps we take in life towards making this a reality can fill the empty hearts of those who have all else that ‘development’ can give as it fills the empty bellies of the billions.

Ravindra Rao