Thursday, July 1, 2010

Ravindra RaoIndia perhaps has the highest number of TV news channels in the world! It is a tribute to the Indian democracy that our news channels can expose corruption and misdeeds of our leadership fearlessly. It is also remarkable that as one scam is barely exposed, the next one – even bigger – is waiting in the wings. These exposés clearly had no effect in reducing the rot, as admitted by a director of a popular multi channel TV.

Yet the negative news seems exciting and draws viewers. They detest what they see, yet watch and turn cynical and helpless. Of course it is a journalist’s job to unearth and present truth. It is exciting to report and you believe it will deter a prospective wrong doer. The channels oblige; for viewers love it, or so they think –never mind if it generates more cynicism.

This issue of Disha brings you a flavour of some really exciting positive stories that take place through Asia Plateau, the Initiatives of Change (IofC) International Centre at Panchgani, Maharashtra.

When a huge world-wide scam broke out at Siemens, it was big news. Many thought the multinational giant would go the Enron way. But Siemens did a remarkable turnaround by putting ethics at the top of the agenda again! The Indian head of the giant MNC told the story to an international conference at Asia Plateau. Our lead article starts with a peep into this and goes on to talk about some recent initiatives which have the potential to change the atmosphere and situations in the country.

Dr. Frank Buchman, the initiator of IofC (MRA as it was then known) brought a 200 strong group of international IofC leaders, artists and other volunteers to India in 1952 at the invitation of leading citizens. The incredible story of that six-month-long tour of South Asia with three theatrical productions and a huge cache of stage equipment bringing to the subcontinent a message of healing and bridge building is lucidly recounted by Michael Henderson in his recent book, ‘Ice in Every Carriage’. Excerpts from Rajmohan Gandhi’s forward and a British magazine’s review of the book appear in the issue. Even today after 60 years of progress in transport and communication, such an operation would be a nightmare to conduct. Buchman’s faith, vision and dare in undertaking the impossible, sowed the seeds of what IofC has now come to be in India with all the positive initiatives it has been inspiring through Asia Plateau and in many parts of the country.

‘Starting with oneself’ instead of getting frustrated with the wrongs in others, is the key. The ‘Inner Voice’ which Gandhi made his daily guide and Guru in all he did is at the heart of IofC. It is wisdom available to all who care to listen to their heart. If you believe in God, this could be the way He is trying to tell you how to follow His will! If you don’t, it could just be a ‘compass’ showing the way to act in the interest of ALL. The accounts you read in the following pages are all inspired by that ‘still mall voice within’. Perhaps it can replace cynicism with hope!