In Conversation with the Mystic

What is transformational change and how does it factor into nation building?

Is a nation defined by its people, its military prowess or its economic might? Why is it that the very people who clamour for success, get intimidated when others are more successful and why do we fear change?

It was on these and other issues that the Sadhguru engaged in a broad ranging discussion with Mr Gopal Srinivasan and Mr Raju Venkataraman.

Let’s consider change and progress, a nation like ours cannot change for the better unless hard action and determined steps are taken. In the seven decades since our independence, change has happened and we have progressed – but has it really been in an upward trajectory? Evidence would suggest not – there have been several twists and turns.

As a nation, we can now boast of great advances in science and we have the ability to reach Mars. Yet, scores of people go hungry. If there are still people who sleep hungry, is that progress a nation can be proud of?

Sadhguru makes an astute observation, which goes to the heart of our collective psyche. Even a tea- stall owner, serving sub-par tea would have a vigorous opinion on how a nation should be run. People are quick to find fault with leaders trying to effect change, even though they would equally lament that no one is doing anything to improve the country. In an era of 24-hour news cycle, a minor election for a minor seat in one corner of the nation somehow becomes an indictment on the performance of the government nationally. This is neither accurate nor factual- but seems real.

But the government making a hard decision such as the move to demonetisation can be vilified and passed judgement on. Such decisions need to be taken. The move to bring the “economy above the ground” can be costly for the people bringing about change. There will be pain, but without the pain there cannot be gain for the generation that wants to create a nation of some substance for the future generations.

Do we want success? Or do we want to always be on the outside looking in, enviously at others who achieve it? Why is it that here in our country, we are quick to celebrate the fall from grace of a successful person, why do we look suspiciously at someone doing well?

As Sadhguru beautifully elucidates, if a few achieve a victory, the majority don’t rejoice. The assumption is that success cannot come without wrong doing. There is no allowance made for a person’s innate ability or hard work. However, if we build a nation of successful entrepreneurs, success will not be looked upon askance, we can all be successful together.

Success also does not need to depend on a family or a personality to continue to be successful. One of the biggest roadblocks to progress is often the incompetence with which we manage our institutions. As a nation if responsibility is bestowed purely on a person’s ability, success is assured.

Romanticising wild west notions of revolt and rising up against the establishment is yet another thorn on our sides. These remnants of our struggle for independence no longer have a place in modern India. Respect for law and regard for institutions that uphold them are what hold people accountable, an individual cannot be eulogised or held up as a beacon. The hangover of being enthralled by a heroic figure who fights establishment, rescues the common folk has past.

We often wonder how other people succeed, why other communities progress. Could it be that there is a collective thought? Is it enough to look after one’s own- me and mine? Or do we go beyond petty geographies and think of the whole.

So long as we are content to take care of our needs and those of our immediate people, we don’t have much to do with the institutions of nationhood. This is reflected in a large part of our population. The everyday entrepreneur who does not even know that not paying taxes is a crime? For him, he earns, he takes care of his needs, digs his own borewell in his house, fixes the road outside. He does not realise that it is the responsibility of the national institutions to take care of those needs and the taxes that we pay, pay for them.

As a people, if we begin by respecting the laws of the land, the institutions and demand they perform the way they are meant to, the nation will move ahead. We must contribute and we must demand action in return.

Holding a larger vision, of success of the collective can only be achieved when businesses realise that laws exist to keep us all grounded in an equal vision. Moral values may differ, the law is dispassionate and does swing with the season.

While the discussion touched on several issues- notion of dharmic values, ethical business and personalities and the media take on national matters. One thing came through strongly. Our success, our progress and nation building can only happen when we all evolve to a common humanity and a common respect.

The Sadhguru left us with a final thought, nation building is not for the weak willed or the naysayers or those that are swayed. But for us to carry on stoically through the tough decisions and persist with those with ability and the institutional belief to weather the storm.

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