February 11, 2005


Where do you see yourself in the next ten years? Our direction, our choices and our success have as much of a bearing on where we aspire to be as where we are from. The connection to our heritage is a powerful one and it is this that fills a void in understanding who we are. At the heart of this lies an identity, a connection with our homeland, a bond that has a limitless capacity to share and develop. Our love for India and its people provides the fuel, our skills suggest an ability; but how can we now fuse these in such a way as to serve our country, and in turn to develop ourselves?

There is a beautiful richness of culture, a deep and sacred spirituality that we can learn so much from. The identity we seek will never be found in the midst of the glitzy wedding crowd, nor will it be found in the hyper shopping streets of Mumbai, nor even in the Bollywood bazaar. Our identity is intrinsically linked with the people of the real India, the people that make India, the people that are India. It isn't just something that we will learn from them, but the meaning of all things beautiful: an unconditional love from untouched lives.

When I sit in a rickshaw and drive past the most spectacular buildings, then come across the most heart-pulling children asking for some money; when I eat in an air-conditioned restaurant, then look at the poor, scraping through the rubbish for food; when I know that I waste water, and yet there is a lack of clean water in India; that's when a question arises, a question that must have crossed your mind: can I make a difference?

The skills that we have, we can use to change and cure many things. Given the opportunity, we can become great leaders through a dual service, participating in an improvement of their lifestyles and a development of our lives. Let's give back to India what India has given us. Let's resuscitate an inherited identity.

Being versus Doing

"Being Po is what I'll be doing a year from now". Now, this phrase, one that I read in a book I read recently, struck me as somewhat nonchalant regarding one's future life, yet rather youthfully idealistic. When someone asks, "what will you be doing after uni?", my mouth automatically translates my confused and ever-churning brain, for which I require no responses, as I know that only I can make this decision. I guess there is a question of whether "being me" is what I'll be doing a year from now, or whether I'll be tagging along with that mind set of the separation of those two worlds: that of doing and the other of being me.

Essentially, being is something associated with our hearts, something that we love, that innately reflects our desires, our hobbies, our passions. Yet the question is whether this being will be translated into our calling, into what we think we should be doing. The real talent, many have told me, and I'm sure you'll agree, lies in turning our passion into our life, and letting that which we love also provide for us.

Yet are we strong enough to show to our own selves that we can prove to live up to our passions? Are we courageous enough to take a step that, if (God forbid!) not proven successful, will make us forever bitter toward that passion? Are we sure enough to dedicate ourselves fully and wholly to this cause, to our cause?

Often, we are surrounded by people driven by making money and exposed to scores of great success stories. Often, we are sub-consciously sucked in by these cultural pressures, making our conscious mind a slave to the high-powered world. And often, that makes us believe that the shoulds don't harmonise with the coulds. The question that we forget, that we are too scared to answer, sonorously repeats itself: Could we really do something we love?

I guess there are many of us who think that, if the money is great, then that's simply our day job. But does that not take away our most youthfully energetic, enthusiastic and spirited years, in which we have idealism, hopes and vision? It makes us shelve our passions for another day; and in essence, therefore, that ingredient that made me me has taken the back row, and I may have lost myself. If I do learn to take pleasure in my work, if I do enjoy going into work everyday, then bingo I've hit the nail on the head. But is it not better to be honest to ourselves from now, to invest some time in considering what it is that we are meant to be doing, what it is that we are best at, what it is that is us? We don't have to be moulded by our surroundings and circumstances. What we believe is where our faith lies; where our faith is, there rests conviction; it is this conviction that will carry us through, that will be our drive, that will make us act.

We can look back and say, "sometimes, the cookie just crumbles that way", but we could potentially say, "That cookie was meant to crumble that way".


*India: Leaping forward *

My taxi halts straitjacketed in a cobweb of vehicles. From every direction comes the sound of blasting Bollywood music drowned intensely by loud car horns.

The taxi window is occupied with an all too familiar sight: a child wearing torn clothes and his mother with a baby in one arm, stretching the other, pleadingly. They turn to me with more hope as, to them, I look different, if not foreign.

In the next car, the man sits completely oblivious to the boy trying to grab his attention with a magazine; on the other side, a woman rolls down the rear window of her car to buy strings of fresh flowers. The roads are flustered with street vendors and beggars, all intent on making the most of the peak-time standstill traffic at this busy junction.

In this organised chaos, my mind meanders off to the much publicised Indian revolution. Does it have the capacity to touch the lives of those 300 million poor, many of whom are below the poverty line? Will it matter to these beggars who roam the streets every day in their struggle for survival and relying upon the pity of the rich.

I wonder if they are aware of the leaps their country is taking, the boundaries she is crossing, and the reforms that are mightily propelling the land of their living forward. The rapid modernisation, or rather “McDonaldisation” has brought about a seemingly not so silent revolution with the entry of Pizza Express, Pizza Hut, Nike, Mango and Marks and Spencer.

At the same time, the skilled but relatively cheap Indian worker is seen to be pouncing at western jobs as foreign companies have come to realise the 40 percent cost savings they could make by outsourcing much of their white-collar work to India..

However, behind this economic powerhouse facade, lies the historic land of Buddha and Gandhi, the spiritual cave of the ancient scriptures, the soil made sacred by the feet of the great saints, enriched by centuries of heritage, the home to rich arts and monuments, the cradle of faith and the legacy of its traditions.

The fervent patriotism imbibed in the hearts of her people is intuitively connected to its colourful and vibrant history, stained yet shaped by Alexander the Great, the Moghuls and the British, upon whose departure, the people of a divided subcontinent endured the biggest and one of the ugliest migrations of human population that world had and probably ever will witness..

The modern face of India that is projected on the world stage, the bullish capitalist India that is making strides, and the energy and force with which it has arrived on the global scene seems to somehow be delinked from the spiritual base in which she lies. Yet, this is the wonder that India is: a living land of contradictions, simultaneously inhabiting many centuries, where many a woman still does not address her husband by his name through respect or tradition, where meditating saints are still hidden in the Himalayan caves and where girls still balance pots filled with water on their heads.

Alongside the global economic advances, the unity of India’s rich cultural ancestry pooled in diversity has also been discovered and is being projected on the international canvas. Through the toil and hard work of her each farmer, through the truthful dedication of her each citizen, through the effort and conviction of her each inhabitant has India stretched her arms, and the world awoken to her grasp.

Zooming back into my surroundings, now moving, albeit at a snail’s pace, a vegetable vendor pushing his cart is on a mobile phone. My taxi driver also carries a mobile phone. I realise how much India has changed, how wide the disparity of wealth is, the extent of polarisation of rural India and her urban cities and how many contradictions lie even within a city.

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  • Nice one. u may find answer in famous speech on link below http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hd_ptbiPoX… by on this entry
  • Best of luck with all of this. I am not in Warwick this year (on a year abroad in Germany) and yet h… by on this entry
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