Rebuilding India 2

Need for change in thinking  

India was known for her original thinking since the ancient periods. One of the basic factors that differentiated India from the rest of the world had been her unique thoughts. It is those thoughts that made India excel in diverse fields, enabled her to attain higher levels of prosperity, helped the nation to develop stable institutions and influenced her people to strive towards higher aspirations. 

Unfortunately the alien domination, especially under the British, made Indians lose their confidence in the native thoughts, systems and institutions. Moreover, Indians were made to believe in the superiority of the west. The education system introduced by them made Indians feel that the Indian traditions and systems are of no use. Swami Vivekananda underlined as to how their education system made the Indian child to hate his/her own family and backgrounds and lose their originality from a young age.

To quote: “The child is taken to school, and the first thing he learns is  that his father is a fool, the second thing that his grandfather is a lunatic, the third thing that all his teachers are hypocrites, the fourth, that all his sacred books are lies. By the time he is sixteen he is a mass of negation, lifeless and boneless. And the result is that fifty years of such education has not produced one original man in the three presidencies. .. We have learnt only weaknesses.” The systematic attempts by the Europeans at different levels made Indians lose their spirit at all levels. Durant noted in 1930: “The result is a pitiful crushing of the Hindu spirit, a stifling of its pride and growth, a stunting of genius that once flourished in every city of the land.”

Unfortunately, even after the country attained Independence there were no efforts to rekindle the original thinking process. With the result the dependent mentality continued. The ruling classes and the policy making circles took all possible steps to follow the western ideas and practices. After four more than decades of freedom, Dharampal noted: “The shock and manner of the British conquest and the prolonged terror which accompanied it had not only disrupted Indian society, its localities, the interrelation­ships between its numerous localities as well as extended kinship groups; but worse yet, made them dumb.”

He explained as to how with the breaking up of the local institutions and established systems, the educated Indians replaced the Europeans to implement the western practices and lord over the natives. To quote: “With the weakening of the locality structure and the interrela­tionships amongst localities which made them whole and func­tional, the interrelationship of the various extended kinship groups came under heavy pressure as well. Further, with the breakdown of Indian political and administrative institutions, men from the more scholarly and more literate groups allowed themselves to be co-opted into the system created by the British. Though their co-optation till the early 20th century was mainly to fill the subordinate positions in the governing and coercive apparatus, later they became the immediate instruments of terrorising their own people.”

Swami Vivekananda warned against the imitation of the western systems, well before the other thinkers took it up. In his comprehensive essay on Modern India in 1899, he noted: “On one side new India is saying, “If we only adopt Western ideas, Western language, Western food, Western dress and Western manners, we shall be as strong and powerful as the Western nations”, on the other old India is saying, “ Fools! By imitation, others’ ideas never become one’s own; nothing, unless earned, is your own. Does the ass in lion’s skin become the lion?” On one side new India is saying, “What the Western nations do is surely good, otherwise how did they become so great?” On the other side old India is saying,” The flash of lightning is intensely bright, but only for a moment look out, boys, it is dazzling your eyes. Beware.”

But in spite of the warnings from the noble minds, the Indian establishment has been following the west. We ape them not just for their economic and political ideas, but also in matters relating to society, family and culture. Even after more than six decades of independence, we have failed to realise that the nature and backgrounds of India and the western countries are different.

There is no use in aping them without any reason. We will not able to get the desired results unless we follow systems suited to our national ethos and practices. The rise of the Indian economy and business over these years reveal the strength of the Indian fundamentals. The functioning Indian methods and approaches are getting recognized at the global levels for their strengths. In fact the western experts advise their countries to follow the Indian methods.  After conducting studies on the leadership system at the corporate levels in India, Peter Cappelli and others note: “The success of the India Way is important in its own right, of course, as it is crucial to the economic and social health of what will soon be the world’s most populous country. It may turn out to be just as important as a model for countries elsewhere, not just those struggling to modernize but also those that are already economically developed.”

We have to understand that India has enormous strengths. This is the reason why the top educational institutions from the western world have been coming to India to study our functioning systems. Recently the Harvard institutions from the US were in Prayag to study the Kumbh Mela. Indian systems have many positive features. India has natural, human and intellectual resources to the required extent. India has a long history which has critical lessons to offer to emerge as a successful nation. But we need to use them.

We need to think on our own to make the best use of the available resources and build the future that we want. Studies conducted at the field levels reveal that the functioning of our systems is based on the native strengths. India’s developments over the last sixty decades have been due to her unique thoughts, practices and approaches. In spite of success at different levels, India has not been able to solve the critical problems at the economic, social and cultural levels. The reason for this is our attitude to depend on others and follow them even in small matters. Besides, we have failed to understand and develop suitable concepts and theories in spite of the successful models functioning at different levels.

All this have to change. It can happen only when the educated and elite sections of the country realize the need for a reorientation in thinking. We should begin to think along the nation-centric lines, as India has everything in her. It is the first step to achieve for all that we aspire as a nation.

1.     Swami Vivekananda, Completed Works, Advaita Ashrama, Calcutta, 1989
2.     Dharampal, Essays on Tradition, Recovery and Freedom, Other India Press, Goa, 2000
3.     Will Durant, The Case for India, Simon and Schuster, New York, 1930
4.     Peter Cappelli and others, The India Way, Harvard Business School Publishing, Massachusetts, 2011

( Yuva Bharati, Vol.40 No.10, May 2013)