The decade of the 20’s is ours for the taking provided we are up to the task. This decade will make us or break us. The outcome depends entirely on us. Many times, in the past we have missed the boat on account of our unwise choices and inertia. We have two clearly defined paths in from of us; the first membership of the $5 trillion dollar club, a seat at the high table, elite membership, middle class economy, goodwill, fame, global acknowledgement or the second; mediocrity along with becoming the service backend of the world answerable to various geopolitical masters who use us for their strategic interests.
It is a no brainer that any sensible person would choose the former over the latter but this is easier said than done. A country cannot come into its own till its citizens don’t discover their place in the world and for this, an inherent acknowledgement of who they are, what is their place in the world and what is their relationship with their country becomes very important. In India, in the 21st century we are still grappling with diversities of caste, creed, religion and choosing our relationship with the country on the basis of these factors rather than nationalism and sovereignty.
To an extent, it is not our fault. For too long we have been used and exploited by various political parties for their gains. While there is a surge of nationalism rising in the country that unifies us subtly, we still tend to gravitate towards smaller issues for important matters and miss the larger picture. In this, the loss is always ours.
In this aspect, we have a lot to learn from China. China has taught its citizens the meaning of nationalism, being proud of their heritage, being assertive in Chinese identity, inculcated the habit of winning and taught its citizens about being unapologetic in conquering the world and not surrendering or being submissive to anyone. Considering both India and China suffered very severely from foreign invasions and imperialism, this is a lesson we need to learn well.
However, this has been taught to the Chinese citizens. In a sense, we can say they have been prepared and groomed to stake their rightful place in the world. China has perhaps gone overboard in the process but that should not be our focus. We need to learn to adopt the good and eliminate the bad. In this respect, we are simply neither prepared nor do we possess the mental make up to become leaders. We are the post-independence generation, we have not fought for our freedom with blood, most of us are oblivious to our freedom movements, we are unaware of our heroes and possess no idea of how our nation came into being. We are willing to buy in to the most ridiculous theories about our country and civilization because we have no knowledge of our ancient and wise civilisation. We are ever ready to mock it and seek gratification from the west towards acceptance of our values, culture and beliefs.
In short, we haven’t a clue about what is nationalism and how we can aid in nation building. Hence, despite being successful entrepreneurs or professionals, we lack the mindset and knowhow to leverage it into soft power; something we would be well advised to learn from our new best friend, America.
Wisdom says when in doubt go back to your roots and history and look for answers to your questions and you will certainly find them. What makes a country great? What makes a country successful? What gives a country tremendous goodwill and pride? A common answer of all of the above questions is wealth, what we call Lakshmi in Indian parlance. Hence, the answer to all our questions for a new India that will own the decade of the 20’s lies in the AshtaLakshmi Stotram.
The word Lakshmi comes from the word- “laksh” which means aim or goal. Hence following or embracing the teachings of Lakshmi helps in achieving one’s aims. Lakshmi becomes especially significant because she is also known as the goddess of wealth in Hinduism and no nation can survive without wealth. According to the AshtaLakshmi Stotra, Lakshmi has 8 manifestations – Adi Lakshmi, Dhanya Lakshmi, Dhairya Lakshmi, Shri Gaja Lakshmi, Santan Lakshmi, Vijay Lakshmi, Vidya Lakshmi and Shri Dhanlakshmi. Let us examine these manifestations individually.
Adi means eternal, one that has no beginning and no end. In other words, she is eternal. It is important that the wealth of a nation must also symbolically always flow eternally. The flow of wealth oils a country’s economy and keeps its growth constant. It is a perpetual stimulus. Another meaning of Adi in context of eternity refers to source. Hence, when we as citizens understand that we are not just individuals but a group of entities from a common source, we develop a sense of identity, belonging and responsibility. At a personal level, it makes us feel rooted and grants a sense of purpose. It makes us question our existence and motivates us to work towards a larger purpose. For countries, this feeling makes them realise they are independent entities in a connected world and it is their collective responsibility to work towards global wellbeing because we are all the children of a common source.
This means that as a country and people, we must learn the ability to create wealth that flows. Short term gains should not be always considered important but rather long-term wealth creation must become our agenda as only constant flowing wealth will prepare us to be strong and relevant in the changing geopolitical scenarios. For the government, wealth creators must be accorded a special place of pride as they will contribute significantly in the future towards enhancing India’s soft power. Incentives and policies must be formulated that make this possible. India would also be well advised to gradually move away from subsidies as charity to empowerment, a process it has already begun and not succumb to unnecessary socialism for vote bank politics.
Dhanya Lakshmi means the giver of agricultural wealth, herbs, fruits and grains. With this, we learn to optimise food security for our country. We understand the importance of mastering agricultural techniques in harmony with nature to optimise harvests and we also learn how to tackle the ills such as deficit rainfall, unseasonal rainfall, storms, other natural calamities and pests that create obstacles from achieving food production.
For India, mastery in agriculture is especially relevant as we have a billion plus mouths to feed and over 60% of our population is engaged in agriculture. Despite this, our production per acre is very low compared to developed nations. Self sufficiency in food will give us a powerful weapon to carry out actions in the benefit of our country as we will not be held ransom to other countries that would not want us to grow. Effective water management, technological advancement in irrigation, cold storage, food processing, reduction of harmful pesticides, indigenous crops, saving water table, less dependence on GM crops, hydroponic farming, vertical farming, co-operative farming policies along with effective administration reforms in agriculture will restore the status of our farmers and boost India’s confidence as it becomes a comprehensive food secure nation and furthermore, emerges a strong exporter giving it an important say in the world.
There is a growing trend of organic food production globally for sustainability and climate change; India’s traditional agricultural methods before we started borrowing from the west were always based on organic and sustainability and this is perhaps a great time to return to our roots. Greater rural prosperity means less burden on cities. It is important for India’s youth to become interested in agriculture again.
Dhairya literally means patience but in this context, it has a much more expanded definition. When we learn patience as virtue; we develop the ability to calm our mind. Thus, we don’t react, we respond. A calm mind and patience are the perfect combination to permit strategy building both tactical and long term. We also develop strength of mind that enables us leadership skills. We don’t buckle under pressure or fall prey to other people’s bullying or provocation. As citizens who are entrepreneurs, businessmen, engaged in intelligence etc this skill is critical for success as with patience, we are able to reap greater rewards and see the larger picture clearly instead of falling prey to myopia.
As India moves up the global scale and becomes a country to be reckoned with, Dhairya will be an important attribute in our foreign policy. Patience will prepare us for the long game. Effective strategy and planning will ensure we draft correct road maps for our long-term goals. Dhairya will prepare us for setbacks which are natural and ensure we never lose focus of the main aim, stay calm and steady.
Shri Gaja Lakshmi
Shri Gaja Lakshmi came from the ocean during the time of churning in the fight between good and evil and returned Lord Indra’s riches to him. Thus, this manifest of Lakshmi grants a nation with the stature of royalty and abundant riches in the form of animal wealth, chariots, horses, cavalry etc. In the modern context this means that India would need to create a powerful military-industrial complex to its existing military to enjoy a level of glorious supremacy.
Similar to the story of Gaja Lakshmi, India would always be victorious in the fight of good over evil and the biggest evil plaguing the world today is terrorism. Terrorists want to play the game of chaos to unseat nations, divide countries, bring governments to their knees and kill millions. India as a nation has never been an aggressor but it must learn to deal with any threat against its people in a fitting and proportionate matter to emerge victorious.
If India wants to be taken seriously as a military power, it will need to take the development of indigenous military hardware seriously. From being the servicing hub of military hardware during WW2 to one of the world’s largest importers, it has witnessed a huge fall. It became a Soviet client state and stayed non-aligned. Today, with Asia emerging as the global epicentre, India’s non-alignment stance will no longer work.
A country that does not participate cannot get a seat at the high table. For this, India will need to ensure superiority in all forms of conflict. This means greater emphasis on Make in India, ToT, space warfare, cyber warfare, financial warfare, intellectual warfare, information warfare, propaganda and any other measures that have become a part of hybrid warfare that could undermine its sovereignty. Its citizens will also need to become alert and vigilant and not fall for propaganda or active measures that may be created behind the charade of equality, gender discrimination, caste discrimination, religion or any other fault lines.
Santan means children. A nation without children is a nation with no future. India is a glorious country with a civilization that is centuries old. Without the wealth of progeny, it will have no legacy and a country without a legacy is forever forgotten. Further, a legacy is not created by children alone but good friends, family and society. Man is a social animal and the world is one family. This is what India has always believed as well in Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam.
India is one of the first responders in the region in times of any natural calamities. It has never hesitated in sending its navy for rescue operations in far away regions. Good actions generate goodwill. Goodwill is an important aspect of legacy. Thus, it is important that every Indian citizen understands his role as a representative of India in the world in his dealings and does his/her part in furthering the country’s goodwill. The legacy of children is only fruitful when children are given the right upbringing and value systems that make them responsible citizens. A country is respected when it is both loved and feared. With Shri Gaja Lakshmi and Dhairya Lakshmi; India will be feared and with Santan Lakshmi, it will be loved.
Vijay means victory. There is just one thing which prevents us from achieving victory, whether it is daily or long-term, big or small, tactical or strategic and that is our mind. Hence, the first hurdle that we as citizens and India as a country needs to overcome to become a permanent winner is victory over the inner hurdles in the mind. Once inner victory is achieved, external victory is inevitable leading to eternal victory. Winning is s state of mind and once this mindset is cultivated, no goal is too small, no problem is unsurmountable and no task appears unachievable as high as the mountains and deep as the ocean. In short, the world becomes our oyster.
India and its citizens will need to let go of all the mental hurdles that prevent them from being winners. We still hold deep baggage of our colonisation. It is important we let this go and start respecting and acknowledging our pride and heritage and stop seeking endorsements from the west. This does not mean that we shun everything western, but simply develop the ability to differentiate and understand; adopt what is good for us and discard the rest. The notion that everything west is gold standard must be rejected. It is important that we treat others as equals and expect their treatment of us to be the same.
Vidya means knowledge. With this manifestation, we achieve mastery in knowledge, arts and sciences. We gain the knowledge along with the wisdom to understand the universe. With this, a country can achieve the highest level of scientific, medical, technical and research skills. It can solve the most complex riddles. It can become a global powerhouse that utilises this wealth for the benefit of mankind. Further, with Vidya a country and its people achieve the 18 important skills that imprint a country and its people’s stamp on the map eternally. They are Serenity, Regularity, Absence of Vanity, Sincerity, Simplicity, Veracity, Equanimity, Fixity, Non-irritability, Adaptability Humility, Tenacity, Integrity, Nobility, Magnanimity, Charity, Generosity and Purity.
India will need to invest significantly in the advancement of science, technology, medicine and all our skills. A country of a billion plus people must be in the top 3 in all areas of prowess. Anything less is a disservice to our heritage, ancient wisdom, intellectual capability and demographic dividend. We are a functioning democracy with opportunities available to all. We owe it to ourselves and our country to be the best version of ourselves and realise our potential.
Last but not the least is Shri Dhanlakshmi which refers to wealth in the literal sense. Here, wealth is denoted by gold, currency, precious gems, metals and also refers to a country’s natural wealth such as sun, rivers, oceans, mountains etc. India as a nation is blessed in abundance with natural wealth. We have the Indian Ocean, the Himalayas that protect us from extreme cold, the ocean which makes trade possible, warm weather that makes agriculture possible, good temperatures that promote comfort for its people. We are already blessed with this wealth but we need to learn how to utilise this optimally to generate continual wealth so that our citizens enjoy an elevated standard of living which automatically means a stronger, vibrant and powerful India.
This means that we must learn to maximise our geographical strengths. With dominance over the ocean that is the route of over 60% of global trade, it is astounding that we our GDP should be this low. It is terrible that we let other countries blackmail us with terrorism and let them get away with it. As a non-pacifist country, India has never been an aggressor but when push comes to shove, any nation that tries to play with our growth and prosperity must be tackled with a heavy hand and the complete disdain it deserves. There should simply be no mercy as far as the welfare of the country and its citizens are concerned. Our population is our strength, our asset. Their lives are not expendable and we must never let countries think we value our citizens lives cheaply. A very clear message needs to be sent out that every Indian life matters, is precious; thus the cost of destroying even one life will come with a very high cost.
From the above, we can understand the depth of wisdom our civilisation comes from. The above qualities appear simple but are difficult to inculcate. We possess most of the raw skills in abundance to enable the next leap. Hinduism is the oldest surviving civilisation and this is our land. Hinduism has always been known for its vibrant, tolerant and pluralistic society that is highly inclusive. It doesn’t judge or enforce its beliefs upon anyone but simply shares its powerful wisdom and knowledge foe the benefit and upliftment of all mankind. PM Narendra Modi called India’s Northeast Ashta Lakshmi that would become its largest GDP contributor with development. It is time that India becomes the world’s Ashta Lakshmi and becomes the largest GDP contributor globally. We only need to overcome the largest hurdle which is our mind and hone our skills and there is simply no reason why this decade should not be ours.