The health of a society is determined by the number of beds available in its hospitals and the occupancy of its prisons. In many developed countries prison occupancy touches around 160 percent and there is a need to build new prisons in these so-called developed countries. I would not call that a healthy society. A society where one-third of the population sees jail at one time or another maybe advanced in terms of economic indices, but it is not a developed society. If one in every five children goes to a psychiatrist, then that is not a healthy society. The health of a society depends on the wellbeing of its people, on the availability of places in hospitals and prisons. We do not need to build more hospitals. We need to teach people how to be healthy.
Charity is not the only language we need to speak today. Today, we need to build the self-esteem of people. Of course you need to help them financially. At the same time, they should be made aware that they have the means to create something. We need to give them a vision. I have seen that people who have a vision or a dream contribute to the development of their society. People who encounter an urgent need too facilitate in society’s development. Out of a need or a dream, a person gets motivated to do something. Today we lack both. We are not giving our people a vision, or a dream about one’s village, society, or the world.
There is no urgent need in our time. But see when the Tsunami disaster occurred everyone pitched in, everybody got together. Such an urgency or need such as a calamity makes people active. It brings the pro-activity in a person to the fore. In absence of such a need, people should have a dream, a vision about their country, their state, or their village.
When there is a lack of these two things, we will have a slow and underdeveloped economy. I like the example of the sun drawing water from the earth and giving it back. We are dependent on the society and in turn society expects something from us, citizens. Each one of us is situated in that equation. We just need to attend this idea in our minds: What can I do for the society? What type of society do I want to leave behind for my children? One that is more beautiful than what we have inherited or one, which is more terror-stricken, unsafe, where we feel insecure and depleted of natural resources? These thoughts, ideas and such attitude of questioning have to be cultivated and ingrained in us. This can be brought about through education.
I believe rural India does not lack in resources. But we have used the wrong channels. A white collared person earns less than a coolie or a labourer in a village, and he spends sixty percent of his income towards liquor. There is an absence of direction and focus. Drug abuse and alcoholism are principal factors contributing to the poverty in our country. These are the issues we need to address. And a third factor is violence, particularly domestic violence. So much is lost when violence takes over one’s life, one’s mind. The cause for violence is very simple to identify. It is stress, lack of understanding and a narrow vision of life. Don’t you agree with this?
I feel the success in life is measured by the smile you have on your face. A child smiles four hundred times in a day. An adolescent smiles only seventeen times and an adult doesn’t smile at all. The same thing is replicated in bureaucracy. As one gets to a higher post, the more grim and stiff they become. One becomes more and inaccessible to people. Most of our development initiatives are hindered by such an attitude, which causes a lack of communication with people. Improvement of communication, sensitivity towards the environment, broader understanding about inter-dependence and a long-term vision, these are the basic factors that will bring about sustainable development. Without these, development will be like a stool that has no legs. Without these I do not see how sustainable development can be maintained or furthered.
In all of this, the media has an important role to play. In this country, we have a blame culture. We blame ourselves. When there was natural disaster in Gujarat the media was at loss. They couldn’t blame the government. They couldn’t blame God because they didn’t believe in Him. Whom to blame? We waste so much of energy in this blame culture. Whenever something wrong happens we blame others. We point a finger at someone else — that they did something wrong.
This attitude indicates a lack of taking responsibility. Not taking responsibility leads us to nowhere. You cannot progress in society without taking responsibility. We need to know this. Our main responsibility is to make people responsible. And this is what Yoga is all about. Yoga means that you take responsibility – you take responsibility for your feelings, for the way things are in your life and then you take responsibility for the whole world. The entire Vedanta and the Darshanas of this land have brought this knowledge to us. They emphasize that one takes responsibility. You are responsible for everything. And I think this one principle can help people go a long way.