The foundation is being started by like-minded individuals with the aim to contribute our part in making our society and in turn our country great. To do that we aim to instill a culture of honest conversation, open dialogue and being the change that we want to see.
Too much pessimism is being woven into our national fabric with corruption, lack of accountability and zero to nil enlightened leadership continuing to be our bane. The bulk of talents that resides in rural India is not finding an outlet to express itself. Its voice remains to be heard and is feeble for a long time. The current growth trajectory that is widening the gulf between the rich and poor, despite the governments’ best of intentions might throw all of the recent decadal gains under the bus, if the course correction doesn’t happen soon. What is most surprising is that people have gotten used to corruption as a way of life and leadership at the political office level is kept at a very low threshold and that enables all the undesirable character to wield power.
My recent story
I have also personally taken the last six months to reconnect with myself away from the hustle and bustle of my previous professional life, travelling extensively and widely from countries to states to villages, attended talks and seminars, connected with all like-minded people in depth. One thing and the one thing that I have understood during this journey is the sense of decency that all of us carry with us. A common man at his core is built on the magic of simplicity. I was fortunate to witness this magic in many of us. This simplicity over the years has got disturbed because of many reasons viz the sense of corruption that has crept in, politicians who speak in a way and act in a different way, when we get zero or close to zero returns for the taxes that we pay and importantly when we are always cynically divided in the name of religion and other million divisions that we have and never see ourselves as an Indian, or a Tamil or a Kannadiga or our other larger identities. This over a point in time has made all of us cynical, made us accept corruption and we were always longing and looking for the next messiah to come and save us. What really surprises all of us, if we really take some time to self-reflect, is how we have taken this cynicism as a way of life!
Technology and Divide:
More technology has definitely made our lives simpler on a personal and professional front and it has also equally brought severe pitfalls. We get divided and distracted faster, extreme viewpoints have become the order of the day, social media communications have been weaponized and carefully curated to make us more emotional and less rational, we are more divided in our lifetimes than we were united anytime and importantly we are going away from the sense of being a human. Also, with all of our daily communications being at a historical high and with some of those instruments dominating us, we have become slaves of technology & that include WhatsApp, Facebook and other platforms. We need to de-addict ourselves and become more connected to a fellow human being.
Where we have succeeded and failed:
We as a nation have succeeded on quite a front. We have lifted millions out of poverty, eliminated hunger as a way of life, have built world class companies, have created some of the finest universities, got started with infrastructure development and importantly have jump started much in our economic footprint. Though our leaders have done their best, we can always aspire to be better. We have failed in three sectors notably – Health, Education and the Quality of leaders in public life. That’s because, here the quality one gets is determined by the heaviness of their purse and the place of their birth. Most countries that have grown up well have got this right. That is, any citizen gets an EQUAL and QUALITY access to both. The heights to which a child can grow shouldn’t be determined by the height their parents were able to rise. A poor man’s child and a rich man’s child should get an equal opportunity to grow and pursue their life. Else, it will be asking somebody to run by tying up their legs. This I believe is the state’s responsibility and I think we have failed in that and that too by a mile.
Coming to the quality of the people who represent us in public life, the less said about them the better for all of us. There is no point in blaming any of them as each of our motivation & self-evolvement is different. Many of them have a myriad of mindsets – some to protect their ill-gotten wealth, some to make ill-gotten wealth, some in between to both protect and create and some good people who have a genuine desire to bring change caught up with a wrong system. Before we fully get into analyzing the social and economic reasons for why we got into all of these, it’s better to focus on how to get to a better world.
The way forward:
As a group we believe the time for talks is over and we can get into action even if it might appear miniscule. We will without a doubt do our meaningful part in setting our country onto a path for greater heights. We clearly want to get into three areas that we believe will define the aspirations of ‘new’ India.
1. Skilling – from Job Seeking in stage 1 to job creation in stage 2:
We would like to start a dedicated program to skill youths who have a basic degree or in their final year of graduation. The core emphasis of this program will be on building communication skills, critical thinking ability and helping them to be confident and maybe not be perfect individuals, which our current education system is intending to do. We have partnered with Valluvar College of Science & Management, Karur and that will be our first base. We will be upgrading one seminar hall with facilities needed to deliver the course. Once they are trained, we intend to facilitate placements for them.
2. Dialogue for Development:
This dialogue series that will be hosted will try to bring the best of speakers available in urban areas to rural audiences. We will be organizing awareness workshops on topics of pertinent interest that include – pressing national issues, good politics and political leadership, development needs of the local areas, best of writers, new and innovative ideas to infuse fresh energy and dynamism among the audience. This will be a half-yearly affair in Karur, Coimbatore and Mangalore.
3. Organic farming, living with needs in control and an alternate model of development:
Rural areas which were cradles of civilization have become living hells now with people migrating en masse. Mahatma Gandhi memorably said, ‘India lives in its villages’ and now the apt representation would be, ‘Indian villages live with its belly up’. Many of our reckless policies and blind aping of the west have taken us to this stage. We aim to shift the focus back to agriculture and that too in an organic way, educating people on their needs and wants and importantly to promote an alternate and an Indian way of living. This has to go through the route of conversation building – experimentation – encouraging and finally funding. We are committed to cracking this seemingly tough problem.
We might not have arrived at the most apt model now but we have the best of intentions to keep evolving.
Come, let's act now !!!
We The Leaders Foundation