Dare to be free, dare to go as far as your thought leads, and dare to carry that out in your life.” – Swami Vivekananda
I always believed that truth is timeless. These words by Swami Vivekananda are as relevant today as they were when we had to struggle for freedom. And they will be just as relevant, decades after I have left this world.
With each passing year I add another number to my age and I will eventually become a part of the past while you are growing into the today that will shape our tomorrow.
Welcome to the most decisive time in the history of future India. We often tell young people they are the leaders of tomorrow, but I disagree. Your strength is needed in India today. You are here right now, as I am. It’s our burden to bear; it’s our responsibility to share.
I’ve been fortunate enough to meet many passionate and intelligent young souls during my journey to this point in my life, many who reminded me of who I was when I was young, and many more who showed me I could have been better.
I’ve also learnt that there is nothing I can teach you that you can’t teach yourself, in this era of Internet and smart phones. In fact, most young people, somehow, end up teaching me something new. Every day.
A few points come to mind as I write this letter. Some were taught by experiences, and some are beliefs. I will share them with you, as I remind myself too.
1. Anything is possible as long as we believe in it, truly and strongly.
2. Fence sitting will get us nowhere. If a problem bothers you, find a way to communicate and solve it.
3. Try not to hold back the truth because every time we hold it back, something that is not true will be presented as the truth.
4. Try not to disrespect anyone who speaks his/her mind, no matter how much you disagree with what is said. If we disregard the ability to disagree and to hold dissonance, then we lose that most fundamental freedom of being a human being: the ability to be true to ourselves.
5. Our countrymen and women don’t need protection; we just need to realise how powerful we really are. Power that was always ours in the first place.
6. The beauty of India’s diversity lies in the freedom it gives us. To follow the religion of our choice, to marry whom we choose (if at all), and the right to love whom we see fit. To build the future that we want for ourselves. There is nothing positive or productive to be achieved by dividing people on this basis, or restricting their ability to access information or services on the basis of their caste, class or gender. This was never the vision for India in the 21st century and this isn’t my vision for the India I have grown up in and care so deeply about.
7. Economic growth should not mean financial growth exclusively for companies and industries that build our bridges, industries and roads or sell our natural resources for profit. It should mean growth for the common man, as well. This can be achieved; we have the skills and knowledge to do it.
8. Your individuality and identity are important. Find your voice, your way of participating in the system and believe that every attempt is worth it. Find that one issue that you are passionate about and let it spark a revolution inside you.
9. And finally, I believe that what I can do alone, we can do better and faster, together. I hope you will stand strong and challenge my generation with a new vision for India. A vision that believes in solidarity, diversity and freedom and is blind to the politics of intolerance, hatred and indifference. I believe in that India and that is the country I go to work for, each and every day. I hope you will join me.