Today the first Leadership Convention on World is One was organised by World Leadership Academy.
I would like to quote Shakespeare who writes, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players” can be tweaked as, “All the world’s a family and all the men and women its members,” to reflect the true spirit of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’, from the Maha Upanishad. The Vedas reinforce the fact that despite our differences, we are essentially one family. And that is the theme of this convention.
Though I am a person of field and ground zero, I would try to summarise my thoughts on Equity and Justice, Inclusiveness in Diversity, Culture of Resilience, Innovations and Disruptions based on my life experience and limited reading. These themes are very important, fundamental and always in relevance, even in these testing times of pandemic. It is a good mix of abstract and relative norms on one hand and definite and factual truth on the other.
Let me begin with what appears to me to be the most pressing problem confronting mankind today. Modern man has brought this whole world to an awe-inspiring threshold of the future. He has reached new and astonishing peaks of scientific success. Yet, in spite of these spectacular strides in science and technology, and still unlimited ones to come, something basic is missing. There is a sort of poverty of the spirit which stands in glaring contrast to our scientific and technological abundance. The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together and art of giving as brothers and sisters.
I would like to refer to Martin Luther King here. He says, every man lives in two realms, the internal and the external. The internal is that realm of spiritual ends expressed in art, literature, morals, and religion. The external is that complex of devices, techniques, mechanisms, and instrumentalities by means of which we live. Our problem today is that we have allowed the internal to become lost in the external. Enlarged material powers spell enlarged peril if there is not proportionate growth of the soul. I am not against material powers, but I want to highlight the basic importance of living as a social animal.
Herein, I would like to cite the Ubuntu philosophy. It is a concept in which our sense of self is shaped by relationship with other people. It highlights “I am because We are” It is such a beautiful way of living – based on community centric ethos. If this principle is adhered to the modern day problem of poverty that plagues the world will be addressed. The gulf between haves and have-nots will have to be bridged. On a macro scale, rich nations must hand-hold the developing nations. The wealthy nations must go all out to bridge the gulf between the rich minority and the poor majority. The rich must not ignore the poor because both rich and poor are tied in a single thread of destiny. It is not simple but it not impossible.
As human beings, nothing is more important than dignity and self esteem. No human beings should be compared with the other. If we do it, we compromise with dignity. When dignity and right to exercise freedom is maintained, equity and justice can be prevailed in the society. In a just and equitable society, diversity and inclusion are possible. And only when diversity and inclusion are respected, a just society can be created. While diversity is the mix and inclusion is getting the mix to work well together. In such an ideal scenario, a culture of resilience can be developed. Some tools aid to make us resilient – community connection and giving space to change. That’s where comes in Innovation and Disruption. Disruptors are innovators, but not all innovators are disruptors — in the same way that a square is a rectangle but not all rectangles are squares. Disruption takes a left turn by literally uprooting and changing how we think, behave, do business, learn and go about our day-to-day while innovation is bringing something new and that is how society and civilization progresses.
Let me explain through our example of KIIT and KISS – We tried to innovate the realms of professional and tribal education and in result, disrupted the map of education in Odisha and set an example of social responsibility by University. The mission of our work was to establish an equitable, just and access to quality education. And such accomplishments have been possible because we have recognised differences and diversity on one hand and assimilated and seamlessly integrated the ones at the margins. And in the process we have developed resilience and encouraged resilience to proliferate, to face any problem and come out strong. Do good be good. Even if you are alone, walk the path. The rest of goodness will follow.