“Mourning in every home in England and still the war goes on. Such is human folly. How long will it take for man to become civilized! Will wars ever cease? Mother knows! The New Year is sure to bring about a great change. Pray some good may come to India. I send you all joy, all love, all success for the New Year and many, many more to come.”
– Swami Vivekananda, Letter dated December 27, 1899, The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda,
Volume 9, Letters – Fifth Series
The completion of another cycle of a Gregorian calendar does not mean much to us historically and culturally as it does not have much of a scientific basis. More importantly, it does not correspondent with the seasonal changes in Bharat that are in tune with nature. Still, thanks to the colonial baggage, for all the practical purpose we are dependent on the same calendar starting from January, ending in December. Therefore, there is no harm in stocktaking the events of the year, for starting a new calendar year on a positive note.
There are many defining moments of 2016 for Bharat and the World. Still, this sequence of events indicates three important learnings for us, especially from Bharatiya point of view.
First of all, there is a new upsurge of nation and national identities. As a reaction to the excessive and exploitative form of globalisation, the natural urge for connecting with roots, is on the rise. Whether Brexit, or not that surprising victory of political novice, Donald Trump in the US Presidential Election, indicate the same trend. Everywhere the churning about ‘who we are’ is the central theme. In Bharat as well, each issue is boiling down to renewed rigour for rebuilding civilisational discourse to reconstruct the national identity. The secular-communal discourse that is turning into national and anti-national one is not an accident, but a natural process. Many would consider this as a process of parochialism, leading to confrontation. In reality, the same process has potential for each society and nation to realise its existential goal. Whether we go beyond toleration and learn to respect and accept that cultural sovereignty for redefining the self or not is the real question.
The power struggle between the West and Islam for political expansionism has reached to a critical stage in 2016. The turmoil in West Asia and demographic fragility in Europe indicate the same, which will sure spill-over to 2017. The expansionist policies rooted in reductionist ideals is creating havoc in Africa, Asia and Europe. The outgoing year certainly taught us that the European Liberalism is not that ‘liberal’ and need not solve critical issues pertaining to human relations.
The obvious corollary is the emergence of Bharat as a critical player in all major happenings in the world. The thumping victory of Bharatiya candidate in the election for International Law Commission, growing acceptance of Yoga and Ayurveda and increasing role of Bharat in regional and sub-regional partnerships are the living examples of growing acceptance of Bharat and Bharatiya point of view. If Bharat stands up on time tested principles of human integration and show political will to act firmly and surely as seen in actions like surgical strike and remonetisation, we as a nation can change the discourse. Without participation and support of Bharat, Climate Change Deal in Paris would not be a reality. It is not
just a certificate but a frank recognition of Bharat as a
Ultimately, nation and global change do not take place merely through political change but you need to work on nurturing minds who can and will work beyond the narrowly defined self-interests. ‘Pray some good for India’ was not just a request from Swami Vivekananda in his new year message to one of the disciples in 1899, he was simultaneously working for the action plan for making that good happen. Bharat has potential to rise for the world was the essential assurance behind that. Taking a clue from this calendar year, if decide to rise above selfish motives and collectively resolve to work for the larger good, we can certainly bring something ‘good for Bharat’ as we brought in many new areas this year. Wish you a very Happy and meaningful year ahead!