Dear Prime Minister

We are a very democratic country, and it is possible to write to our Prime Minister. So, tired of the endless talk about demonetisation and jallikattu, and none at all about the things that really matter, I did. Twice, very politely. Both times, tracking my letter, I found that an Under Secretary (Public) had received and forwarded my ‘grievance’ to the Prime Minister’s Office. The Current Status, it said, was Closed (NO ACTION REQUIRED). In the Feedback Form, I mentioned that yes, action was very much required. But that fell on deaf ears, which, nevertheless, thanked me for my suggestions. And I am back to square one, which is talking to myself and anyone who cares to listen. At least now I can drop the ubiquitous uppercase of officialese.

Dear Shri Modiji,

Your love for our country and your wish to make India great again is obvious to all. Uniquely, you have both the opportunity and the capability to do this. However, our greatness can only be regained by focusing our energy on the strengths, and not the weaknesses, of our civilization. Since time immemorial, the people of this land have revered nature. Unlike the West, which considered nature an adversary, we thought of her as a benevolent mother who would take care of all our needs as long as we did not abuse her. And so we worshipped every tree, every stone, every creature, as a manifestation of nature. The Vedas were an outpouring of this love of nature. This was our genius and our strength; the source of our spiritual nature, generosity, tolerance and devotion to duty.

Unfortunately, centuries of foreign rule destroyed our spiritual roots, and replaced it with ignorance and greed. We are constantly trying to catch up with the industrialized West, destroying our bountiful natural resources in the process while, ironically, the West looks to us for spiritual guidance. The only way India can be a world leader today is to recover her lost heritage. Paradoxically, the process of recovery has to be accomplished without looking to the past for answers. Because the world has changed immeasurably, we need to chart out new ways to coexist with, and draw sustenance from, nature. The Permaculture movement that began in Australia is an example of such a way. Original, unbiased research can help us find the best practices for our conditions.

Education, at every level and in every sphere, is of tremendous importance in this process. The ultimate aim of such education is to make the people passionate guardians of the earth, of the air, of the precious water bodies big and small, of mountains, forests, rocks and trees, fellow humans, animals and birds. We should take more pride in having less, in sharing what we have with our fellow beings. Please make this the focus, the one-point agenda, of your administration.

Rather than resorting to punitive measures to confiscate the ill-gotten gains of our greed, people – and especially the youth – need inspiration and non-material incentives to keep us away from the pathways of greed. Starting with your ministers and party workers, help this country realize that by destroying nature, we are literally sawing off the branch we are sitting on. Only by nurturing nature can we gain health, happiness, and that true wealth, which is of the mind. Let us tackle this great work together with vigour. सह वीर्यम् करवावहै!

Let us resolve to be, not just one more developing country, but a leader: a country united in its commitment to care for the earth, care for each other, and gratefully return the surplus.



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