Kiran Bedi asks Sadhguru to speak about the opportunities and threats that exist for India as a nation. Sadhguru goes into the detail about the immense opportunities that exist in India right now, but also warns that we shouldn't underestimate our ability "to goof things up." He further explains that India possesses tremendous genius, but the problem is severe lack of organization.
Recorded live on June 6, 2014, during the "In Conversation with the Mystic" event with Dr. Kiran Bedi and Sadhguru.
Kiran Bedi: Correct. And it was disunited. Let’s come to the opportunities. We’ve addressed strengths, we’ve addressed weaknesses. What are the opportunities the nation has today in nation building with 1.2 billion people?
Sadhguru: See, India is a…this…this nation is a tremendous opportunity, a possibility. This is something that anybody who looks at this nation with… closely enough can clearly see here, rest of the world clearly sees that, that this is a nation of tremendous possibility. But what we need to understand is between a possibility and a reality there is a distance. Do you have the courage, the commitment and the conviction to walk the distance? That’s always the question. I remember when I was in the Economic Forum in 2008 when things were happening and they were campaigning about “India everywhere.” There was an exuberance among Indians though rest of them were in depression because economic recession had hit the West. And Indians were in great exuberance “India everywhere” – all across Geneva “India everywhere” posters and hoardings and big thing going on.
So I was in a morning breakfast meeting with, you know a few of our union ministers and all the top corporate people and everything. They were all pumping “India everywhere, this is it, we’re going to make it.” I wish I had not said this but I…on that day I told them – I said the same thing “There is a distance between possibility and reality. Definitely it's a great possibility. We are sitting on the threshold but do not underestimate our ability to goof things up” (Laughter). They immediately…our ministers said, “Sadhguru, of all the people you are being pessimistic.” I said, “I am not being pessimistic, I am the last person to be pessimistic about anything but I know our ability to goof things. I see it every day. The way they drive on the street, the way they do things, the way everything is made – we have a phenomenal ability to goof up things because we are too much genius with very little organization.” Yes, everybody thinks he is a genius.
This is a…I have been talking about this – suddenly I cannot speak about this because see…because now the situation is (Laughs) I am not saying this in a political context, I have said this well before our present Prime Minister came. If you go, sit in a teashop in a street-side, in a rural…rural India – no, no, no I am not talking politics (Laughter) – if you sit in a teashop in somewhere rural India street-side… because I’ve driven across the country. I’ve sat in dhabas and teashops so much, I’ve ridden …I’ve crisscrossed India on my motorcycle so I lived in dhabas and teashops all the time (Laughs). So you will see the guy who is making the tea there he will be telling how Tendulkar should have made the right shot (Laughter), you know how he tch, you know how his technique is not good, he is doing a wrong approach.
Kiran Bedi: Or Bishan Bedi is sitting here, how he could have bowled.
Sadhguru: (Laughs) Whatever, this kind of things. He will be talking about how the Prime Minister should have run the country differently. Only problem with him is he does not know how to make good tea (Laughter). Now it’s changed (Laughs). This example I cannot use anymore (Laughter). So this is the problem, we are…we are too exuberant. A society like this is generally considered a high context society – with too much context, not enough content. It's a very beautiful way to exist on one level but if we do not organize…if do not focus this natural exuberance of the people a certain intelligence which is free-willing intelligence, you will have a very…a chaotic situation which seems to be going somewhere but not going anywhere. It's like whirlwind making its own rounds.
So it needs a little forceful engagement of pushing it in a certain direction, a little authority to push it. This whirlwind is fine but as long it goes where it goes. A whirlwind is a fantastic thing because it's powered by itself. People don’t understand what powers India. It’s powered by itself, it's just like a whirlwind but you must be able to direct it in the direction that you want it to go. That needs a little bit of authority but we picked up all kinds of fancy ideas, we don’t like authority, you know we don’t like any kind of authority. We would like to go all over the place. Just see…just the driving on the street is a clear demo.
Kiran Bedi: This time’s election has asked for clarity of leadership. This time’s election, there is no… undoubtedly about the kind of majority that’s been given is to deliver – deliver with decisiveness. You call it authoritarianism or you can call it decisiveness, I think that’s a choice.
Sadhguru: I am not talking about authoritarianism but a certain authority which organizes this whirlwind of chaos is needed for this country to push it in one direction, otherwise we will keep going round and round. We come… see, we’ve been sitting on a threshold. For me the economic development that everybody is talking about, I am not thinking about how you can transform your life from Maruti to Mercedes - that doesn’t matter to me. I am not against cars, I like them (Laughs) but that is not the thing.
There are over six hundred million people. Today night, after this is over when we go wherever we go, the table at which we sit there will be a choice of dinner that you and me can choose. There are six hundred million people who have no such choice tonight. The child who has to go to school tomorrow, he is not eating what is necessary for him to go and remember who is Mahatma Gandhi’s wife, he doesn’t care a damn because he has not eaten right. The woman who carries a child in her womb doesn’t have the necessary nourishment to bring out something that’s worthwhile. A man who goes on the field tomorrow, he doesn’t have necessary nourishment to do the right work. See the cattle that he handles, the beast that ploughs the land is better fed than him. Now this can change in next five to eight years’ time, if we handle things right and it matters that we handle this right.
Kiran Bedi: See, you really combined the opportunity with the threat because the same population, the same energy is goofed up as you said.
Kiran Bedi: Could be a threat? Is there any threat other than this?
Sadhguru: See, this is the biggest threat for India. This also happened in the Economic Forum – our people particularly the corporate and also the ministers were, you know everywhere you hear this – I think everybody is repeating this chant – “We are the youngest nation in the world, we are the youngest nation in the world.” This was going on big time – discussion in the India meeting in the Economic Forum. I sat through this and I was amazed why everybody is gloating about we are the youngest nation. So I asked them “What happened to the old people?” They said, “What? No, no we are the youngest nation.” I said, “That’s okay but what happened to the old people?”
I want you to know India…in India nobody gets old, people die young. That’s why we are the youngest nation in the world (Laughter). Yes. It is a tragedy that we don’t have old people but this tragedy can be turned into a tremendous possibility right now because compared to the rest of the world we are a youthful nation. We have the opportunity to power ourselves into well-being. But we must understand why we are the youngest nation. Because when we got independence in 1947 the average life expectancy was twenty-eight years. Today we’ve reached sixty-three years – sixty-two, sixty-three somewhere there which nobody can ascertain the statistics because we really don’t have proper figures on that. Let’s say we hit sixty or plus sixty…sixty plus it's fine.
If a nation is all young people, something wrong has happened, isn't it? Suppose we are saying right now sixty percent of the population is below thirty and we are very proud, tomorrow you find sixty percent of the population is below fifteen, something wrong has happened or no? Why are we not looking at it? We’ve not run it properly. Why don’t we see people are not growing old, people are not living, my great grandmother lived to be hundred and thirteen. Nobody is living like that. Everybody is dying in their fifties and sixties or even less.
So we are…we have the synergy of youth right now or in other words if you look at it – though our poets are eulogizing many things about the country, I want you to understand, for 1.25 billion people, you neither have the land nor mountains nor forests nor rivers nor even a piece of sky for 1.25 billion people. If all of them have to live in decent housing, almost literally, you know huge occupation will happen, there’ll be nothing left. Only reason why we seem to be managing is because they’re living like cattle packed up - in one room twelve people are sleeping. We’re managing. If every one of them has to have a decent bedroom you won’t have place. So, only thing that you have is people. If you have this population educated, focused, balanced and inspired we are a miracle. If you leave them uneducated, unfocused, uninspired, unskilled, we are the biggest disaster waiting.
Kiran Bedi: Do we need money for this?
Sadhguru: We have the money. We have the money. We’ve not had a determined leadership. What has been lacking is leadership. Because… I’m not somebody who takes any political stance but I’m just looking back, I’m seeing - leave the first twenty-five years after independence, they did whatever best they could do with little that they had and it’s a heady times, okay? But after the passing of Jawaharlal Nehru, we’ve not really had a Prime Minister. In the sense, somebody always becomes… except that Lal Bahadur Shastri for a short period and maybe Narsimha Rao for a little period which was… government was tottering all the time – rest of the time somebody becomes a Prime Minister only because somebody dies and Indian emotion, like a cinema it overtakes everybody, and somebody’s daughter, somebody’s son, somebody’s somebody becomes the Prime Minister. We’ve never really had someone who has roots in the nation, who knows what this country is and who is burning with aspiration to make this nation something, we’ve never had that. It’s only by default that people have become Prime Ministers in this country.
Kiran Bedi: But don’t the leaders come from within the community, within the people?
Sadhguru: No, no tch, I’m saying Prime Ministers happened only because somebody died.
Kiran Bedi: But you also have certain states. We’re talking about… even state governance, we’re not only talking about central governance.
Sadhguru: Yes, but…
Kiran Bedi: India has twenty-nine states today. State governance. Look what’s happening with Uttar Pradesh today. Uttar Pradesh what is happening… it’s a leadership which was elected two and a half years ago with overwhelming acceptance. What happened? It comes from within. What is the present state? I’m not saying it’s gone wrong or right. So aren’t people responsible for it?
Sadhguru: We are a democracy in paper. But our mindset is essentially feudalistic. Because even... I’m saying even among the elite and educated, suppose you do well tomorrow, suppose our present prime minister does really well tomorrow, people will cry “I wish we had a son.” (Laughter) You understand? People will cry “We wish he had a son because when he goes, his son could become the Prime Minister.” I’m saying in our mindset we are still feudalistic. So when you are feudalistic, things are run in a certain way. What essentially it means is, being feudalistic or democratic is, feudalistic means who your father was matters; democracy means I don’t care a damn who your father was. I don’t want to know. This is why I said Mahatma Gandhi’s wife, I don’t want to know who she is, I don’t want to know who Mahatma Gandhi’s father is. We bow down to him for who he is and that’s all that matters to us. And that’s how it should be in a democratic nation. We care who you are, we don’t care who your father was. You may care who your father was, I don’t care who your father was. I only care who you are.