The struggle for India’s freedom from the British Empire which began in 1857 ended on 15 August 1947 which we celebrate as Independence Day every year. On that day we remember thousands of men and women who sacrificed their lives for the freedom of our mother land. Initially different kings fought with their army against the British Empire. The British exploited the lack of unity among different kings through East India Company and India lost her freedom.
The independence movement received a new momentum and vision with the arrival of Mahatma Gandhi. He succeeded to unite the whole nation to fight against the mighty British Empire with his non-violent way of resistance and non-cooperation. Gandhi’s vision of freedom was beyond mere political freedom. He prepared the whole nation for a new way of life based on non-violence, forgiveness and truth. With political freedom Gandhi wanted the people of India to be free from all kinds of slavery and experience equality, brotherhood, justice and all other universal values.
As soon as India got independence from the British its disintegration started. The partition of the country followed by communal violence and murder of millions enslaved the nation once again into worse slavery of divisions based on caste, creed and colour. The diversity, a unique gift of God to India and our national heritage was distorted. The nation was enslaved again by the divisive forces within the country. The unique gift of diversity became cause for all dispute and violence. As the years passed, India also lost leaders of statesmanship who transcended their religious, caste and regional identities. Gradually once again India started experiencing disintegration and division into sects on the basis of religion, caste and regional agenda by the corrupt politicians, corporate companies and priestly class. People are being brainwashed and enslaved by these forces today. The nationalism which united India against foreign domination is being distorted to an aggressive religious fundamentalism which is alien to Indian ethos and spiritual tradition for political gains.
It is in this context I envisaged a nation freed from communalism, corruption, division and all kinds of evil. It was a vision for a civilization of love ensuring its citizens, dignity, freedom, equality, justice, pluralism and genuine democracy. It was a dream where the country is led by visionary leaders with integrity to preserve the sacred heritage of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, universal family.
Experience of working with the youth for many years gave me confidence to trust in the goodness and power of the youth. India is young with its fifty five percent of the population below 25 years of age. I asked myself, why don’t we share this dream of rebuilding the nation with the youth and make them partners to realize this dream? This dream gave birth to Universal Solidarity Movement of Value Education on 16 July 1993. Every meeting with the youth has only confirmed my conviction. Outcome of every training programme with the youth has affirmed my dream. The resolutions the young students make and the honesty with which they practice them sustained USM all these years and spread it across the country. The miracles of transformation witnessed in the lives of thousands of young people motivate us to face all kinds of adverse situations and challenges.
From its inception, Universal Solidarity Movement had made a policy of not owning land and building of its own. It has no regular guaranteed income. During the last 27 years it has reached out to more than a thousand schools in all parts of India conducting orientation programmes and training for thousands of teachers and students. Over 7980 students in 380 batches from 22 states of India have participated in the one week enlightened leadership training in USM community at Indore as on June 2019. These students are sustaining their commitment and acting as catalyst of change in their schools/ colleges and families. They are motivated to build an India based on the universal values enshrined in the Constitution of India. They believe in personal transformation and pluralism as the core principles of rebuilding the country. They condemn and reject the politics of communal and caste polarisation.
At the end of each training programmes when the young students and their teachers share their testimonies of personal transformation and commitment to rebuild a better India and a better world I feel emotional and thank God for His abundant blessings. Our conviction of building a new alternative to the present corrupt and communal leadership gets confirmed. I thank God for the miracle we are privileged to witness despite adverse situations. I thank God for sustaining the faith in God’s providence in the midst of insecurity and scarcity. I thank God for the gift of daring to dream something creative, which no one has done so far. Through USM community mission God is manifesting His power and glory each moment with minimum infrastructure, with minimum staff, with minimum funds and yet with abundance of generosity. It is God’s own mission to establish a civilization of love, a world of universal solidarity and peace.
The successful experiment of USM mission should be multiplied all over India. Let a thousand USM model communities be blossomed with mentors with life time commitment. ‘Harvest is plenty, labourers are few’. Millions of young people are waiting to be touched and polished to be transformed in to precious diamonds. Time is running out and the destructive forces are at the door step. It is time for us to recover from our slumber to act, act NOW.
(Published on 15th July 2019, Volume XXXI, Issue 29)