How much do you think you are worth? No, don't check out your bank balance. Look within and assess your self-esteem. For the true measure of your worth
TIED UP IN KNOTS
As a country, we need to loosen up and like ourselves a little more
India exhibits classic low self-esteem symptoms. Says Mumbai psychotherapist Sushma Sharma: "It's because we think so poorly of ourselves that we ape the West. We don't have an identity of our own."
The contempt we have for ourselves as a nation is in evidence when we relentlessly run our country and ourselves down, whether in print, at the local teashop or while commuting. Every Republic Day and Independence Day is an occasion for a national dirge on our many iniquities.
Intellectuals gnash their teeth in impotent fury about our lacking the killer instinct, our unwillingness to patent nature's bounty or our lack of commercial sense. A thorough grounding in our values would reveal to them that they arise from a spiritual outlook of life rather than a material one.
We can also never appreciate the achievements of any of our countrymen unless they produce a certificate from the West. Tagore needed the badge of approval from Y.B. Yeats and R.K. Narayan from Graham Greene before we would deign to acknowledge them.
Even our lack of discipline, sloppiness, poor quality control and chalta hai (it's okay) attitude indicate a fundamental lack of self-belief. We fear that we cannot rise to Western standards and accordingly value ourselves less, thereby writing ourselves off. It is this innate lack of self-worth that creates endemic corruption and makes us tolerate it from others. Manufacturers rip us off, people jump queues, politicians exploit us, other countries palm off their rejected goods on us. We take it all, because we feel we deserve no better. The corollary is an awe of the West. Ever since the country's independence, we have unthinkingly adopted the western model of civilization, whether political, economic or social. Today, when the West is examining many of its tenets, we continue to careen heedlessly on the road to liberalization and globalization. How we long for the West's approval! How we lap up even insignificant mentions of India or Indians! How we protest against their criticism or even worse, their indifference to us! How do we restore our self-esteem? Ours is a spiritual country. Why not try the spiritual approach? Our sages described us as amrutasya putrah (children of immortality). Ours was the only civilization that dared to proclaim our divinity. Now, we need to believe it and live it.
This is what the Swadhyaya group has tried to instill in the villagers of Maharashtra and Gujarat. The villager is exhorted to believe in himself because God is within him. I have seen the miracles this belief has wrought. Village women hold themselves like queens and the village sarpanch (headman) turns away opportunistic politicians. Faith in themselves has set them free from many addictions, to alcohol and tobacco, as well as to external manipulation. Why can't we try it too?
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