Archive for January, 2009

Savitribai knows the basics!

Yes, and it takes a lot of beating to realize this!!

During the last year, we have seen the stock market index fall from 21000 to below 9000. Lately, the Satyam episode has opened the nation’s eyes to corporate greed and insecurity that comes with it. Conversations in the airports have changed over time. I remember the times I have heard in Mumbai airport of few crores (1 crore = 10 million) of Ruppees being referred as small money. Now, people speak of money in hushed tones. It is not only the wealthy who have lost considerable wealth. The workers in Tirupur textile mills, waiters in the 5-star hotels, airline stewardesses, and Jaleel our fish supplier have been affected by the financial woes of our nation. Savitribai is undeterred. Her savings are mostly in seeds and compost.

When I was a young child studying in South India, the past time after school hours was to catch guppies in the rice fields and play with the butterflies. As I grew up to be a teenager, it was bicycles that enthralled me. This was followed by motorbikes and later by cars and gadgets. It seems as if education and so-called “sophistication” takes us far from nature. The further away from nature, the closer we are to the “sophisticated” crowd is what one feels. Such “sophistication” is highly contagious and has spread from the west to the east and now covers most parts of the world taking more people away from nature. Years of neglect and exploitation of nature and farms have led “experts” to agree that our planet may not be able to sustain future generations. They wonder what went wrong. They better ask Savitribai!!!

The other day when I met Savitribai with her friends, I asked her what she feels about terrorism and conflicts that happened in Mumbai and happening around the world. I expected her to say about strict measures to contain terrorism by force. However, what she told me was very different from what our Home Ministry was offering as a solution. Love begins in the family and then spreads. It doesn’t matter what the beliefs of others are or what culture they belong to. Our duty is to treat everyone with love and respect. We cannot do anything by bringing in new laws to combat terrorism. Any law is based on our age old scriptures and it is important that people live by those scriptures. Then, laws may not be necessary. There hasn’t ever been any communal tension in Savitribai’s village.

Today, January 14, is Pongal in South India and Sri Lanka, Makar Sankranti in central India, and Lohri in North India. It is a celebration of harvest. This is the day when the sun, fire, earth, water, and the powers of nature are acknowledged. Let us on this day think about the basics for human well-being.