Swami Vivekananda’s vision of Self Reliant India

    The Covid-19 crisis has fragile the rigid, unyielding mental conditions of the human minds. Trends are changing across the globe and speculations are made for a post covid scenario. India’s Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, gave a national call for Atma Nirbhar Bharat (Self-Reliant India) on 12th May 2020, while addressing the nation to win the battle against the ongoing Covid-19 outburst. According to Prime Minister Modi, India has the capacity to emerge as a global leader after this pandemic. The Self Reliant India slogan flooded all forms of media platforms with debates, discussions and write ups and what was common in all of them was the Economic aspect of self reliance.

    Around a 125 years back, Indian Saint Swami Vivekananda during his visit to America visited the University of Michigan, where he told a group of journalists “This is your century right now, but 21st century is India’s century”. [i] Prime Minister Modi also recalled that 21st century must belong to India.“We must strive to make the 21st century India’s century and the path to do that is ‘self-reliance.’[ii]The centre and State governments are doing and will do what they can but there is a bigger question which needs to be addressed? Are we Indians willingly ready to be self Reliant? Is it possible for a country to be self reliant if its countrymen are not self reliant themselves?

     It it possible to reach the goal by bypassing the process? We have to consciously make efforts to realise that vision.  Swami Vivekananda’s concept of “oneness ”is what we want today ,we all would  need oneness of the vision, oneness of the mind and effort , that what we see in organisations and successful teams.‘India, the Nation as an organised and of one mind for Self Reliant India, this should be our goal. Ways, methods, processes, procedures and cources of action, can be different but one idea that has to be common is our prime goal to make India Self Reliant.

    Swami  Vivekananda throughout his life focused  on the idea of  ‘’Man Making’’and, according to him, through this process of Man Making India will arise and awake once more and the ancient  mother will be sitting on her throne rejuvenated , more glorious than ever . After the revolt of 1857 if we go down into the modern history one of the or the most important event in  India’s history  was Swami Vivekananda representing Indian Darshan ,Culture and civilisation at the first World  Parliament of Religions held at Chicago, USA on 11th of September 1893. During his first visit to the West (1893-1897) Swamiji with his epoch making speeches changed the prospective of how the west looks towards India. India was considered to be a country of snake charmers, land of superstitions and a slaves country which was being ruled by foreign invaders from centuries.

    First step towards Self reliant India will be to acknowledge our glorious past and out of that will rise the conviction to reclaim our position in the comity of nations. If India and Indians want to be self reliant how can we blindly follow any model, can we follow the West Blindly? Swamiji says“On one Side new India is saying, ” If we only adopt Western Ideas, Western language, Western Food, Western Dress, and Western manners, we shall be as strong and powerful as the Western nations; on the other , old India is saying , ‘Fools ! By imitation of other’s idea it never become one’s own; nothing unless earned, is your own.’’  [iii] So we have to go by our natural tendency, the Indian way .We can learn from west but should not imitate their ways blindly .We have to look across the globe ,and take ideas but absorb them in our own way.

    Swami ji never talked about any idea on surface level, he used to touch the core and would go to any length to know the truth. While travelling in the west he observed that education has given enormous faith in one’s own self .In India we have to cover the length and the breadth of the land to give basic education to the last man, but for swami Vivekananda education was not a tool to get a job, rather he talked about “man making education ’’in his lecture’’ The Future of India ’’- he said ‘’Education is not the amount of information that is put into your brain and runs riot there, undigested, all your life. We must have life-building, man-making, character-making assimilation of ideas. If you have assimilated five ideas and made them your life and character, you have more education than any man who has got by heart a whole library .Education must be on national lines, through national methods as far as practical.’’[iv]

    This education will help build “National character” where individual excellence and egoistic growth will transform into psychosocial growth. Where the spirit will go forth to embrace the nation, nay, entire humanity with its love, compassion and humanistic care. If this is developed, our best minds which have been trained in highly subsidised institution of higher studies like IITs etc. will not go abroad for employment. We cannot separate them with terms like “They/Them and  Us’’. India needs them. And since the nation has made them what they are, they should be able to serve the country in the best possible way, albeit we  will have to create a conducive environment for that, where creativity, innovation and growth can be assured for the deserving one. On the part of Individual, it should not be ‘What the Nation can provide us, rather it should be How can I serve my Nation. We all know how, after the “Balfour Declaration”, Jews from all across the world came back to their promised land ‘Israel’ to make a nation which they themselves and their ancestors have always dreamt of having. And now in less than 100 years we see a powerful nation marching ahead in every field. This was only possible because of their love for their land. Jews across the world without selfishly thinking about their personal growth went back to their land, this is a striking example of national character for one and all.

    On the other hand we have to develop a ‘may i help you’ attitude in our system. The day we all will start feeling from our heart for every countryman, our work will automatically gain momentum. But it is not so easy, some of us will have to sacrifice ourselves. Swamiji says ‘’ no great work can be done without sacrifice. We have to forgo our comforts and pleasures to make a bridge of human chains over which millions will cross this ocean of life ‘’[v]. So we have to work tirelessly because we have to convert this precarious situation into an opportunity and this opportunity into reality. We have to work, work and work, the results will take care of themselves. So let us join hands and accomplish our mission of Self reliant India.”    

    [i] https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/a-nation-builder-an-inspiration-5021101/

    [ii] https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/pm-modi-lockdown-speech-self-dependency-economic-measures-1677266-2020-05-12

    [iii] Ranade ,Eknath. “Rousing Call to Hindu Nation‘’,Vivekananda Kendra Prakashan Trust :Publisher 2017 (11th Edition ),Page 31


    [v] Ranade ,Eknath. “Rousing Call to Hindu Nation‘’,Vivekananda Kendra Prakashan Trust :Publisher 2017 (11th Edition ),Page 50