What I have learnt from the NaMo Wave

The biggest lesson I glean from Elections 2014 is “acceptance”.  

I am not a Narendra Modi fan. Simply, I cannot relate to someone, however brilliant he may be as an administrator, who used religion to build both his party and himself. But this is a verdict that my country’s people have given emphatically. And I can do nothing to change that. So, the best way forward, I discover through my awareness, in such a scenario, is to accept what is and simply move on.

A lot of our problems and miseries come from wanting people and situations to be different from what they are. The moment we drop the “wanting” and accept a situation for what it is or a person for who she or he is, we are instantaneously at peace with ourselves and with everyone else. We often fail to realize that in our wanting people or situations to be different, we are actually letting our ego play up. We are saying that we know better than others how they should be leading their lives or doing things.

Cartoon Courtesy: India Today/Internet
For instance, as the election results started coming in yesterday, my ego told me that the people of India were making a mistake. My issue was no longer with Modi. It was with the people of India. I was alarmed that we were handing over power to someone charged with genocidal racism. Whenever I am disturbed I have learnt to drop anchor and be silent. When I reflected on whatever was happening with the election results, I realized that I was being unduly paternalistic about the situation. Who am I to tell the people of India what to do? They are informed and responsible enough to have done what they did. My awareness again helped me conclude that there was no point in resisting the reality. The people of India had either decided to overlook Modi’s credentials on a key aspect like secularism or they had backed his very ideology that I was uncomfortable with. Every which way, they had voted for change, voted for Modi and he is now our new leader. When this reality sunk in, I simply accepted it. I even wrote on my facebook wall wishing Modi and his A-Team all the best. With that acceptance, I found myself immensely peaceful, within.

Acceptance is not resignation though. And I want to clarify this. Resignation has a quality of discomfort to it. It is really about not being able to do anything about a situation that you hate. So, you resign to it. But there’s no scope for hatred in acceptance. Acceptance is really a celebration of the way people and things are. It reasons that while Life is imperfect it is also beautiful. When you accept imperfections in you, around you, your Life can only be beautiful. Because you are not complaining anymore. Or wishing or hoping or wanting that things were different.

So, the day after the resounding mandate, I am seeing, through my acceptance of my country’s new reality, the beauty of it all. For the first time in over 30 years, someone will lead India with a complete majority. And even if half of what he has managed to get done in Gujarat (I have seen it first hand and have great admiration for what has been accomplished there in the past decade) can be implemented across India, we will be a different, and a far improved, nation. Just as I have accepted the way I am, I have accepted the way my country men and women are, the way our new reality is, and I hope, we will all enjoy, despite the imperfections that abound, the development and governance that’s been promised!

Never confuse issues with people

Fight issues – never fight people. That way issues get discussed, resolved or stay in disagreement – but relationships never disintegrate!
There’s an interesting issue out there that’s being handled in a very mature manner by all parties involved. I’ll share it the way I have understood it so that everyone can benefit from the learning the episode offers. Joe D’Cruz is a feted Tamil writer whose first novel ‘Aazhi Soozh Ulagu’ (Ocean Ringed World, 2005) was signed up by Navayana Publishing for being translated in English. The English translation was done by V.Geetha, a noted feminist and transalator, and was due for release in late 2014. Sometime earlier this month Joe D’Cruz announced his support of Narendra Modi’s candidacy for the Indian Prime Minister’s post. Navayana, led by publisher S.Anand, and Geetha did not find D’Cruz’s personal support of Modi in conformance with their own ideologies and so they withdrew their offer to publish the English translation of his work. On the face of it, this may appear to be yet another of those many battles that the publishing world is fraught with. But this one is different because all three parties – D’Cruz, Anand and Geetha – have articulated clearly – and transparently – what their stand on the “issue” is. D’Cruz, on his part, demonstrated great honesty by telling Anand of his decision to support Modi. Anand is crystal clear in his view on why Navayana will not have anything to do with D’Cruz, the writer, anymore: “It is both appalling and disturbing that D’Cruz, who captured the rich and unique history of the seafaring community of Tamil Nadu in an epic tale spanning three generations (in ‘Aazhi Soozh Ulagu’), should call a fascist like Modi a ‘dynamic visionary’. Initially, I did not believe this till Joe told me over the phone that this was indeed his stand and that his decision was personal. However, there cannot be a place for such an author in a political publishing house like Navayana.” Geetha too is blunt: “He is entitled to his political opinion, but I don’t want to be associated with anyone or anything linked to Modi. Modi in my opinion is not only a political disaster, but downright evil. We can’t forget Gujarat 2002—no one must be allowed to, either. I still stand by his novel, which I think is a fantastic saga of fisher Life, and I am sorry Joe has decided to trade his considerable gifts as a novelist for a politics that is fascist and dangerous. I have therefore decided to withdraw my translation.” 
Let’s leave the political reasoning out of this. If we just look at the maturity of each stand, the learning is unputdownable. D’Cruz does not want to compromise his personal choice of ‘Modi for PM’ for the sake of literary success, Anand does not want to dilute his publishing house’s ideology and Geetha doesn’t wish to forgive Modi – and so doesn’t wish to associate with anyone who’s pro-Modi. Even so, neither Anand nor Geetha, questions or attacks D’Cruz’s literary genius or his impeccable credentials as an author. And that’s the way it must be.
Many a time, we tend to confuse issues with people. When we disagree with someone’s opinion, we end up making the disagreement personal. The stands people take often end up starting a mud-slinging match. To the extent that the issue is often forgotten and a bitter, personality clash is what remains. There’s great value, whenever a disagreement surfaces, in defining what the issue or the source of disagreement is. Only then can the issue be resolved meaningfully. People, however, tend to push the issue aside and sulk. Because sulking is more convenient. But sulking causes an emotional imbalance and, at times, is even a burden. You try to be nice to someone with whom you have a difference of opinion only because you don’t want to hurt that person. But do you realize that you are hurting yourself in the bargain? So, don’t sulk – instead, simply say whatever you are feeling about the issue on hand.
Inner peace really means being in sync with whatever you love. It could be about what you love doing or love wearing or reading or eating. In fact, inner peace is also impacted by how you are feeling. Don’t let anyone or anything disturb your inner peace. And one way to protect it is to speak your mind, clearly, honestly, with whoever you have a disagreement with. While disagreeing take extreme care not to attack the person and instead address only the issue on the table. Be wary of being provoked and drawn into a personal slugfest. As long as you keep the focus on the issue – you can be assured of two things. You will be at peace with yourself. And you will not be the cause of the relationship having broken down!