A few of you may have already read recent posts on my friend and FTI colleague Sanjeev’s blog about our visit to Haridwar and meetings with Swami Ramdev & members of Bharat Swabhiman. I was barely able to make the visit (planned in the middle of my “Tirth12″) but in the end it was MahaDev’s wish that I be there and I did manage to spend a very fruitful albeit intense 1.5 days at Patanajali YogPeeth.
During the conversations with Swami Ramdev, I mentioned the 3 tenets that underpin my political ideology:
- We must all believe that we are Indians first (in other words, give primacy to our “Indian” identity) हम सब भारतीय हैं |
- We must put country above all. राष्ट्र सर्व-प्रथम | (I separately discovered Swami Ramdev has been publicly talking about राष्ट्र सर्वोपरि)
- We must strive for Equal Opportunity not Equality. समान अवसर न कि समानता |
I also had the opportunity to talk about my work over the last few years, ever since I took the decision to devote the rest of my life to political reform and activism in India. And I was very proud to mention my soul-mate’s (& my daughter’s) full support in this daunting task and endeavour. Sanjeev has written extensively on the visit and I am taking the liberty of reproducing extracts from his 2 posts on this (emphasis added).
These are *very* heartening developments – to say the least. FTI’s collaboration with Bharat Swabhiman, under the guidance of Swami-ji has the potential to transform our movement towards political and systemic reform. Exciting times lie ahead and I am hopeful that something good, tangible and substantive will come out of these deliberations. There is obviously a lot of ground to cover..but as you will notice from the extracts below, a solid beginning has been made. Now, onwards! My dream of “Reclaiming India” appears to be taking shape..
Stay tuned for more on this in the weeks to come.. wish me luck and pray for our success..Together, we will win! Jai Hind, Jai Bharat! Without further ado,
*** Extracts: Sanjeev’s notes on recent meetings w/ Swami Ramdev (emphasis added) ***
…In this regard, based on discussions over more than two weeks, I am pleased to report that some representatives of the Anna and Swami Ramdev team have been happy to engage with me and the Freedom Team of India, more broadly. This willingness to discuss is perhaps the result of the many years of preparation and commitment that FTI brings to the table. In addition, FTI has already formed a very close and cordial relationship with Lok Satta
…I believe that the common ground between all “good” groups could be found on the basis of a common vision document
…As part of the vision, we could all potentially agree on reducing the unnecessary role of government, and insist that government undertake its primary role well: that of security and justice.
…After conducting significant due diligence at Patanjali, I now support Bharat Swabhiman and the broad goals of Swami Ramdev. Of course, there are some issues that need resolution. But there are no integrity or other such moral issues. Instead, Swami Ramdev’s team is so highly above board that they match FTI in their insistence on total integrity
If..a combined movement of good people doesn’t ultimately arise in 2013 (and soon!), then India is going to be in for a dangerous ride, given the severe mismatch between people’s expectations and the tragic reality of daily life in India.
I’m not going to wait for such a combined group to establish. FTI will try (subject to internal agremeent) to work with Bharat Swabhiman in the first instance to develop a national movement for reform.
As this combined effort between FTI, BS and many other groups grows, other liberal groups may find it worthwhile to join hands in some form or shape.
…Although inconsistent with FTI’s strategy, this might be a necessary intermediate step in the journey to achieve 540 independent FTI member candidates in some future parliamentary elections. Unfortunately, the situation in India is so dire now, that we can’t wait for perfection. Indeed, when I’m rejecting other people’s utopian ambitions, I must also discard my own utopian ambitions. The country needs and DEMANDS change. Right now. It can’t wait till everyone masters their preferred approaches.
…FTI members like Shantanu Bhagwat will now start working almost full time to bring our ideas into the public domain through TV debates and the like. To the extent I can join them in some way, I’d be very keen to participate in such educational activity.
As I indicated in my previous blog post on this subject earlier today, Swami Ramdev has been most responsive of the three main “good” groups that want to reform India’s governance. His responsiveness is far greater than even Lok Satta’s. This has been not just amazing, but entirely unexpected.
1) FTI members have made THREE speeches, and participated in key events
Swami Ramdev not only let me speak (almost impromptu) to thousands of Bharat Swabhiman members, his institution arranged to relay this speech on Aastha channel and uploaded it on youtube. He also requested me to make impromptu comments at Jantar Mantar.
…These speeches were a major opportunity for me and Shantanu to suggest key messages of liberty and good governance into the public debate.
Just a few days after these two speeches (and many meetings), on 29 December morning, after the brave woman Nirbhaya died, Swami Ramdev requested me and a few other FTI members to sit at the yagna he performed to honour the memory of Nirbhaya. He had so many other key personnel and guests, but placed me, Supratim and Shantanu in key positions at theyagna. It was an unprecedented and humbling honour.
…He then requested Shantanu Bhagwat to deliver some comments at the yagna, which Shantanu did as well as one could hope for – talking strongly about the respect that women deserve in India.
In brief, while FTI has been able to get some interest and attention from the Anna group, our natural affinity with Swami Ramdev is much deeper. In particular, there are only a few policy disconnects with Swami Ramdev, and none whatsoever on integrity or even on his approach to reform. One thing Swami Ramdev does very well is that he consults widely with the best people in India before forming an opinion.
According to me, Swami Ramdev is not only a level 5 leader (the ONLY one I’ve found in India in my lifetime- even greater leader than Verghese Kurien), but a CITIZEN who takes his responsibilities for India VERY SERIOUSLY.
2) FTI’s logo is imprinted in the Bharat Swabhiman vision booklet
I was also delighted to be requested by Swami Ramdev for him to be allowed the use of FTI’s logo (Sone Ki Chidiya) on the Bharat Swabhiman vision document released two days ago.
This logo – which represents the best that India was in the past, and can be in the future – now forms part of the document which will reach one lakh people across India.
3) My main suggestions regarding minimal role for government form part of the Bharat Swabhiman vision booklet
In addition, if you recollect, I made many suggestions in my vision speech at Patanjali Yogpeeth. A key suggestion was that government should not needlessly meddle with citizens who want to produce something of value. Instead, government should strictly perform its core functions well (e.g. law and order). I also mentioned (this is a key KPI also mentioned in BFN) that we need to bring back the Indians who have fled India, and THEREAFTER attract the best brains from the rest of the world.
Guess what, these ideas were included personally by Swami Ramdev in his vision document. If you go to page 37 of the BS vision document, you’ll find paragraphs that reflect most of my suggestions outlined above.
In brief, Swami Ramdev is willing to listen to suggestions and even incorporate them into his vision. In a matter of days. Once he is convinced, he ACTS.
Nowhere else among the groups of “good” people working to reform India’s governance, is such flexibility, such willingness to listen, and such agility, found.
…I’m a keen admirer of Swami Ramdev now (regardless of whatever I might have said or thought in the past – let those thoughts remain as a reminder of the hasty opinions one can sometimes form through misinformed media writings). Who knows – if things continue in this direction I might even consider joining Bharat Swabhiman (as an overseas member, perhaps, initially), in addition to my Honorary membership of FTI. Please click here to download the Bharat Swabhiman vision document (in Hindi; ~ 7MB).
As I mentioned above, stay tuned for further developments & updates on this in the weeks to come.. wish us luck and pray for our success..Together, we will win! Jai Hind, Jai Bharat!