India, one of the world’s most ancient living civilizations is today shackled and wanting to break free but hasn’t yet figured her way out.
By Shobhit Mathur, Co-Founder & Dean at Rashtram
Image Source: Vedicfeed
Any lay observer would say that India is chaotic and buzzing with activity all the time – yet at an aggregate level the pace of directional change is slow. One of the world’s most ancient living civilizations is today shackled and wanting to break free but hasn’t yet figured her way out. We have all the right ingredients for change – living wisdom from the ancients, a vibrant democracy and a young demography – yet these forces have not fused together. We at Rashtram, meditated on this conundrum and dipped into our knowledge sources to figure the way forward.
In the Hindu thought, Shakti is the primordial cosmic energy in the universe. Shakti is the energy that creates, sustains and destroys everything in the universe and the universe as a whole.Lalita Sahasranama mentions that Shakti is in 3 forms: (1) Jnana Shakti: energy of knowledge (2) Ichchaa Shakti: energy of will and (3) Kriya Shakti: energy of action. For the success of anything in this creation, all three shaktis are needed to be aligned and activated. For any outcome such as brushing your teeth successfully: you need to know how to brush (jnana shakti), you need the will to do it (ichchaa shakti) and you need to perform the action (kriya shakti). Take away any of the shaktis and you take away success. This is true for the simplest micro action to the macro functioning of the universe. With this ‘3 shakti framework’ we can perhaps unlock the answer to India’s problems.
These three Shaktis reside in three important public institutions in India: jnana shakti in academia, ichcha shakti in the legislature and kriya shakti in civil society. These institutions correspond to the power of knowledge, the power of will and the power of action respectively. If India is unable to achieve any big success, it is because these Shaktis are not activated and aligned. The institutions work in silos and there is little alignment between their visions. The research produced in academia, the policies framed in legislatures and the action of civil society on the ground need to be aligned in vision and mission and operate in an integrated manner. In short, we need to align and activate the shaktis resident in these institutions.
Firstly, we are missing a unifying vision between the public institutions of our country. Our polity is fragmented and driven by petty interest groups chasing short term goals. The research in academia is disconnected from the needs of society, the innovations by grassroot entrepreneurs do not scale up through policy, our public policy is disconnected from research and societal needs. We need to get our public institutions and public officials to live and breathe the same national consciousness. By assuming the false idea that we are a Nation-State created in 1947 and adopted a constitution in 1950, we have broken away from our rich civilizational past. We are suffering from amnesia and have forgotten our millenia old unifying geo-cultural identity. We are a continuing living civilization that has adopted the superstructure of colonial institutions to govern ourselves. The superstructure of the modern state is disconnected from our ancient national identity.
To break free from the shackles we have worn, we need to first align the three Shaktis in our public institutions and then activate it. To align the three Shaktis, the first step would be to ground the vision and missions of our public institutions in our civilizational worldview. The precursor to this step would be to build a consensus on the centrality of Indian civilizational identity in our national life. Once we align our missions we need to rekindle the Shaktis by infusing these institutions with talent that is self-aware and civilizationally-assured. This is a long term objective and these steps have to be iterative and not linear. Achieving this goal is in essence the mission of Rashtram.
This is a lofty mission. Achieving this goal – building a national consensus, aligning the vision and missions of our public institutions and then activating the Shaktis resident in them – will take a few decades to show results. Rashtram has been established with this long term mission in mind. Our intent is to build an enduring institution that can play a role in this transformation. Individually we may not be alive to see the full consequences of our actions, but we hope that Rashtram will be an active participant in this historical renaissance.
Om Tat Sat
Rashtram School of Public Leadership