A Strong India Can Bless The World
Posted by Barry Pittard on June 21, 2008
In my years in India, I saw at close hand the work of one talented and highly motivated Indian group with which I did volunteer social work, attaining that deep wish fired ever since I was 16, when I became deeply inspired by the life of Mahatma Gandhi.
The founder of the work (who sought no name and fame, so I forbear to mention his name) refused to be at the behest of foreign money, even though he was mentor to the son of one of the wealthiest men in America. This stance threw the emphasis on cross-community engagement and responsibility. One could see close up how Indians from various religious and cultural backgrounds (e.g., Hindu, Moslem, Sikh, Parsee, Jain, Christian, etc.) worked extraordinarily well together.
One could see how, abroad, an often false picture of animosity between faiths is often generated of India. I felt deeply honored to be permitted a small role in this social work, and, every now and then, became aware that other Indian Non Government Organizations were doing fine work. Receiving extraordinary kindness wherever I traveled, I experienced how so many Indians from a great array of backgrounds truly practise their time-honored notion that ‘guest is God’. When I was ill on a number of occasions, I experienced bountiful kindness and care of Indian people from various backgrounds, which at least twice saved my life. On one occasion, I was about to be killed by religious extremists (the broad knife was already unsheathed), who very mistakenly thought that I must be a Christian missionary, and the courage and quick-thinking of Indian citizens nearby saved my life. I was in India when riots broke out and heard, very movingly, that there were countless instances of Hindus risking their lives to shelter their Muslim neighbors from peril from a minority of fanatics. The frequent great friendships between those of differing belief systems in India should be far more extensively reported to the world.
The great social evils endemic in India, many of them profoundly related to the evils of British empire, should not be allowed to obscure her great positives.