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When we celebrate Independence Day on 15th August every year, we must feel proud of the way India achieved her Independence. The story of how she attained Independence is an epic in itself, revolving around Sacrifice, Service, and a Passion for Change. An example of what non-violence, Ahimsa, can do even in a world plunged by death and destruction.

No doubt, India has made huge strides since 1947. It is now one the world’s fastest growing economies. India’s value as a giant reservoir of talent is acknowledged world over. However, are we really free?

All peoples deserve freedom. Yet, freedom is not just political. Real freedom is freedom from poverty, illiteracy, diseases, addictions, environmental pollutions, terror, crime, corruption and discriminations.

From Independence to Interdependence

In today’s world, political freedom doesn’t translate into financial independence. The order of the day has changed to all interdependent. Today’s independence is only through realizing we are interdependent. Finding unity in diversity and moving together is the way ahead with the realization that the world is one. Political borders divide us, but when the borders in our hearts melt, the entire world will attain real freedom – freedom from war, terror, poverty and prejudices.

We depend on other for almost everything. In the outside world, it is not possible to gain complete individual independence. But internally we can feel a sense of independence, at the level of thoughts, feelings and emotion.

To usher in real freedom, we need to take a multi-pronged approach. All facets of our social, political and spiritual systems need to be addressed.

Give Them a Dream

It is important to raise the self-esteem of our youth. Of course, we need to empower them financially, but at the same time we have to give them a vision. People who have a vision or a dream usually do a lot to develop their societies. A person becomes motivated to do something, either to fulfill a need or to realize a dream. Our youth should have a dream, a strong vision about the country, the state, or the village. We must educate them, skill them, enable them to build their futures and realize their dreams.

Beyond Business

People in business have a dual role to play in society, like the Sun drawing water from the earth and giving it back in the form of rain. They are dependent on society and society expects something in return. They must devote some money, some energy in empowering the societies where they operate. They will have to take on social responsibility. This is what I call socializing business.

Ethical and holistic ways of doing business will bring about trust, boosting productivity, and ultimately growth.

Show Them a New High

Drug abuse and alcoholism are two of the major problems the country faces. They not only ruin human lives, but also degrade a country, a civilization. Alcoholism is a key factor for poverty in India, as most of earnings are spent on buying liquor. It also renders many unproductive. It’s also the source of many heinous crimes in the country. From Nirbhaya episode to many other crimes are committed under influence of alcohol!

Spirituality and education are two powerful tools that can change the world. Spiritual values will make our youth see a bigger meaning of life and seek for alternative kicks in life!

The Happiness Equation

We have to create a better planet and better society for our children and future generations, and leave this planet in a more prosperous state than it is right now.

We should not leave behind a society that is suffering from fear, injustice and corruption. We have to take the responsibility for a strong, self-reliant world.

The time has come for us to wake up and take responsibility. Take out one hour every day for your society, your country, starting today. If you are busy on weekdays, take out time on the weekends. Dedicate time for society. It will not only do a lot of good for society, but also give you a source of inner joy, unlimited happiness!

We can really be free when only when we have a progressive society and everyone is happy! That’s why we invoke the ancient prayer Loka Samastha Sukhina Bhavantu (May everyone be happy).

It’s time we go back to the ideals that brought us freedom and usher in real freedom! Let’s reignite in ourselves the values of Sacrifice, Service, Ahimsa and a Passion for Change!

-- By Sri Sri Ravi ShankarSri Sri Ravi Shankar

The Art of Living, The International Association for Human Values, World Forum for Ethics in Business
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