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Learning Lessons

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What are the lessons Indians must learn from the Ukraine crisis? An obvious one is that caste, community and regional identity do not matter when caught in a situation like that of the students stranded in that country. But national identity does! Whether travelling out with the Indian flag on the bus; or facing resentment from locals because of India’s stand in the UN, that is the recognition one gets. Nor is the pilot and airline staff coming to rescue you, or those representing the government or the embassy, have a caste or creed that makes a difference.

So, it makes sense to understand this essential truth when making choices, whether they are political or social ones. For India to be available in times of emergency, this understanding has to be inculcated as early as possible in life and practiced at every level. It also needs to be understood that national identity is not the final one – fundamentally, all are earthlings, ‘jeevatmas’. There are Indians in Ukraine who are not leaving because they feel obliged to stand by their hosts, or the one who is not leaving without his dog. This attitude is also essential to being Indian – Yudhisthira did the same when refused entry into ‘Swarg’ along with his canine companion.

Then there is the issue of choosing leaders – the wrong choice can cost plenty. Those who rise to power on negative platforms are very likely to descend to nightmarish levels in the attempt to hold on to power. People should thus watch leaders’ performance at every stage of their advancement and only allow those with a good record to rise to higher positions. In India’s layered democracy, this is theoretically easy to do, except when the process is short-circuited by the privilege of birth, or other kinds of illegitimate clout.

As everybody is involved in the act of choosing leaders by casting the vote, it is the duty of all to be clued into issues beyond just one’s immediate concerns. One should have a sense of what policies are beneficial, what is good for the country in terms of the economy, law and order, defence, international relations. There are some basic issues on which all should be united. The attitude of politicians during times of national crisis reveals their truth – some put nation first, others take it as an opportunity to play politics. The people should learn to make the distinction.