True strength needs humility

(This article was posted in the ?Meditations? column of the Hindustan Times on 2 December 2002.) BILL GATES is investing two thousand crore rupees (US$400 million) in India over the next three years, his foundation announced last month. The money is for ?boosting education, business partnerships, and software development.? This marks one of his largest outlays ever outside the US. Flashback to an ancient parable, sometimes referred to as andhapangu-nyaya or ?the logic of the lame and the blind.? The story is about a lame man who has keen eyesight, but can?t walk, and a strong man who is blind. Individually they are very limited. But when the lame person climbs on the shoulders of the sightless one, they function as a unit, and by cooperating achieve many wonderful things. That?s the fable. With a minor stretch of imagination we might think of India — metaphorically, of course — as the visionary but economically weaker country, and the US — as a culturally blind but financially strong nation, temporary as these designations are. And lest we forget, it is often repeated that ?poverty is the wealth of the Brahmin.? Co-operation is the key. If there is to be such a thing as a worldwide ?human family,? working together for the common good has to be more than mere formality. Carrying each other?s burdens is part of love. The ability to trust comes from practical experience, and from being trusted. There are no shortcuts. Another tune-honoured phrase is Bhava-grahi janardana. This refers to accepting another?s good intentions and presuming that his or her faults will be overcome in the end. It also means combining abilities and working as a team. Maybe this is overly optimistic and part of the world-through-rose-coloured-spectacles syndrome, but if reality checks are on board, then we can risk such leaps of faith. Gates? investment in this country can be seen, among other things, as a significant gesture toward harmonising the world?s two largest democracies. Leaders of nations can make a conscious effort to work together, or at least encourage their respective entrepreneurs to do so. Integrating the wealth of India?s culture with the strength of American technological progress can benefit millions. As the eternal children of a very rich Father, our horizons are virtually unlimited. (The writer is emeritus member of the ISKCON Governing Body Commission.)