THE PM KNOWS HE IS A SERVANT
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s maiden Independence Day speech from the ramparts of Red Fort was a departure from earlier speeches by earlier prime ministers on many counts. However, from a philosophical viewpoint, him saying, ‘Mein pradhan mantri nahin, pradhan sevak hoon’ -- ‘I am not prime minister; I am first servant’ could restore to public memory, the true place of elected representatives, as servants of the people who have chosen them to act on their behalf. Gandhiji was the one who first said, ‘President means Chief Servant’. And in the 1970s, Robert Greenleaf, with his book on servant leadership, brought the issue of good leadership back into public discourse.
Clearly, those in governance are not meant to ride roughshod over people and exploit them for their own personal beliefs and ends or exult in the power that such positions bring, or see it as one more accomplishment to include in a CV, memoir or biography. Leaders are meant to take their responsibilities seriously, whether the position has come through popular mandate or nomination. In a democracy, the keyword is ‘service’ just as seva or service is an integral part of any spiritual seeker’s path to salvation.
“I’m not here to rule; I’m here to serve,” said Modi, implying that he is different. If you have doubts, he would articulate that fact, to convince you. “I came here all prepared to criticise Modi’s speech,” confessed M K Gandhi’s grandson Tushar Gandhi to the moderator on a TV show that was analysing the I-Day speech. “But I can’t find fault with the speech!” Most Modi bashers – and those who Modi refers to as the ‘elite who hate me’ – might be upset that Modi’s speech presented him as a Mr Goody Two-Shoes, with a fabulous Humility Quotient full of good intentions.
Sages have advised seekers that when you lack a certain virtue, try, try and succeed. In the beginning, if you don’t feel humble but wish to become humble, then try faking humility. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says, “If you can’t make it, fake it!” The idea is that with repeated auto-suggestion, you begin to acquire the virtue over time, and lo and behold, one day you are that humble person you have been trying to be. Humility is perhaps among the most difficult virtues to cultivate or acquire at a time when everything is so focused on satiation of the individual’s wants or wishes. And hence the aggressive attitude we see all around us.
If you think it is aggression at work, relationships and markets, that makes things work, it is a skewed view. You could be soft-spoken and open and yet achieve results without getting trodden all over, if only you allow the spirit of service to stay topmost in whatever you do. As Krishna points out in the Gita, Do your duty without an eye on the fruits of your action. Good thoughts and work are bound to produce good results.
Even business models are now being constructed with humility included as a parameter for good leadership; it is no longer considered a sign of low self-esteem or poor confidence. Dada J P Vaswani points out that humility is an attitude which allows for others’ greatness, and thus helps the manager create the right perspective which enables him – not just to manage, direct and order people – but to help them discover their best potential, by helping them to transform themselves.
1. Wide and protective walls of a fort are called:
2. A long and serious discussion is called:
3. The opposite of the word ‘common’ is:
4. Synonym for ‘saints and wisemen’ is: