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(On 2nd February 2013, Volunteer for a Better India, an initiative of the Art of Living, held a National Youth Summit in New Delhi, India. The Premise for the Summit is sensitization of the young leaders under the overarching spirit of human values to address issues relating to HIV and AIDS,the Declining Child Sex-Ratio,Sexual-Reproductive Health and Rights, Drugs & Alcohol, Corruption, Millennium Development Goals, Safety for Girls and Entrepreneurial Opportunities. Below is a transcript of H. H. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's speech at the event.)
(Sri Sri begins to speak to thundering applause)
Wow! You are all pretty wired up. This is very rare to see, especially in a conference. After 2-3 hours of a workshops, usually people are half asleep, or are looking here and there. And here I see such vibrancy. This is unique!
I’m amidst a very illustrious panel here; people on the dais, and of course the audience. What we need to do, is discuss how we can have a better India, and the action we need to take for it. Together, all of us can make a change. Mainly because we have started the change first within ourselves, that we want to see in the world. We are finding the peace, the strength and commitment first within ourselves. And so we are sure to bring it to the society around us. Now, what we need to think is, how we can multiply this? How we can reach out to all other youths? This is the challenge that we need to look into.
All these burning issues that have taken and discussed (AIDs, female feticide, drugs and alcohol menace, corruption, female safety, rural development, etc.) need to be addressed as a whole.
Many people will say, ‘Chalta hain (let it be), anyways what can you do?’
There will be an effort to put down your enthusiasm. When you go with an idea, a dream, there will be many who want to pour cold water over your enthusiasm. How many of you have experienced this? The challenge is to face this and keep up your enthusiasm. And if you keep your enthusiasm, it slowly percolates to others. People catch onto it.
We are covering issues across rural and urban areas.
Do you know how the food we eat has so much poison in it? We need to, and we can improve our food production.
There is a saying, ‘Jaisa Ann Waisa Mann’ (You are what you eat). All changes have to start with yourself. There are so many toxic elements in food which affects our brains, our studies and our moods. It affects our life and behavior.
Same with alcohol. People who are drunk can commit any crime as they are not in their senses. Nobody is talking about this, but we are talking of punishing people who commit crimes.
I am just returning from a visit to Tihar jail. We started a skills development center there. The people there are like you and me. Somehow in the spur of the moment, they lost their senses in a fit of anger. They lost sense of what is right and what is not, and they committed a crime. Some of them were under the influence of intoxicants and did such heinous crimes, which they now regret. Now, after they have experienced meditation, they have a different outlook towards life. They are completely transformed. Their enthusiasm was amazing. They were wearing Volunteer for Better India t-shirts, and they wanted to volunteer and do social service. They want to combat menaces like violence against women and children, and other types of crime.
We can put an end to these issues, only if awareness is kindled, because inside every human being there is a beautiful soul, a beautiful being; there is a beautiful mind. This mind just needs a little washing. Not brain-washing, but mind washing.
We can build a better, safer and a beautiful society. We can build a vibrant and productive society. There are many people are un-productive.
I am so happy that all of you are working in small groups and are conducting workshops. These workshops will have to translate into action. Think about it.
I will end with a small story.
A villager complained that he was having a head-ache, and so he asked his friend, ‘What should I do?’
His friend told him, ‘Just drink some alcohol.’
He was surprised. He said, ‘If I drink alcohol, my headache will go?’
He friend said, ‘Why will it not go? My land went, my job went, and my wife’s jewelry has also gone. Everything has gone with alcohol, a headache is no big deal!’
So, in life, no matter what we lose, we should never lose our enthusiasm.
Don’t lose your enthusiasm, and all the best to all of you.