Sri Sri Ravi Shankar:
First of all, let me clarify to you, I don’t have any particular political preference at all. If you ask a newspaper which political party they are aligned to, they would say none, that is, if they are a good, ethical newspaper.
A judge, a spiritual leader, a doctor, a lawyer, a journalist, or a teacher cannot belong to any particular party or ideology. They have to be available for the entire population, otherwise they are not doing justice to the role they play. I believe in this idea – a spiritual leader or a social worker cannot belong to a particular party or ideology.
Having said that, you would ask, 'Why did you stand up against corruption in India?'
Well, I would say, any individual with even a little common sense would not tolerate this – scandals coming up day after day after day. I was not against the ruling party in the past, but I was against the corruption in the past. The corruption had reached the ultimate! Shameless corruption! So I had to stand up and speak against corruption and crime. Don’t you think I should have done that? And that’s all I did. And there was a lethargy and complacence in the people. They believed that everybody is like this, corrupt, so they didn’t want to vote. I said, 'You must vote for a decisive Government. We need a change'.
And I would repeat the same thing if any party did this. I would inspire people to vote; what is wrong in it? We got an award from the Election Commissioner of India and he would not do that if we were partisan.
People sometimes ask me, "Why do some corrupt people come on to your stage when you travel and go for programs? You should keep them away."
I tell them, that would be like opening a hospital and saying that sick people are not allowed in. If these corrupt people don’t come to me, then where can they go? So, I would say, bring all the corrupt people to me and let me talk to them. I would like to have a dialog with them and see whether I am successful. I would like to take a chance. It has worked in the past many a times. I wouldn’t say all the time, but many a times (laughter from the crowd). I would like to keep working on this, so I would like all the corrupt politicians to come to me.
To conclude, let me say this, we need to spiritualize politics. Today, politics has become a business, not a service. It has become a career, not concern for people. If something becomes your career, then that career becomes important and you lose concern for the people of the society. So, if politics has to be compassionate, caring, and genuinely concerned for people, then politicians should be spiritual. Like Mahatma Gandhi or that generation of politics.
Here, in this society too, like Lee Kuan Yew, there were many great leaders. At the start, the leaders put their heart and soul into this country. That is how Singapore could come up. Malaysia thought Singapore would sink – they are totally dependent and they would come back to Malaysia. But no, they stood their ground because of the dedication of political leaders. This is what I mean by we should spiritualize politics.
Politics should not be a business or career, it should be a service to society. Do you agree with me? (huge yes from the crowd)
The second is secularizing religion. Every religious leader should pray for all the people in the world, not just my folks or only for Hindus or Buddhists or Christians or Catholics. This is not good.
Anyone who says, 'Only I will go to heaven and everyone else will go to hell', are dangerous people. They create hell for everyone else. So this is secularizing religion.
And the third point is socialize business. In essence, every businessman should do corporate social work. They should engage in some corporate social responsibility projects. What do you think? Five to ten percent of their earning, they should give back to society. In fact, it is sort of an investment. If there is no buying power in people, you will also go down! Business cannot survive without the buying power of the people. If you impoverish society by doing business through unethical means, soon, you will be doomed.
So secularize religion, spiritualize politics, and socialize business for a better world and a better tomorrow. All the best.