The power of your vote

2009.04.27

H.H. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar walks the talk by casting his vote at the recent elections in Karnataka, India - April 23, 2009

India's problems are complex. And unfortunately these are compounded by vote-bank politics. Instead of uniting the different sections of society, many politicians divide it to keep their vote banks intact. If people are united, politicians won't be able to get votes through divisive politics. In such a situation, the only way for them to win votes would be through good performance.
As citizens, we must protect our country from those who manipulate issues for their personal gains and who lead by playing vote-bank politics. Those with vested interests support insensible decisions and oppose sensible ones. We have to steer clear of such leaders. We must encourage broad-minded politicians and leaders to come forward and take charge, and to educate and uplift the society - spiritually, morally and socially.
We need leaders who are satya-darshi (truthful), sam-darshi (equanimous), priya-darshi (pleasant), paar-darshi (transparent) and door-darshi (visionary). So, before we elect our leaders, we should examine their qualifications.
We must elect leaders who will do away with policies based on caste, creed, religion and region; who will ensure that every child gets a multi-cultural, multi-dimensional education.
We need leadership with a mission and a vision, leadership with a spirit of sacrifice, compassion and commitment. We must choose leaders who have a long-term vision and short-term plans to achieve it. They should have great personal integrity, and place the country before themselves.
Unfortunately, most of our politicians lack a sense of sacrifice and inclusiveness. Irrespective of the party they belong to, people perceive politicians as insincere. Today, people are fed up of them. This is when apathy sets in among people. They dismiss politics as a whole and withdraw from their basic duty of voting.
Our votes are an important tool to bring about a change in the system; they give us an opportunity to raise our voice against injustice. But many of us have developed a chalta hai attitude, because we fail to see the power of our votes. This attitude is dangerous for the country. By not voting we are encouraging the status quo.
Each one of us must not only vote but also encourage others around us to vote. When good, intelligent and well-educated people don't vote, they play into the hands of politicians, who use money and vote bank politics to seize power. People should not lose hope. Good politicians exist. And they must be given a chance to do the best they can for the country, for its people.
We have seen the shortcomings of capitalism, communism and socialism. Now is the time for humanism and spiritualism. Politics without humanism and spiritualism is bound to be dirty. Many people believe that spiritualism is not for this world, that it is not a practical tool to bring about societal transformation. But that's a misconception. Mahatma Gandhi was spiritual. He conducted satsangs every day and played an important role in bringing freedom for our country.
That is why today we need leaders who have a spirit of sacrifice, and who are spiritual in their outlook, to enter politics.

{ His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's article was featured on the IBNlive blog on March 30, 2009. }

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