‘Celebrate what’s right with the world’

‘Celebrate what’s right with the world’

I owe the title of this column to Dewitt Jones, a National Geographic photographer. He pursued excellence in the lap of nature and has captured his life’s learnings in a 22-minute video that could serve each one of us well as we enter the New Year.

The trigger for this suggestion is the media’s obsession with Modi-bashing and several drawing-room conversations around what Mr Modi’s govern­ment is not doing. Personally, I find it exhausting to focus on what’s wrong. Given how time flies, there seems to be merit in ‘building stuff’ as opposed to griping about what’s not. As Dewitt Jones says, “If you focus on what’s right, you get the energy to fix what’s wrong.”

Two recent informal conversations were instrumental in cementing my thoughts. One was around the Prime Minister’s ‘impromptu’ stopover in Pakistan. There was intense debate in the group whether it was as spontaneous as was being projected or was it a crafty plan made over a few months. Interestingly, no one asked whether in itself this was a good idea!

The second conversation was a random mix – of expectations and blame – with little context for the role of a Prime Minister (in some instances): for example, deep disquiet around the fact that this government is not doing enough for women’s safety and that there is every chance that they will target women as the next ‘minority community’; no improvement in the economy for mid-sized businesses; the NCERT is changing the course of history; and this government is unravelling the MNREGA, which was Manmohan Singh’s biggest contribution to India.

I was bewildered by the mish-mash being used to paint a bleak picture. While there is reason for disappointment on several scores, there are enough and more things to celebrate. For starters, the vast improvement in India’s position and stature overseas as a result of Mr Modi’s foreign policy. There is an ‘India buzz’ amongst potential investors and is delivering value to businesses that benefit from it. Secondly, the economy has improved. Whether this is due to good luck or good policies is a matter of debate, but what is beyond question is that growth is up, inflation and interest rates are down and the exchange rate has stabilized. Thirdly, it is widely mentioned that there is no evidence of corruption in Mr Modi’s cabinet, which is no mean feat. Finally, there is an effort to energize the business environment through favourable policies. Each of these ‘has not’ delivered the desired results, yet, but the interesting observation is that I haven’t come across someone who is distinctly ‘worse-off’. Nonetheless, the cynicism.

If things are better on some counts, and ‘not better’ on others, there is, on balance, an improvement in the situation. But I find the average mood is reluctant to grant this. Every discussion rapidly becomes about ‘hindutva’ and ‘cultural intolerance’ – often moot to a growth and economy assessment. And then there are demands for proof. Dewitt Jones says, “If I believe it, I see it” as opposed to “If I see it, I believe it”.

Form where we are as a country, to expend time on ‘what’s wrong’ is nothing short of criminal. And therefore I would much rather ‘celebrate what’s right with the world’. That’s me and my optimism. But, what do you think?

Anuradha Das Mathur, Editor, CFO India