Dear Leaders and Members of My Good School,
My school’s motto was: “Youth Shall Rebuild the World.” Our entire education process and curriculum was centered around the thought that learning is a life-long activity and schools must prepare students to be life-long learners. Understandably, the teachers too would teach with a method that nudged curiosity in us and inspired action. Often, the learning was done outside the classroom with well curated,long or short excursions. We had our own student parliament, elected by the students, every year. We fought elections with much fervor and the elected student government was given significant empowerment to decide on school rules, holidays, academics and student festivals and activities.
When at school, India was not some distant idea for us, she was a person, fully present in our lives. We understood our relationship with our country from experiences both academic and otherwise. I think our founder’s vision was to prepare the young to act constructively for society, nation and the world, whenever and however the opportunity presented itself.
What I learnt at school became my talisman in life. I looked at each opportunity professionally or personally to unlearn and learn constantly. Life has now become my school. Therefore in 2014, when I decided to drive across India for 51 days with three friends, there was not much hesitation in my mind and heart. I had done this kind of learning for several years, through travel and meeting people everywhere. What I discovered in those 51 days and also from my travels for over two decades form the beating heart of my first book: “Highway to Swades – Rediscovering India’s Superpowers.”
What Highway to Swades expedition taught me was that our country is full of amazing people and their wonderful stories. Stories of love, harmony, peace, enterprise, nature, creativity, knowledge, commitment, inclusion, heritage, culture, assimilation, individualization, community, wellness, beauty, sacrifice, rituals, food and the arts. I call them India’s superpowers and the book tells stories of Indians from across the country and all walks of life who live and strive for these superpowers.
What writing this book taught me was that we each have our own superpowers and we can call them to action for ourselves, our loved ones and for society at large. One of my superpowers is to listen and the other is to write and therefore I continue to engage with Indians everywhere and of all ages to understand more about who they, what they do, why they do it, what are their aspirations and dreams etc. This gives me immense hope as I think as a people we may be content but at the same time we are ambitious for our future as individuals and as a nation.
It is with this thought, that I want to engage with all of you, to listen more, to have meaningful dialogues and to see if individual or collective action is possible for what we care deeply about.