Honestly, it did not actually start with a specific search for life vision. But the search indeed led me to my life vision. I guess it started somewhere in 2004. I was a very religious person back then. Being born a Hindu and inculcated with daily ritual of prayers where I used to spend on an average about 3 hours daily in prayers, chanting, meditation etc. One would think this much of religious prayers, chanting and meditations would bring peace and calm in ones mind and life. Alas, I was still searching for something – a guiding light, my north star that would lead me to peace. I didn’t know what but there was something amiss in my life.
I remember going for some idle shopping one lazy winters afternoon over a weekend and chanced upon entering a bookshop in Newbury, Berks where I was living at that time. I was just perusing through book shelves and in the self-help section found the “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Steven Covey. I wasn’t much of a book reader at that time but this book had me hooked – I read each page with particular attention; I highlighted the lines and sections that I liked. By the time I had finished reading this book and spent time mulling over the ideas in the book – I now had a thirst for self-help books. I found the local library and become a regular there with free membership. By the way, local libraries in UK are one of the best things that tax money is well spent on. I was now reading regularly – it was mostly books on self-help.
Then in 2005 while visiting my village in India, I was interacting with the folks in my village and we started discussing the problems. No wonder the problems were and still are endless. This got me thinking as to what ails India. After a lot of thinking over several months I reached the conclusion that what ails India is it’s politics. Though I was sure that this was indeed the case – I still needed to get some further verification. I started talking to a lot of people – friends, family, intellectuals, grassroots activists, acquaintances; I also created a website to gather peoples views on my conclusion that India suffers from it’s politics. To a large extent most of these contacts agreed with my conclusion. Now the big question staring me in the face was – what am I going to do about this?
Once having reached the conclusion that India’s politics needed change – I just couldn’t walk away, I had to do something. As a first step I started educating myself by reading books on leadership and Indian history. At the same time I started talking to few friends of mine in India, UK and USA. I think it was around January 2006 I came in contact with Mr. Sanjeev Sabhlok ji, an ex-IAS (http://www.sabhlokcity.com/). He was godsend – for he was exactly the kind of person I needed for my political journey. As they say, he had “been there and done that” (do read his blog on his political journey). So far, all that I knew was that I was committed to change the politics of India – all that I had at that time was good intention, nothing else. Very soon it dawned on me that good intentions isn’t going to be enough. Sanjeevji guided me to read books/articles on political economy and his own book that he was writing at the time – Breaking Free of Nehru.
Now things were getting clearer for what needed to change in India’s politics – the answer was capitalism. But capitalism is a system but the idea underpinning this system is freedom. Ayn Rand’s books and philosophy opened up my mind to the deeper ideas and workings of freedom. Few other writers whose writings helped was John Stuart Mill, Hayek and Milton Friedman.
Then one fine morning it dawned on me that its Freedom – this is that guiding light, the panacea that I was looking for. When this awakening about freedom came – it was awesome. It still gives me goosebumps. Now it made sense when Nelson Mandela at his trial in 1964 said of freedom “An ideal I am prepared to die for”. I had my life’s vision, my own ideal – in one word: Freedom. How beautiful is that? I could guide my life living by this principle. Not only as the bigger vision of life but also on those day to day difficult decisions when one is in dilemma, just think if the action I take will lead to more freedom or not. The principle applies to my family, friends, society, India, the whole world. No other vision or principle, definitely not religion, can give solution to what ails humanity. Freedom can. Think about it.
The principle of Freedom is what I live for and in Nelson Mandela’s words “An ideal I am prepared to die for”, if things come to that.