Modeling Leadership – 11 Jan


There was a change in routine for the day as the padyatrees went on a sightseeing tour through this part of scenic Chindwara district at the border of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. The sightseeing was an enriching experience as they visited temples, a waterfall at a spot considered holy, a small handloom production unit and picked oranges in an orchard.

The first stop was at a small village, Ghogra to visit the Shiva temple. The temple located at the top of a small hill, and almost every isolated hill top has a temple in India, looked steeped in history with a heavy tribal influence. However, it was the Ghogra waterfall at the foothills considered holy that attracted the yatrees first. Devotees come here at least once a year to wash their sins and purify their bodies.

With the father Shiva around, Ganesha, his son can’t be far away and so it was that the next stop turned out to be that of a Ganesha temple. The team headed to Pipla village where the director of a cooperative bank has invited the padyatrees for lunch.

The next place saw the team getting an exposure to traditional method of weaving with handlooms at a handicraft outlet. The orange orchard right opposite the handicraft shop proved to be a foraging adventure as invited by the orchard owner, the padyatrees enjoyed gathering and picking the fruit.

In the evening the team gathered to speak of their experiences during the walk through Madhya Pradesh, this being the last day in the state. The padyatrees thanked the Madhya Pradesh government, particularly Surendra ji for all the arrangements and the locals for their support in taking care of the padyatrees. Individual padyatrees spoke of their experience of walking through the state and thanked Surendra ji and others present there for their support and the way they had taken care of the walkers.
A group of local people spoke of their struggle to kick the habit of alcohol. With the help of Alcohol Anonymous, they had been successful in their goal of no alcohol completing exactly one year the next day. They said they were able to do it taking the challenge of abstinence on a day by day basis.
Modeling Leadership

One of the aims of this walk is modeling leadership and creating agents of change. In this section we concentrate on Jai Jagat’s vision of leadership.

The political culture today is highly oriented towards talks without action. It is considered normal for politicians to make promises in their manifestos only to leave them unaddressed when in power. Speeches are a dime a dozen having lost any ethical ground or the force of truth. True leadership has nothing to do with speeches. What makes a true leader are one’s actions. Indeed, it holds true for each individual for more than speech, it is the actions of a person which reveals one’s true intent.

Rajagopal P.V. spoke of modeling leadership while thanking the administration and state government representatives who had been instrumental in taking care of the padyatrees. A model leader for him means someone who is action oriented and embodies simplicity and humility, one of the basic Gandhian value. For, a leader in a democratic system is somebody who works for the betterment of the people, the locality and the society.

However, the current leadership model particularly in the culture of today’s political discourse has alienated honest and sincere people from participating in politics. It discourages young people to come forward to make a positive change through participation in political practices. Young people invariably ask, where is Gandhi or somebody who lives and practices his values in the political landscape of the country, and this can be extended to a global context.

Morality and ethics seem divorced from the bodies of leadership. True transformation occurs when the economic, social and spiritual aspects of a people are addressed. And that requires dedication for the cause rather than greed for power. Let’s take the example of Gandhi who was trying to bridge the communal differences in the aftermath of partition at the time of independence when the while country was indulging in widespread celebration.
In fact, shortly after independence, Gandhi advised the Congress to dissemble saying that each member should go back to their respective village and work for the upliftment of the people there at the grassroots for he probably foresaw what direction the political class is going to take. Over the years, his vision has only been proved right with the current political model rooted in violence, dividing people and making empty promises. The only cause that seems to matter is power; power at any cost.

Jai Jagat envisions a leadership that takes the path of nonviolence and is intended for the well-being of all people as opposed to the politics of appeasement of particular groups. It also actively encourages women, particularly women from rural and tribal communities to take leadership roles. The yatra has this dual role of during Gandhi’s message and at the same time building role models of nonviolent leadership. Men have been too entrenched in masculinity which is wrongly equated with muscles. This engendering of violence has resulted in most of the evils that pervades the society today. In the group of the padyatrees there is a fair representation of tribal and rural women leaders as well as young people who are getting trained in nonviolence and are in their way to whether as model leaders of tomorrow.

Today, nonviolence or ahimsa is ridiculed. This can only be reversed by providing a model of successful nonviolence. Today’s culture is geared to show strength by the path of violence. Violence is easy for one only had to follow others but it takes patience, character and strong resolve to listen to one’s own nature to practice Ahimsa.

A teacher of history once questioned Gandhi on nonviolence condemning him for wrong teaching for in history all revolutions come through violence. Gandhi replied, you tesch history but I make history. So we need to make ahimsa powerful and that’s how we need to take this message of nonviolence to Geneva.