By Swami Abhayananda Tirtha

It’s a common sight on roadside pavements of Mumbai to see a beverage selling cart display attractive bottles with oozing juices and other liquids; all lined up in dozens of colourful bottles. The cart seller however makes a humble living by selling cheap lemonade. The coloured bottles are to get the prospective customers’ saliva dripping. One wouldn’t dare to drink the ‘juices’ contained in the bottles for most of them are dubious and even hazardous.

That is also the story of the rich and the beautiful economies. For decades Greece has been guilty of free-spending, running up debt equal to 115 percent of GDP. However the government showed an all’s well and flourishing economy on the report card. The wobbling cart of growth fooled many to believe the country was prosperous. Time has revealed the misleading and dangerous pretence of showing up statistics that wasn’t for real. Finally the bubble burst when news surfaced that Greece had been concealing the true state of its finances. 

Too many had consumed the statistics dished out from these ‘show bottle’ parameters of stock markets, GDP rates and other yardsticks created through the crafty word jugglery of the finance bigwigs. Now the other countries are showing camaraderie by bailing out Greece through a whooping aid package totalling 110 billion Euros. Leaders from the euro zone countries pledged to take steps to help their brother Greece, but the motivation is more of a fear rather than service. In an emergency meeting the top leaders of 16 European countries launched special measures to prevent the crisis from spreading to Spain, Portugal and other countries in Europe. Fear is driving stocks worldwide to plunge as the earlier $140 billion bailout has so far failed to contain the debt crisis. Fear is looming large on the faces of all- aren’t the other European economies also weak and will this drive the global economy back to recession?

And how do the leaders react to the crisis? Finance minister, George Papaconstantinou is calling upon every Greek to make great sacrifices to avoid disaster. The austerity measures have few takers among the common men in Greece for they cry foul at the measures which hit the poor. While the affluent few do not pay a price for the austerities, the masses get poorer by the day and are ready to take to the streets. Already angry protesters are running riot and more trouble is expected.

The world has repeatedly seen such exploitation and abuse of the billions by handful politicians. These sinister leaders masquerade as ‘all knowing’ welfare workers of humanity. Leaders’ abuse of power is all too common stories in most economies. History won’t forget for a long time the dangers of corrupt leadership of the Czars in Russia, Imelda Marcos of Philippines or idi Amin of Uganda. Imelda is remembered for the corrupt extravagance of having over 3000 shoes. Idi Amin’s rule in Uganda was characterized by human rights abuses, political repression, ethnic persecution, extrajudicial killings, nepotism, corruption and gross economic mismanagement. Thenumber of people killed as a result of his regime is estimated by international observers and human rights groups to range from 100,000 to 500,000.

The leaders being chosen for running a country should be selected first on the basis of spiritual integrity. When all go-getters and greedy men come together, strife is unavoidable for each one seeks to maximize his gains, irrespective of how others live or die. Therefore it’s important for leaders to be trained in spiritual principles of service, benevolence and sacrifice. Unfortunately, external and superficial criterion and competence becomes more attractive and a paramount factor in selection of leaders. Although competence is needed for managing economies, the strength of the character of leaders is more important. Leadership is the job of visionaries rich in integrity first.

Sometimes in democratic India people are elected to top posts based on their looks or histrionic abilities in movies. It’s like the passengers in a plane democratically electing and deciding to make the fellow passenger- a rock star or a cricket player- the pilot, for all love him and he’s cute or ‘sweet’. Running a plane requires the pilot to be competent in flight skills and he or she needs to be certified by a board and authority to fly a plane. Our whims and fancies can’t make a person determine our lives and our future. Similarly a president or prime minister of the country should be a person who leads a pure life based on service, high moral fortitude and austerities. Most modern leaders in India are swimming in excesses- their indulgences and morally corrupt value systems are destroying the very fabric of the country. But they do give attractive speeches, charm the millions with their populist measures and ‘show bottle’ promises. The millions too, uneducated in spiritual principles dig their own grave by selecting a spiritually unqualified person as their leader.

It’s time to wake up and let a board of spiritually upright men and women choose a ‘pilot’ for the flight of our country… before it’s too late.

References:
1. Free Press Journal (3rd May’ 2010)
2. Times of India (9th May’ 2010)

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