The 2014 general election taking place in India to constitute the 16th Lok Sabha (the lower house of the Indian Parliament), with a whopping current electoral population of 814.5 million, largest in the world, according to the Election Commission of India, really got me to reflect about my Indian heritage and my American growth.
Being an Indian born American citizen living in the United States for over seventeen years, I find myself in a unique cross-roads- balancing Indian values and seizing the opportunity behind the American freedom, while embracing India’s global leadership simultaneously.
In the usual norm where being a minority may not serve as the most prestigious title, being an Indian minority in the United States of America not only serves as a catalyst for success but also a recipe for strong grounding.
India is currently tantalizing the world in many dimensions- a worthy contender in sports, politics, science, education, commerce and innovation. Having an Indian identity is quite an honor- where people’s expectations of you become high and demanding. While India is climbing the global stairway ardently, it gets me to think how I, as an Indian American, will contribute to the Indian global recognition while adding an American flavor.
India has its historical richness, with its successes in politics, business, arts, religions, economic prosperity; despite Indian challenges on population excesses, diversity of thinking and multi cultural aspirations. India shines because of the fundamentals of cultural greatness which lie in Indian morality and discipline—seen through acts of non violence, tolerance, piety, religious outlook, belief in karma, aspirations for success and respect for the elders. Indian success lasts because of the strong familial connection and commitment of the elders to youth and their achievement. While India has its already strong moral backbone, it concurrently seeks globalization with an ever-prepared attitude for growth in emerging fields and a quest to mimic western cultural greatness, and this balance propelled India for victory in the new era.
As an Indian American, I assume moral responsibility of bringing balance to Indian thinking and aspirations. For that, my task at hand is to connect American societies- change perspective on India, and connect Indians through the self confidence to believing in themselves and cashing on old principles and glories. The key philosophy is to think global but act locally, and this thinking should be brought to India.
For that, immediate solutions should be to apply foreign successes to Indian problems such as over population, environment awareness, self discipline, hygiene, and lack of sensitivity to other cultures. We should help break the stereotypical actions which falsely lead us Indians to close our eyes and follow- where the American way is to embrace the odds and follow our dreams. Fusing American dreams with Indian aspirations will free us from limiting and containing ourselves to certain professions and industries.
As Indians, we have the duty and moral obligation to play an active role in fighting child labor, anti-women growth, child abduction, women abuse and many such ill occurrences. We should resist the goal towards material wealth possession instead gather wealth in harmonious living compatible with nature- which include less consumption, organic farming, water harvest/recycling etc. It’s important for us to resist the love for affluence and consumption, and rather grow love in reaching out and bring balance to this world. We can actively help develop responsible citizens, through partnership and collaboration in higher education, and bring a stepping stone to our brothers and sisters on the other side of the world.
To bring my words to action, and walk the talk, I for my part, will be committing myself to the rural and semi-urban development by engaging in civic engagement activities. Rural and semi-urban healthcare issues- especially women and childcare health are under peril- and are indirectly impeding the growth of the Indian national economy because India still depends on the rural development. For that, I wish to be an activist. Just as America is actively democratizing the world by putting boots on the ground, synonymously, we must make the commitment to become the foot-soldiers. In my case, as a pre-health professional, I must become a foot soldier, step into the heart of India, and make first hand change in healthcare opportunities. We want stethoscopes and gloves on every rural hut, we must attend to every man, woman or child in need of our service. We should share the joy and pain that every human feels and actively shape the well-being of our world.
We are the privileged ones, we have tasted of our success, and now it’s time to break the barrier and give back to the community and the only effective way is to spend at least 10% of our professional time and help the rural population. We must not just visit the urban elite, but step deeper in and aid the rural commoner—where the heart of India lies.
Although I as an Indian American have been raised in America, I still share an Indian lineage and the welfare and growth of India should equally be my concern as is America’s welfare and growth. In that thinking, we as Indian Americans get a unique gift to spread America’s freedom to dream and innovate to our India and its aspirations.
I have dreamed of the day where the entire world is fed, clothed, cared for and is healthy- and now I will make my first step in making that dream a reality. Who is with me?
After all, we are one world; not all that separated.
– Surely, Sherley
Copyright © Sherley J. Edinbarough (Surely, Sherley and/or SurelySherley), 2014.