28/08/2015 8:19 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST

Why Fear Is The Root Cause Of India's Problems

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Yuji Sakai via Getty Images
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We just celebrated our 69th Independence Day. Besides hearing the speeches of our political leaders, this day is also an occasion to remember the great sacrifices that lakhs of Indians made in the 1940s to throw off the yoke of British rule and give us an independent and democratic India.

Yet in the last few weeks we have seen the mockery made of Indian democracy and the degeneration of Parliamentary ethics. The shocking tableau that played out in the guise of "disruptive" politics painted a dark picture of how low our polity has sunk, populated by so-called leaders whose lust for power is matched only by their indifference, even aversion, to actual governance. They are willing to sabotage the democratic process to meet their objectives. What can we do about such morally corrupt politicians? Here, I will attempt to answer that question.

My father, who went to jail for two-and-a-half years in 1942 for his role in the independence movement, told me that the greatest gift that Gandhiji gave to all Indians (besides independence) was to rid them of their fear of Englishmen. This removal of fear brought in a quantum jump in the mindset of Indians and made them aware that they could manage their own affairs with their own people. The removal of fear, I continue to believe, was the single most important factor that got us rid of our foreign rulers.

"The fear of missing out and insecurity over the future is what produces greed and in turn corruption and corrupt politicians. These corrupt politicians then hijack the agenda of India and democracy..."

Yet 69 years after independence we as a nation are paralysed by fear again. Fear of losing out, fear of not having enough, fear of things we can't even quite name.

We should therefore resolve and pledge to remove fear from our psyche because it is this which leads to insecurity and ultimately to greed. And the sorry spectacle of non-governance that we see in Indian politicians is because of their greed and selfishness, which ultimately leads to corruption.

Fear comes from insecurity, which is an outcome of a brain which cannot resolve issues after taking into account all eventualities. This inability to evaluate all outcomes transcends caste, creed or economic situations. Thus most people, no matter whether rich or poor, suffer from insecurities - for the poor it's insecurity about their future, while the rich are concerned with preserving and multiplying their wealth.

So how should we tackle our insecurities? One way to do this is to make our mind stronger. Yoga helps developing such a brain through meditation and focus on a single thought for a long time -- called Sanyam by Sage Patanjali.

Another way to get rid of fear is to be thankful for whatever we have and count our blessings. If we do that continuously then it gives us a sense of contentment and happiness since our burdens and insecurities are reduced by the thought that somebody will be there to help us and everything will be OK. This also has the ability to sublimate the greed impulse.

The removal of fear should start from childhood. Children are most vulnerable mentally and they are the ones who are beaten or scolded by the parents for the slightest mistake. All our schooling is based on strict regimentation and expectations of success - or else. The fear of failure becomes so ingrained that sometimes children commit suicide if they fail a test. All this creates a fearful mindset, the breeding ground for insecurities. To allay their fears, they set about trying to amass as much wealth as they can, by whichever means.

I also feel that the fear of missing out and the insecurity over the future is what produces greed and in turn corruption and corrupt politicians. These corrupt politicians then hijack the agenda of India and democracy for their selfish reasons.

So on the next Independence or Republic Day let us swear and pledge that we will rid ourselves of fear - for the sake of our country.

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