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Saturday, 9th December 2023


Museums were created when traditional ways of retaining culture broke down, and institutions became necessary to preserve heritage. What I have seen by travelling up and down the country is that the Indian community has been very good and extremely resourceful at preserving their cultural identity and heritage, peacefully and inclusively. I see wisdom in the leadership of Mr. Hasmukh Shah, founder of Sewa International. I see enligtenment in the words of young Indo-Brits like Dipvandana, I see the Brahmakumaris Global Retreat Centre in Oxford (where I am today) as providing a huge beacon of light and hope for the world. Just as Indians have built beautiful temples and community centres all over the country, they are also leading very beautiful lives, inspired by the timeless wisdom of India.

Why is this virtuous leadership by example not noticed by Britain? Why is their creativity not celebrated in the Tate Modern or the National Gallery? Is it really because with the past, we can make our own interpretation and control it, whereas with the present, we have no power over the interpretation? Or is it because the media is so insecure as a profession, that its living gurus are only those who have become rich and famous, or have paper credentials and institutional backing? This insecurity is then spread through the articles that are written and published and the media helps to build an insecure Britain, very uncertain about itself.

As I talk to people, I see their ethics often playing a central role in their lives. Like the accountant Satish Shah, whom I met in Bradford. He spends a lot of time to organise adventure treks in the aid of Sewa International, and in the process, helps people to break their personal barriers and build lasting friendships and communities. For him, selfless service brings the best out of his qualities, and gives him a sense of purpose and focus in life. These are real people making real differences, but rarely will we read about them in the paper.

Also it is clear to me that media today is increasingly getting disconnected from the grassroots. Rarely does it deal with people's practical problems and concerns, nor does it have a clear ethical stance about building an ethical society. For me, the times really call for ethical reform in the media, and a huge investment in the training of editors about diversity and the wisdoms of the world. The Masala Tour and the book which follows will open the eyes of editors to the rich resource of ideas and wisdoms that lie in our shores.

We will be at National Sewa Day in London on Sunday, and look forward to seeing some of you there. Keep up the amazing work.

Article added on 17th November 2010 at 11:59am
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