Thursday, November 15, 2012

Newsday Editorial notes PM's lessons from Hindu teachings

PM Kamla greets an actor portraying the diety Hanuman
COURAGE, commitment and collaboration were the three qualities of leadership singled out by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, based on her study of the saga of the Hindu deity, Hanuman, she told the audience on Monday night at the Divali Nagar, Chaguanas. 

It is quite fascinating and laudable that the leader of Trinidad and Tobago in the 21st century can garner such leadership lessons from ancient Hindu scriptures written 5,000 years ago.

She said Hanuman’s advice to his own leader, Sugriva, has lessons for today’s leaders, in whom we’d prefer to see courage rather than fear. “Fear has no place in the personality and psychological makeup of a leader. A leader who is filled with fear has already lost the battle.”

We were glad to hear Persad-Bissessar’s own assurance that she would do her job without being afraid. “I want to assure you that, as your Prime Minister, I will go about my duties without fear,” she said. “I am not easily driven to be fearful. 
I might be cautious, as I need to be, but I am not afraid to treat with the challenges that confront this nation, its peoples and its principles.” 

While there may be all sorts of forces and potential forces buffeting this nation, we’d like to encourage all of our leaders to act without fear, especially our nation’s top office-holders.

The second leadership quality stated by the Prime Minister based on the Hanuman story was a humble commitment to duty, largely based on belief in the divine.

“Hanuman knew, and we must all know, that whatever power we have, or position, or status, or skill, they have been gifted to us by God and we should use such power and position for the good of humankind.”

Persad-Bissessar urged listeners to put God in front, and then follow.
Thirdly, she used the Hanuman story to make a case for a leader to be ready to collaborate with others in seeking their goals, in an unstated, but probable reference to the ruling coalition that is the People’s Partnership (PP).

“The first lesson for me is that the ability to succeed depends on the extent to which we can complement each other’s skills in order to be victorious.”
In Vedic texts, Sugriva cooperated with Ram to help rescue the latter’s abducted wife, Sita, in return for Ram helping Sugriva regain his kingdom.

“There is always strength in a partnership. It will take patience, a spirit of give and take, as well as the ability to create an environment of mutual respect to develop and sustain healthy and positive alliances,” remarked Persad-Bissessar. 

“However, in multicultural, multi religious, and multi ethnic societies, like ours, partnerships, in my respectful view, comprise the best formula for peace and for both individual and our nation’s success.” Time will tell how well coalitions are able to endure, as is now being spoken of even by the Opposition PNM, ditching its traditional mantra of “we fight alone.”

Persad-Bissessar spoke of other leadership attributes, such as her goal of always seeking the happiness of the people.

“This has always been my mission and I want to assure you that in everything I do as Prime Minister, I ask myself, ‘will this action or decision of mine result in greater happiness for the citizens of this country?’,” she said. “I know that not everyone will be happy with every decision I make. However, I am always guided by the public good.” She urged listeners to practice tolerance in their daily lives.

“To receive love one must first give love. Our lives will be much more fulfilling if we make that special effort to give love to those who we encounter on a daily basis,” said Persad-Bissessar. 

“I sincerely believe that this is a nation filled with love. It is demonstrated every day in the myriad of personal and communal acts of charity and care; of volunteerism and of self-sacrifice.”

She concluded, “I praise you today for embracing all without hate, malice or recrimination.”

All in all, wise words.

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai