Lord Macaulay in 1735 had spoken in the British Parliament and said, “The only way to rule India is to make the men there feel inadequate”, he said and truly so, that unless he feels that what he has is lesser than what others have, you will not be able to rule him. And within a very short period they proved themselves right.
The rural India today is feeling inadequate, they are feeling like they’re not even part of our country. And what happens with that is they start then looking at opportunities in villages and saying better education, better health, better lifestyle and no humility for not having performed the funeral properly, they decide to give up who they are and move to the cities.
And who they are is what is more important for us to understand. Who they are, are actually the timekeepers and the bookkeepers of our deep-rooted traditional culture and stories.
You know, you should see how tradition and culture flourishes in a happy village in India. We don’t have psychiatrist as a big fashion thing in India and they still manage to maintain a great level of sanity.
You know, there’s a great phrase from the poem, ‘If’ by Rudyard Kipling where it says, ‘Dream but not make dreams your master; think but not make thoughts your aim; meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two Impostors just the same.’ It’s very easy to say it but how do you treat those two Impostors just the same? The answer lies in the tradition and the culture and the books and the epics that are so prominent and predominant in our country – The Bhagavad Gita, the Koran, the interpretation of that in the subcontinent, the Bible, the Guru Granth Sahib, the Granny stories, and you know how to handle the diversities and the setbacks and you’re able to sit back, assemble — reassemble yourself, come back and fight with the same glory again.
And we don’t give him — when you don’t give a villager that, you’re depriving him, we’re depriving ourselves of what I think is one of the most important survival tools in today’s world, which is the culture and tradition.
So I dream of a 2030 where rural India is as developed as the rest of the world, is as aspirational as the rest of India and where the villager is providedg with the same opportunities as it is available in the cities. And after a hard day’s work, a villager is actually able to come back, sit down, have a drink, put his feet up and start thinking about art and culture and poetry.
That would be a dream that I have for 2030 — a practical dream that I have for 2030.
And the dreams that your parents and my parents had when we were in college — urban middle class – where everything revolved around the boy, studying hard, getting into a technical college of a repute and then getting into a reputed managements college and finally the green card.
And if it was the girl, then it was a spouse with a green card. I dream of a 2030 where students the world over will dream of a blue card, will dream of having once actually come to India and study and imbibe the knowledge that we have as a nation.
It used to be true: we were the first university in the world – Nalanda was the university where people came in from far and wide. So it’s not a pipe dream, it’s a practical dream that I have, and I think that’s easily, easily attainable.
And finally, before I wind up, I think, I’ll dream of a 2030 where we have a meritocratic electoral base which selects its leaders and whose leaders believe that it is more important to serve — with a missionary zeal to serve the nation rather than rule it.
You know, there is another stanza from the same poem which says that, if they have the ability to talk to the crowds yet keep your virtue, walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch, if neither good friends nor foes can hurt you, yet all men count with you but none too much — if only the politicians understood the gist of that line, we would have a progressive country by 2030 where we’ll all be proud of not just the way the country is running but also proud about our politicians.
And finally, you know, I’m an actor and the dream that I have for myself is that in 2030 I’m as relevant and as handsome hopefully but if age was to catch up, then they probably would have mapped my face by then and use technology to make me look as young or old, as the role desired me to look, and I’m still able to romance the pretty young things that would be part of the industry in 2030.
I see that’s got many guys going ham.
And finally as an actor, I’m used and prone to dialogues, I love to speak dialogues, and I recently found a line that blew me apart and I thought it was a phenomenal Hindi film dialogue, where this great gentleman has said, “That whatever I am today and all the achievements that have been – that has been possible by me and what will eventually also be possible by me in the near future are all because of my angel mother.” Do you know who said that? You know who said that? Shockingly Abraham Lincoln!
So I dream of a 2030 where every Indian says the exact same thing about his mother and not just about his mother but also about his motherland – and also for the sake of posterity about his mother-in-law.