Sports helped me understand the inherent potential of a human being. Sports is the simplest and yet, the most effective tool for social transformation. Sports works at many levels — mind, body and soul. A healthy body harbours a healthy mind. A robust sporting culture is a must in healthy society because it inculcates and infuses the sense of fair play. It is a great equaliser. Sports is, and should be where it isn’t, an essential part of education, as it ensures legitimate and just engagement of people from all walks of life unrestrained by the barriers of caste, creed or gender. The greatness of a nation, region or a city can be judged by its sporting acumen. I see sports as a great instrument to bring about social transformation for the better. I plan to use sports as a policy initiative in various situations and places, be it the conflict zone or in places reeling under economic depravity.
We’ are the victims of our own growth, humanity is 7 billion and growing. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “there’s enough for people’s need, there isn’t enough for people’s greed.” The world order is inequitable. The fruits of development and the technological revolution is confined to a privileged few. The worst sufferers are the teeming millions of young people, who have the energy and drive, but no jobs or positive avenues to life and opportunities for a fruitful engagement with rest of the world. The rising violence, radicalism, or other hate crimes, unrest in the society is a consequence of growing disparities. Youth, and society at large, is disillusioned and bitter. They feel have been denied their rightful due. This is not confined to the less developed world. Even Europe and the US are feeling the heat. To engage youth productively and constructively will be one of the greatest challenges and opportunities in the decades to come. I commit myself to working on channelising the huge demographic dividend by focusing and devising interventions with and for the youth of the world.
I’m against gender discrimination, both positive and negative. I demand and will work for an equitable treatment of women. A parochial and patriarchal mindset is engrained in our societies — whether in the East or the West — which prevents half of humanity from realising its their inherent potential and talent. Gender roles limit the capabilities of a society. Women have stepped forward, but men too need to set their houses in order. Women's safety is a concern, not just in Delhi or in other cities of India, but in all the metropolises of the world in some measure. It is a matter of shame that women are targets of violence and exploitation. There is need to work to create an equitable and just society where women are equal partners. And this requires, inherently, a mental revolution. I am not a supporter of special status for women, but that of parity. I will work for a society that doesn’t discriminate on the basis of gender.
I believe that people who are handicapped for whatever reason, are also blessed with a special, inherent and unique ability. In other words, adverse circumstances vitalise hidden talents. And to hone hidden talents is a good way to ensure that the differently-abled live a life of dignity and self-reliance. To achieve that, there’s a need of constant, affirmative and supportive attitude of the society, government and various other stakeholders towards them. The society at large should be able to cater to their special needs and to reap the benefits of their special abilities. That calls for a focused approach. I have seen how honing of talent of a differently-abled person in the field of sports can give new zest and meaning to their life. This has to be extended beyond sports and inculcated into day-to-day lives.
Food security will be a challenge. To me the solution lies in maintaining a balance between traditional agriculture practices and the use of technology. I belong to the Hindi heartland of India. For generations, farmers are treated as agriculture scientists — custodians of traditional knowledge of the soil-types, water, climate and biodiversity. This knowledge is bequeathed from generation to generation. Inadvertent and indiscriminate use of technology has resulted in problems. Punjab is a glaring example. Globally, there’s a move towards the basics and natural way of life. The popularity of ‘organic’ food is not a fad — it is a way of life. Ensuring food security for the present and future would require a focused approach keeping the needs of the farmer at the forefront. In my view, technology has a major role to play in ensuring food security. Technology has to serve the farmers by helping them increase the productivity in a sustainable fashion, not replace or subjugate them.
What does it take to ensure a strong foundation? Simple: Reviving nationalism, national pride and going back to our roots. Undoubtedly, the easiest route is via revisiting our invaluable literature. Blessed with literary stalwarts like Jay Shankar Prasad, Dinkar, Sumitra Nandan Pant, Nirala, Tagore, Mahadevi Verma, it is unfortunate that our younger generation has no time for these gems. I stand committed to reviving literature of our region, bringing it closer to today’s youth, integrating it with their aspirations, and hope. With timeless literature as the building block, we can be sure of a strong and vibrant nation proud to sing ‘Sare jahan se acha, Hindustan hamara.’
Clean environment is a life force. Nature is our mother. Nature can be fury, as well. The last two centuries of unbridled development have made humanity achieve the improbable, but in the process have reduced the planet over last few generations to a furnace and a chimney. The essential balance of Nature seems to have been disturbed. There are potent signs for humanity to change the way it treats the environment in its quest to excel or face disastrous consequences. To me, clean surroundings and healthy environment are the most fundamental of all fundamental rights. There’s a need for awareness. And there’s a need of a focused approach on multiple fronts. For instance, water is just one of many issues that underline the predicaments we face as victims of our own, so called, progress. Humanity has failed to provide clean potable water to all and yet managed to contaminate and destroyed natural water systems all over the world.