HYDERABAD: A little after mid-2016, when my co-author Rajendran Panickar and Reekrit Serai publisher approached me with a request to join in as the commissioned author for the PMO approved book “Mann Ki Baat”, I was pleasantly and simply speechless.
Both Panickar and Serai had earlier heard me during my keynote speech at the Panchkula Arts and literary festival, where I had chosen to speak on the need to look at ourselves more deeply as Indians and my theme “Are we the world’s largest democracy or hypocrisy?”.
So, they both knew I was apolitical and did not believe in any political party, ideology or politician. Hence, I was surprised that they had chosen to commission me.
The irony was that I had earlier also led a the much impactful campaign “DiwALI- RAMzan- who are we to draw a line” in the aftermath of the Gujarat riots of 2002, to sensitize the people of India about what had really happened in Godhra and subsequent events in Gujarat.
After a fortnight of reflectio, I agreed to do the book on the condition with the publisher, my co-author and the PMO that I would write the book provided my thoughts were not deleted since I would be not only complementing some of the PM’s thoughts, but also countering some of his thoughts.
And thus, when they agreed, I signed up and must say that I could share my thoughts sans any restrictions or edits. For me Mann Ki Baat is a medium to reach out to all my fellow Indians in India and overseas to tell them that the culture of India is not created by any politician or bureaucrat but by every citizen of India. We are responsible for the state of our state. “Mera Desh sabse Mahaan nahi hai, par isme dosh mera hi hai” is the war cry.
The simple passion mantra for every Indian is “I change to change India, because India will change only when each one of us becomes the change.
The parts I have written in Mann Ki Baat book along with Panickar are under the theme “From the heart of the mind” and is a wake up call for all my fellow Indians.
Most readers who write back to me thought this is a book that is just addressing social, economic and political concerns. What most readers are realizing is that this is a book that does all of that and also unleashes personal potential by inspiring citizen action.
There are also simple yet powerful messages in the book to all politicians and bureaucrats to eliminate bad practices like corruption, communalism etc. as the state needs humble, righteous leaders who people can emulate so that India is not further polarised or corrupted and stays secular with integrity and unity in diversity.