India and Australia: Optimism and Opportunity
This effervescent Optimism Cafe hosted by the Centre for Optimism in August 2020 is well worth watching. It featured Australia's High Commissioner to India, The Honourable Barry O'Farrell, two upbeat Indian members of The Centre for Optimism Pratibha Prahlad and AK Tareen and two upbeat Australian members of The Centre for Optimism Stephen Manallack and Stephen Berkeley together with Chair Robert Masters and COO Victor Perton.
The Centre for Optimism has many, many members and supporters in India, and, of course, Prime Minister Modi is a great optimist!
I asked my friend, the Classical Dancer Prathibha Prahlad what makes her optimistic.
Pratibha Prahlad told us,"What makes me optimistic, Victor? For me, optimism is a way of life because I believe that life has its ups and downs, and your optimism makes you face your adversities and adversaries with a sense of purpose and equanimity.
I'm always optimistic that the next day will be better than this one and that the next person I meet will be a better human being than the last one that I met. So I look forward to life with a sense of wonderment, and then that's what I keep telling everybody, that you have to have a sense of wonderment. Because the moment you lose that wonderment, you lose many beautiful things you can see in the world and experience.
In these hard times, all of us are in our lockdown lives,, and I think that right now, too, I'm optimistic that this gives us an opportunity to look at ourselves internally, to understand ourselves, because we all, we're in a bubble.
Speaking for myself and my fraternity, we were jumping from stage to stage, travelling, and performing all the time. We never really had time for ourselves to internalize the process, to understand where we came from, to understand our own thoughts, our ideas, and our creativity, to allow it time to bloom, allow time to fruition so that there's completeness in the process. We didn't have time for all that, and this pause has given us time. And for me, for the last four months, I know there was a lot of agitation and nervousness in my fraternity because a lot of performances got cancelled, our travel engagements got cancelled, and people generally thought that this put a stop to their livelihood.
But in our Vedanta, in the science of life that we follow, we are told that life is not merely working, consuming, and living off the fruits that your profession gives you. Instead, life is about understanding yourself, internalizing the process, having meaningful relationships, having deep relationships, and understanding what other people are about.
So finally, you stepped back, and you started relating to people and things in the manner we have to. And this has given us that pause button to pause time to understand ourselves and the world around us.
So I'm optimistic that we'll come out better as individuals and as better human beings, contributing to a better community, a better society, and finally, a better nation. And I hope that leadership worldwide understands this and utilizes this time to make our world a better place to live in. Thank you.
I asked The Honourable Barry O'Farrell, Australia's High Commissioner to India, what makes him optimistic.
With his affable good humour Barry told us: "I'm not conscious of always being an optimist, but remember Victor that I sat through 16 years in parliamentary opposition, in four elections in which my party was beaten, and still waited for that final one we won.
"So there must have been some optimism amongst me.
"Reflecting on your question, "what makes you optimistic?" in the context of Indian and Australian relations: One of Australia's great attributes, one of India's great attributes, is the education services on offer.
"When you think about our history and the history of the world, most things that have afflicted us over the centuries have been resolved by positive people coming forward at the right time.
I" was the first person in my family to go to university. Hence, I understand the families here in India who have told me they would rather go without food to ensure their children get the best possible education.
"I am confident knowing so many Indians who studied at Australian universities and Australian university students who studied in India: Our countries have grown through that knowledge and energy brought home. I admire the many Indians who have migrated to Australia and started businesses in various fields that have added to our society.
"Education is the key to the kingdom. That properly played and encouraged gives me optimism about the future, not just of the India-Australia relationship, but of each country and the globe in which we live."
More on Indian Optimism:
Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft (February 2020)
"My hope as an India optimist is that this country continues to be a progressive democracy that really helps more and more people find that this is the land of their dreams, and they find opportunity. And I think this is what is true about India today and I am very confident that it will be true of India in the future."