Many times while speaking to groups of young students and professionals in India, people are curious about my personal experience of working and living in the USA.
It always makes me reminisce my days of living in the midst of the most happening place on earth, the Silicon Valley.
The birth place of both my children and my home for a long time. There is something magical in that location.
I was born and brought up in India – a great land known for its own diversity, values, history, culture, ethics and compassion. When i was going to USA for working in 1990’s, there was an excitement and also concerns of racism among few friends. But my personal experience from the time i landed in silicon valley has been anything but.
My life in USA was all about meeting good human beings, listening to awe-inspiring and think-big leaders, mentors who never bothered about skin-color, and friends who never cared about net-worth or place-of-birth.
My experience of USA is a melting pot of best minds, perspectives, energy and passion. A culture which makes you believe that you can change the way we work, live, play and learn to create a better world. Ideas, action, intellect and professional ethics mattered more than the value of the 3-piece suit or the skin-color.
I gave my best at everything while living in USA. The country gave me the best that it could offer – global perspectives, to-think-big, warmth and inspiration including a Green Card for permanent residency (later surrendered due to long-stays outside USA).
I will never trade the period of my life in USA with anything else. I personally experienced what the great Indian monk, Swami Vivekananda famously said at a Chicago conference more than 100 years ago “brothers and sisters of america”. A land of freedom – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Thanks to the public libraries in USA, i had access to many Indian and western philosophy books than i could hope to lay my hands anywhere else in the world.
My life experiences made me realize that the world and the society is nothing but a mirror and if we can see good, we feel good all-around.
If it was my destiny to live in USA and contribute more than a decade of my career, i also needed to return and contribute in India. India is not just my birthplace but also a place where i studied in public schools run with Indian tax-payer money.
When people ask me why i returned to India, I tell them, “I did not return because USA was bad, i returned because India also was good”.
No conversation on USA these days ends without references to Visa situation.
Interestingly while humans lived and identified themselves as citizens of their nations or kingdoms for a long time, passports were not a requirement till about 100 years ago.
It is my personal belief that whole world is one single family, described in a beautiful expression “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” in ancient Indian scriptures.
However when a person has the mantle of leadership of a nation or society, they are also bound by the additional duty and responsibility to protect its citizens and the law-of-the-land. All residents and visitors must abide by the law and help the administration for peaceful living and harmony in the society.
In the rapidly evolving world order with the aid of technology, we are closer to realizing the ideal of a global family. But we need to be careful about not just creating a global market but a true global family.
Focusing only on developing global markets without the right perspectives will create more divisions and wars. Nations look at each other only as a means to increase their own wealth and prosperity even at the cost of other nations. We need to develop ethics, compassion and good governance mechanisms.
Lack of ethics and compassion is leading to a lot more of ideological wars. It is true that these wars have been happening for more than 2500 years but with the advancements in technology they are now more deadlier and perhaps can even extinguish humans from the face of earth.
Ideally we all would like to see the entire humanity(even beyond) as a single global family. Practically, there are going to be different needs based on different local conditions of living just like needs of family members differ. Instead of aspiring the theoretical egalitarianism (sama-samaj) we should first learn to develop societies of peaceful-coexistence(sahajeevana-samaj).
It is almost impossible to create such forced-equality society since naturally there are physical differences in the world. We have seen many recent examples of such attempts to create egalitarian societies failed both at social and religious levels and causing a lot of trouble in the society.
Development of both intra and inter peaceful-coexistence of societies will lead to improved ethics and compassion which in turn will lead us to the egalitarianism in the meta-physical realm.
In every democracy, laws are always made according to the needs of the society at any given point in time. Sooner or later it will auto-correct if any of the laws are not in accordance of the needs of that society.
Righteousness and the human values will always prevail and direct the law-of-the-land. Great democratic countries like India and USA will always be able to find answers.
India is not only the land-of-glorious-past but also the land-of-infinite-wisdom. USA is not only the land-of-opportunity but also the land-of-freedom. life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
I feel fortunate to spend considerable amount of my life in both of these great nations.