Children of the Earth and the Sky

by | May 15, 2023

The Indian diaspora has excelled in the modern world. Indian-origin engineers are heading three top technology companies of the world – Microsoft, Google, and IBM – and many more. There is hardly any company or university where Indians are not present, holding responsible positions and carrying out work of consequence. The Science Advisor to the President of the United States, the President-designate of the World Bank, and so on. Ancient Indians called themselves the children of the earth and the sky – तन्माता पृथिवी तत् पिता द्यौः। (Rig Veda 1.89). As local people pride themselves as sons of the soil, I celebrate overseas Indians as children of the Sky.

Abhijit and his wife Juri work for Honeywell, a multinational conglomerate corporation headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina. With their 11-year-old son Abhiroop, they live in Bracknell, 40 miles west of London. Bracknell is a post-World War II, newly-built town, like Chandigarh in India. They do not own a car because their office is within walkable distance, and for every other commute, there is public transport.

Abhijit was born in Sivasagar, some 300 kilometers northeast of Guwahati, south of the Brahmaputra River. He did his Master’s in Polymer Chemistry from Tezpur Central University. He has fond memories of receiving the degree from President APJ Abdul Kalam who came to the convocation in October 2002. I, too, was there as part of the entourage.

Not knowing what next, Abhijit came to Mumbai with three other graduate friends to find a job. They end up working as shop floor technicians in small-scale companies (as good as laborers) and a chemical factory and struggled for about a year, surviving somehow in the Maximum City before getting a proper job with Asian Paints.  

Abhijit was sent to China by the company in 2006, and he worked in Shanghai for 3 years. After returning to India, he married Juri who was working for a US MNC in Gurgaon. She resigned from her job and moved to Mumbai after marriage.  But when Abhijit got a job with Honeywell as a Product Application Specialist in their newly set-up facility in Gurgaon, the newlyweds were perplexed. Addressing their plea positively, Honeywell recruited her as well, and the couple moved to Gurgaon. They were blessed with a son in 2011 and named him Abhiroop.

In 2015, Juri got a promotion and was posted in Bucharest, Romania. Abhijit also got a breakthrough to make a lateral change in his career and started as Sr Strategic Buyer in Bucharest, overseeing 100 million dollars spent. Time moved on, and eventually, they came to the UK in 2022. Though they literally are living as children of the sky in their careers, they remain rooted in their culture. Abhiroop speaks to his grandparents almost every day on video calls in Assamese. 

Geography used to define destiny. Earlier, people born in the hinterlands remained trapped in isolation. No proper education, no good employment opportunities, and the mindset of a sectarian living spoiled countless lives akin to buds never blossomed. The struggle of Abhijit and Juri in their early life is an example of the end of that era. The world has opened now, and talented and hardworking people are welcomed with open arms. But it took almost 100 years!

Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) was an emblem of the universal spirit. In the early twentieth century, when the idea of independence was fermenting in India, Tagore asked the fundamental questions: Independence for what? Freedom from whom? Liberty for whom? He penned the iconic poem – Chitto Jetha Bhaiyashunyo (Where the mind is without fear). This one poem, written as one long sentence without rhyme, stands testified by Abhijit today.

Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection

Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way

Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit

Where the mind is led forward by thee

Into ever-widening thought and action 

Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

India is celebrating 75 years of independence, and from now to 2047 has been declared as the Amrut Kaal, a quarter of a century when India must find its rightful place in the global community. For the first time, India is asserting itself as a civilization. 

Besides children of the earth and the sky, वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम् (Maha Upanishad VI. 71) is another central idea of the ancient Indians – this entire world is one great family. How different it is from the violent creeds of denominational supremacy in Europe, which created havoc on the planet in the form of the brutal colonization of Asia, Africa, Australia, and America? What a great contrast it makes with Nazism, Fascism, and the Crusades! 

The hallmark of modern times is connectivity. Five hundred million Indians are now continuously connected to the Internet through their mobile phones. This connectivity is almost free, and though many may not cherish the blessing, it is not available yet for billions of people elsewhere in the world. It has become so easy to seek knowledge, know the answers to our questions, and be in the mainstream, wherever one may live in geographical terms. 

It can’t be a coincidence, a favor, or a preference but a tell-tale sign of the purity of the soul and clarity of the mind that Indian civilization has bestowed upon its people that is shing through Satya Nadella, Sundar Pichai, Arvind Krishna, Arti Prabhakar, and thousands of other achievers like them. That Ajay Banga, who studied in Hyderabad Public School, where my grandson is now studying, will be President of the World Bank for a five-year term beginning June 2, 2023, is both inspiring and joyous for the Indian children growing up today. 

But what pleased me the most about Abhijit, Juri, and Abhiroop is that they remain connected to their roots while living abroad. A tree is called a giant only when it is alive and draws nutrition from its roots. Once its roots are severed, a tree becomes material – bagasse and timber – to be used and consumed. This truth must be internalized by millions of those who, though physically remaining in their hometowns and even joint families, are overwhelmed by the nuclear lifestyle and do not care for their aged parents and support their siblings. 

Rabindranath Tagore, while celebrating the mind without fear and the head held high, also cautioned against this narrowmindedness and selfish attitude. 

Where the world has not been broken up into fragments

By narrow domestic walls . . .

Wars will be redundant soon. I have no doubt, whatsoever, that India would lead the world, not in the military or political sense, but in the Buddha way, living peacefully, doing virtuous and wholesome deeds, and treating other sentinel beings, including animals and plants, with compassion. The Indian ethos of loving-kindness would prevail over the greed of commerce and ideological violence. Those who take care of the earth are looked after well by the sky too!

MORE FROM THE BLOG

Look far ahead

Look far ahead

Since last month, I have been reading a rather scholarly book, The Book of Why, written by Israeli-American computer scientist Judea Pearl with Dana Mackenzie. The book deals with the often elusive relationship between cause and effect…

The Mystical Language of Numbers

The Mystical Language of Numbers

Is there an occult, divine or mystical relationship between a number and one or more coinciding events? In ancient Greece, Pythagoras propagated the idea that reality at the deepest level is essentially mathematical. He and many after him believed that a system of principles existed behind numbers…

A Moment of Civilisational Pride

A Moment of Civilisational Pride

I was born in 1955 in independent India. When I look back today, without hesitation, the best moment in public life I witnessed is the construction of a grand temple and the consecration of the idol of Shri Rama Lalla in Ayodhya on January 22, 2024…

18 Comments

  1. Your holistic vision of life of children of the sky is superb, Prof Tiwariji !

    Your philosophical approach for peaceful living with Indian ethics and value system is amazing!!

  2. An extraordinary insight on a sublime topic, you continue to amaze us all with the variance and diversity of your chosen topics, Sir.

    What is truly transcendental is your experiences combined with your invaluable thoughts that makes this an interesting read, particularly the points about both earthly and philosophical intuitions that make ordinary people amazing.

  3. A very interesting read about Abhijeet. I can relate it to my stay in the United States during 2005-2008. I was living in Baltimore. Of course, I returned but would love to see my children going and working there. Indians, by and large, remain deeply connected to their homeland. But the intensity of this connection and the precise channels through which it operates vary greatly across the Indian American population.

    Indian Americans are now the second-largest immigrant group in the United States. Their growing political influence is growing. The Scientific Advisor to President Biden and Chief of World Bank are Indians. These positions are earned by life-long work and therefore validate the theme of your blog. You forgot to mention Indian origin Vice President of the United States. Her mother, Shyamala Gopalan is from Chennai.

  4. I am deeply inspired by Abhijeet’s story. It is indeed very difficult for children born in small towns and studying in the local language to receive a good education and job. I can feel his struggle in Mumbai working in chemical factories. But he never gave up on his dreams and eventually, they came true.

    I am also particularly impressed by the way they handled their journey as a couple. People say all marriages are made in heaven. I feel that the real good ones are made here on earth. The way Abhijit and his wife supported each other is exemplary for every struggling couple. They are very young and I wish them many higher achievements.

  5. Dear Sir, While reading this article I felt this is my story as well! Starting my career from a small city in Bihar in 2008 after completing my medicine to complete my MBA in 2010 in your guidance from UOH, finally I reached to Australia after 10 years of struggle. I know how it feels being away from family and country. Every day I call my parents, thanks to the new technologies and social media to bring us closer.

    Maintaining the value system and providing knowledge of our culture and creed is the biggest challenge when you are staying in a foreign country. I have received bridging visa for Permanent Resident of Australia last month and will be getting my final PR and after 1 year citizenship as well. Will meet you soon in India after final PR to get your blessing in person, Warm Regards.

  6. Wonderful piece of writing. To stay connected to our roots implanted in our identity (asmita) is vital to our existence (astitva).

  7. Great Abhijit story for many to emulate.

  8. भारतीय पंजाबी मूल के हिंदू माता-पिता, यशवीर और उषा सुनक के पुत्र श्री ऋषि सुनक जिस श्रम और क्षमता से यूनाइटेड किंगडम के प्रधान मंत्री और नेता के रूप काम कर रहे हैं, जगजाहिर है।सुनक हिंदू है और भारतीय धार्मिक और सांस्कृतिक विरासत का पालन करते हुए उन्होंने भगवद् गीता पर सांसद के रूप में शपथ ली।

    यत् सारभूतं तदुपासितव्यं, हंसो यथा क्षीरमिवाम्भुमध्यात्।
    उद्यमेन हि सिध्यन्ति कार्याणि न मनोरथैः।
    न हि सुप्तस्य सिंहस्य प्रविशन्ति मुखे मृगाः॥

    कोई भी काम कड़ी मेहनत के बिना पूरा नहीं किया जा सकता है सिर्फ सोचने भर से कार्य नहीं होते है, उनके लिए प्रयत्न भी करना पड़ता है।जन्म से भारतीय होने के साथ-साथ कर्म से भी भारतीय होना जरूरी है। हंस के समान जो श्रेयस हो वही करना हमारी संस्कृति का सारांश है।

  9. Dear Sir, very happy to read the inspiring story of Abhijeet and his family. Indian culture plays an important role in inculcating values. There are four main values of life – Dharma (righteousness), Artha (wealth), Kama (enjoyment), Moksa (salvation or liberation). Our family is our destiny and to take care of our family members is the most fundamental duty.

    The two most important tenets of Indian culture are Human Values and Holism. Human values refer to moral, spiritual, and ethical values while Holism means oneness or unity. Indian culture is very rich and diverse and teaches us to be tolerant to others. To lead a peaceful integrated life by training and experience is emphasized in every Indian family and school.
    Thank you Sir.

  10. It feels so proud to see around that Indians are doing wonders across the world and contributing in raising the global economy. Prof Tiwari Ji, you brought out one very important issue is to have a strong root connect. This is probably the reason that Indians perform so well even the hardship.

  11. Emigrating to a new country is an enormous selfless act by many to provide children with more opportunities, improved education and new life experiences. This would mean moving away from aged parents too. Yet at every turn, all parents are focused on what we could control and thus we offer the best to our children. That is why old, exhausted parents back home do not give a glimpse of their loneliness or unease. Family values positively impact child and adolescent development. So wherever we are, there are no excuses to not teach kids about their roots and why they should respect, love and be grateful for their grandparents. Make sure to regularly talk with parents. As we listen and respect, children learn to do the same.

    There is something deeply important about teaching our kids to listen, to love and be patient when the story being told has been told before. Not from books or scriptures but only from us they learn that people matter a lot and love needs to last longer than we expect. You have every right to flaunt and be glad about your kids’ ‘foreign’ accents but teach them their mother tongue so that communicating with grandparents isn’t challenging. Can anyone of us deny that grandparents transmit and wisdom and they are official spokespersons of the family’s heritage?

  12. Delighted reading this new blog – beautiful picture of happy family on River Thames in London. India has a maximum number of English-speaking people, even more than the entire population of the UK. No wonder India is becoming an outsourcing centre for the globe. A credit card verification in Australia, or someone dial railway enquiry number from London lands at some BPO in India. That was the old story. Now silicon chips are designed in India, and Indian KPOs are involved in almost any advanced technology projects happening in the US and Europe.

    India is growing in Infrastructure and even if half of the projected Infrastructure projects become reality, it will further give a boost to India’s growth. New government is talking about laying more roads than were built in the last 50 years. No wonder India will take over the Japanese economy in 2032 to become the 3rd largest economy of the world, just behind US & China. My son Anurag lives in Chicago , United States and reading your blog today fills me with happiness and pride. Staying rooted in one’s culture is indeed very important and makes all the difference in the incredible success of Indian Diaspora.

  13. Indeed the the Indians are achieving where ever they go and have not forgotten he roots. They keep in touch with the motherland through their communicating devices, they follow all the cultural events where ever they are in this small world..

    As you have summed the blog, let the tolerant and adjusting attitude of we Indians over power the ego and urge to possess – which leads to war.

    Let us live this short life comfortably without fear and achieve many good things for the benefit of the human kind.
    It is summer and it is scorching hot. All- please take care of your selves and others – and the cattle and birds too.

  14. Great… I m awaiting your story of “Girl who won her Piano” as a blog and meaning of that in today’s materialistic world.

  15. Dear Shri Tiwari ji, Namaskar, Jai Swaminarayan, the introspective article written by you, we Indian’s are living abroad or in India must be connected to our deep roots. You have done a great service of to day’s society. We pray almighty to keep you in sound health for many many years so many more real stories will bring the change in our lives.

  16. Sir, Your blogs always make me happy because they preserve the values and virtues of a successful man’s life. This blog has also not disappointed me. India is now the world’s most populated country. The people of India live in different layers of life. We have to bring a common good to all the people of India, especially marginalised and downtrodden people. The wealth of the nation should reach them also; otherwise, they can’t enjoy the life within our country, just as the rich people enjoy the life. The government should not exploit the labour of the weaker sections. To help the poor is only the duty of the government. The social status of the country has to change a lot in order to bring harmony between the people and the country. It is possible if the government wishes to do so. The political will of the country should be strong on this issue, which is very vital to address to celebrate the freedom of our people. Thanks.
               

  17. Dear Prof Tiwari, Beautiful piece! Thanks for sharing.

    I agree that India should lead the world in virtue and prosperity. India continues to prosper, not out of exploitation or unfair practices, but out of honest hard work.

    As a the biggest democracy, I wish India well. The South, that shares the same history and background, continues to look up to India for leadership, in the way you put so well “… living peacefully, doing virtuous and wholesome deeds, and treating other sentinel beings, including animals and plants, with compassion.”

  18. The children of the sky are the global Indians moving across the planet with skills and creating prosperity. While they enhance the International connect and Seed Indianness worldwide, they do strengthen the roots and the branches of the family tree. Other than this their dedicated action should be towards strengthening climate resilience, global peace and universal brotherhood to pave way for global peace and prosperity.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Share This