In a world of community and competition, we are often overcome by jealousy - a closeness of visibility of our friends and relatives and their achievements, accompanied by a pressure to shine and outperform. Cooperation is our nature, competition and jealousy, our choice.
Given our vast talents as a global leadership diaspora, we cannot afford to be spiteful in an era which demands our open-minded vision. We ought to celebrate others’ successes and choose to encourage them.
Let us step back and reflect upon how this jealousy is affecting our strength as a family and community. It can lead to discouragement, isolation of someone skilled but different, and at extreme levels, even criticism and suppression of genuine achievements and breakthroughs. For those of us who have felt it, it can also destroy our passion for community service and volunteering. Is that affordable?
To be able to overcome jealousy, we must first recognise it when we feel or practice it. If we fail to recognise it, we will not overcome it. In an age of social media many people can be very loud and visible and others equally accomplished may be shy and modest. This contrast can provoke jealousy. Social media can exacerbate it. Given the vastness of Indian heritage, and the sheer variety of talent and resources we have, jealousy can silently kill our unity and progress as a community.
What is important to understand is the motives behind self-promotion, or what others perceive as self-promotion. Is it ego or is it to raise awareness about an ethical issue or a social challenge? Unfortunately, with social media the two are entwined. How is the character and behaviour of our friend advancing wisdom and ethical conduct in society? Are they bringing creativity into a space where Indian wisdom is often misrepresented or ignored altogether? What resources do they have to promote their skills and ideas? Why can’t we help share this wisdom for the larger good?
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For example in a very short time with ‘Oshwal Connect’, media and social entrepreneurs Bunty, Panna, Chaitan and Sonali Shah are achieving outstanding results in building awareness and shared feelings of achievement. Bunty explains: ‘To grow a community you need to unify people by inspiring, educating and instilling positivity. Jealousy is a complete waste of energy, we ought to put it aside.’ Media is an important catalyst for common-unity.
When someone is cleverer or more talented than us, we can choose to learn from them instead. We too can grow from this learning. If we become jealous, we will lose this rare opportunity. Let us keep the bigger picture in mind the next time we feel jealous. Let competition not destroy the beauty and power of others to transform society.
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In small ways we can celebrate achievement and encourage others not to be jealous. Those of us who are experienced and better-connected ought to help open doors for young people pushing hard all on their own. For many years I have been doing just that for highly talented young people, including bhajan artist Bhavik Haria. It’s our duty.
Professor Atul K. Shah [@atulkshah] teaches and writes about Indian wisdom on business, culture and community at various UK universities and is a renowned international author, speaker and broadcaster.