Couldn’t elections have waited?
Recession is a word that has come into sudden vogue. I hear that things might get worse in the months ahead. Barack Obama won the US presidential elections. Hillary Clinton is giving him full support. I hope Obama uses his magic wand and sorts out the problems of people feeling the pain of recession.

As world economies are interlinked, India, too, is feeling the impact of recession, though to a lesser extent than the US. But recession in India is also due to conditions created by the fact that no political party has been able to provide water, electricity, food and shelter to all Indians even 62 years after Independence.

Considering our chronic problems, which are age-old, and the recession, could we not have postponed the elections for a year or two? I am aware that the Constitution requires elections to be held every five years. But even after the elections, we will still have problems like poverty.
In India, we have many religions, castes and sub-castes. Yet, we depend on each other. This dependence is our strength. But during elections, political parties destroy the unity and trust among people to suit their selfish political interests. In doing so, they destroy a 5,000-year-old relationship.

In today's strife-torn world, music, with its philosophy of ‘Sound is God’, comes as the only solace. In the purist form of music, there is not much to understand, but only to experience. It is a joy to realise the beauty of sound. I thank God that I belong to the world of sound which uplifts the soul and connects one to the Almighty.

We have more peace-loving people in the world than destructive, hate-preaching people. The best representatives of any religion are those who are compassionate, forgiving and benevolent. It is imperative that everyone, especially the educated people, interpret religious books using their intelligence and not follow every letter blindly. In many cases, education has not been able to make better human beings of us or create compassion and brotherhood among men.

We need like-minded religious and social leaders who can convey the message of a common God, universal brotherhood and the intrinsic truth of ‘Atma hi Parmatma hai’. Leaders, including Obama, must collectively convey the message of a common God to rid the world of the scourge of fundamentalism, hatred, terrorism and violence. Political leaders should come out of the narrow mentality of using religion as a base. Political campaigns should be based only on the quality and ability of leaders. If leaders do not take this initiative, fundamentalist elements in every religion will continue to divide people, and spread hate and violence.

We are like one family. Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam has been the greatest motif of our culture. We all belong to the same race, as the way we come into this world and leave is common to all. After all the battles, the ultimate truth that remains is water, dust, ashes, air and stones. My guru and father, Haafiz Ali Khan Saheb, often said the reality of life is air, water, fire, fragrance, colours and music. They are eternal and do not belong to any one religion. They are God’s gifts to all His children.

Traditionally, the Indian ethos has revolved around spiritualism. Religion is a personal matter for a majority of our people. But destructive elements give it a public colour and further their vested interests. For people of all religions who travel long distances to a place of worship, a prayer is a personal communion with God. In any place of worship, people from various faiths meet and exchange ideas that form the core of human essence and which bring out the richness and the humanist values that lie at the base of every religious order. It is the prevailing sentiment for the majority of people.

But it is exasperating when a small number of arsonists manage to create an atmosphere of distrust. The solution to this problem is within us. Just as music liberates us from narrow-mindedness and opens our souls to the warmth of universal brotherhood, an inspired leadership can guide us out of the morass of threat to global peace and harmony.

I hope we have a peaceful election. Whichever political party gets elected should dedicate itself to fostering prosperity, development and unity in India.