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Planting the Tree of the Nation
|The former U.S. President, John F. Kennedy, referring to Lyautey, once remarked
"I once asked my gardener to plant a tree. The gardener objected that the tree was slow growing and would not reach maturity for a hundred years. I replied, "In that case there is no time to lose, plant it in the afternoon..."
Chartered Account, New Delhi, 79. (Suppl.)
The growth and development of a nation is likewise a lengthy affair, and there has to be a tremendous input at both the individual and national levels before it finally bursts into blossom and finds the position of honour and glory that it merits in world affairs. But to one who points out that no one can wait for a national policy to mature if it is going to take a hundred years, the only answer is : "In that case, we cannot afford to lose even a single moment. We must plant our ‘tree’ this very minute".
If it takes a mighty tree one hundred years to reach its full stature, whoever wishes to possess such a tree has no option but to tend it for that period. If instead of nurturing it with care and skill, people come out on to the streets and launch a strike campaign in the name of trees, or gather in some open place or march through the streets shouting slogans about it, they will never possess a single tree, less own an orchard.
Similarly, you cannot own a house by making eloquent speeches about the need for one. It would be the crassest stupidity to do so. Neither can a nation fortify itself by working miracles only in the field of politics. In the rarefied world of poetry, revolution can occur as a result of a mere play on words. A demagogue can make impassioned speeches and attract great crowds. But real results can be achieved only by long-term planning and continuing and dedicated effort.
Needless to say, the two great virtues which are indispensable in the struggle are patience and fortitude.
The business of planting an orchard does not begin with the holding of an orchard conference. No, indeed. It begins by obtaining seedlings and providing every single one with such favourable conditions as will enable it to develop its potential and grow into a fully developed tree. When one has done this with innumerable seedlings, one can then expect to have an orchard.
In this respect, a nation is somewhat like an orchard. Build the individual and you build the nation. If hidden potential is to be developed, it takes education, encouragement, and the provision of a proper environment at an individual level very early on in the whole process, just as a sapling must be put into well prepared ground and given the right type and quantity of nutrients, water, sunlight, etc. If people are properly instructed, while they are still young and receptive and by people who adopt a caring, positive attitude, they develop a healthy awareness of what their commitments to society should be and what it means to be part of a nation. If callow youths are to be turned into real men, they have to have the feeling inculcated in them that to achieve positive ends they must continually keep up a peaceful and ameliorative struggle, one which will create harmony and eschew conflict, one which will solve, and not create problems for their fellow men.
Although we must accept the fact that this is a highly competitive world, there is nothing to prevent us from endeavouring to cooperate with and encourage cooperation from others. If we stand shoulder to shoulder with our fellow men in the face of the most heartless rivalries, there is no obstacle that we cannot overcome, no peril that we cannot face. But if we do not see to it that such ideas are propagated and accepted among people in their formative years, we cannot expect to find many who will be willing to cooperate. No matter how basically good the fruit trees in our orchard are, they will not blossom and bear fruit unless they are consistently well tended.