June 18, 2009

'Hope gap' by Queen Rania of Jordan

Many of us get very inspired by some speeches made by leaders of the world or very humble mortals. For me, one such talk was by Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan. She was addressing the "India Today Conclave "- New Delhi, India in 2006. Her insight about bridging the 'hope gap' between the 'haves and have nots' was simply brilliant. Reminded me of the 'hope' I see in some of the parents who we help in a Trust, primarily run by my husband. Although they hail from abject poverty, the spark and hope they have to somehow break out of the poverty trap is heartening to see, in some of them.

I would like to reproduce here, a part of the talk she delivered on that occasion for the benefit of those who missed it, reproduced from her official website.
"…Even though Delhi is many miles from Amman, I feel a sense of familiarity. In part, it is because of the warm hospitality I have received since the moment I arrived. But it is also because I believe our nations share a similar spirit – one that is driven by optimism… and openness towards the world. Both India and Jordan have storied pasts, yet we do not fear the future; we believe we can harness the best of both, without compromising either… Our countries have shown we can reach out to the world, and embrace what modernity offers, without losing our grip on the culture and customs that make us who we are. Perhaps our shared openness stems from the fact that we both have youthful societies. Roughly one in three of your citizens, like ours, is under the age of 15. Young Indians and Jordanians represent a tremendous wellspring of talent and drive… and helping them reach their fullest potential is our greatest opportunity and obligation. Jordan, like India, deeply values knowledge, education and learning. We too want to foster an environment in which our people’s creativity can bloom."

"Even though Jordan may be a small hamlet next to India’s mega-metropolis, we welcome India’s emergence as a great world power for the twenty-first century… because we believe you have a key role to play in shaping the future we share. … India is everywhere, as anyone who attended the World Economic Forum in Davos can attest. Today, you have an historic opportunity and ability to influence other nations. But I respectfully submit that with that ability comes a special responsibility: At a time when other global powers are preoccupied with their own challenges, India can lead in bridging the divides that have held too much of the world back for too long."

"After all, you know what it means to be a developing country in a globalizing world – trying simultaneously to manage policy reform and to meet your people’s rising aspirations. … India today has the credibility and humility to exert the kind of leadership that puts people… humanity… and peace… at the heart of the world’s agenda. I have said, in the past, that I believe the greatest challenge we face is not religious divides or technology gaps or divisions between the developed and developing world, but the hope gap that separates people, from birth, into those who have a future and those who do not. The hope gap opens when our very youngest are denied what they need to thrive – health, nutrition, and literate mothers who can pass that value along. The hope gap widens when schoolchildren lack for books, technology and support – including teachers with training and access to global communications tools. This is unacceptable. We have to do better. Our hearts and our heads demand it."

"That is why, though it is fashionable to speak of India as an emerging economic power, I am convinced the world needs you to be a moral power as well. India can play an historic role in narrowing the hope gap – and, in so doing, build a brighter future for humanity as a whole."

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