Digital India — My foot!

Punyashloka, Mumbai

30thAug. 1905

Dearest Mrinalini, I have received your letter of the 24th August. ……I think you have understood by now that the man with whose fate yours has been linked is a man of a very unusual character.

I have three madnesses. The first one is …..

My third madness is that while others look upon their country as an inert piece of matter — a few meadows and fields, forests and hills and rivers — I look upon my country as the Mother. I adore Her, I worship Her as the Mother. What would a son do if a demon sat on his mother’s breast and started sucking her blood? Would he quietly sit down to his dinner, amuse himself with his wife and children, or would he rush out to deliver his mother? I know I have the strength to deliver this fallen race. It is not physical strength, — I am not going to fight with sword or gun, — but the strength of knowledge. The power of the Kshatriya is not the only one; there is also the power ….. founded on knowledge. This feeling is not new in me, it is not of today. I was born with it, it is in my very marrow. God sent me to earth to accomplish this great mission. The seed began to sprout when I was fourteen; by the time I was eighteen the roots of the revolution had grown firm and unshakable…

After listening to what my aunt said, you formed the idea that some wicked people had dragged your simple and innocent husband onto the bad path. But it was this innocent husband of yours who brought those people and hundreds of others onto that path ………………..and will yet bring thousands and thousands of others onto that same path….. On 30 August 1905 Sri Aurobindo (an Indian Nationalist, Yogi, Guru and Poet) wrote this letter to his wife Smt. Mrinalini Devi. The letter is one of those which were found and taken away by the police during the search of the Grey Street house in connection with the Alipore bomb trial during India’s struggle for independence and afterwards produced in court.

This blog post is not about the legendary Sri Aurobindo but about the Digital India campaign, opportunities for start-ups in Digital India and how can the startups usher in the digital revolution given the sever paucity of resources and extraordinary size of the challenges with which they have to fight and win defying all known rules of science. Then why am talking about a spiritual giant? I would like to share a small fact from Bruce Lee before I come to the point. Right. Let’s go.

What would you consider the biggest feat in martial arts? Smashing stacks of boards in a single kick or pulverizing slabs of concrete with one fell swoop of hand?

I have seldom seen a more spectacular feat in martial arts than the One-inch punch. The one inch punch gained popularity when Bruce Lee demonstrated it at the Long Beach International Karate Championships in 1964. Launched from a mere single inch from the body of his opponent, Bruce Lee was able to generate an explosive blow that easily knocked his opponents off the ground. You must see the youtube videos of its execution to fathom and believe in this lethal punch.

Now we come to the point.

The Digital India campaign in my humble opinion is not about loaded jargons like ‘digital infrastructure as a utility to every citizen’, governance and services on demand’ or ‘digital empowerment of citizens’. It is not even about petty party politics scoring brownie points with ever new and bigger schemes.

It is just about a bunch of bonkers. Youth and startups mad enough to believe that India is not merely a geographical location on the globe but a mother figure. Remember the third madness of the great Sri Aurobindo in His letter to his wife Smt. Mrinalini. It was this mad love for His mother India that transformed him from an ordinary mortal to a national revolutionary and ultimately to his insane achievements in the spiritual field that are till today empowering entire generations.

But how are humble Indian startups going to do it given the tremendous odds they are facing. Severe paucity of resources, no collective experience in executing an idea this ambitious and most importantly the ubiquitous nay-sayers who have a habit of adding ‘my foot!’ whenever you speak of optimism to them. The title of this post is dedicated to one such nay-sayer I met during one of my previous assignments. Surprisingly he had occupied a very important government post before he retired.


Follow the logic of the one-inch punch of Bruce Lee in creating the perfect strategy for your startup. The miraculous one-inch punch is more about mind than raw muscle power. Although Bruce Lee’s clenched fist travels a fraction of an inch in a very small time the punch in reality is an intricate full body movement that lurches the shoulder of his thrusting arm forward producing a devastating effect on the victim.

Startups, even if the world feels we cannot pull off this impossible miracle called digital India (just as it never believed anyone could be affected in the least by a punch thrust from a distance of mere one-inch from the victim’s body before Bruce Lee showed how devastating it really could be if executed with complete integrity of body mind and soul), push on..we can …we can my dear friends.

And how do you achieve such complete integrity?

Just believe that whatever you are going to do under this campaign is the best and biggest gift you would ever present your own mother. Can you allow it to fail?


Writer’s Bio

Author has requested anonymity & will publish the articles with a pen name Punyashloka. He is working towards writing a non-fiction book based on the series of articles being published in the near future and interested to pursue his PhD research in Entrepreneurship from next year.

Originally published at