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  • One day a one-eyed monkey came into the forest.

  • Under a tree she saw a woman

  • meditating furiously.

  • The one-eyed monkey recognized the woman, a Sekhri.

  • She was the wife of an even more famous Brahmin.

  • To watch her better, the one-eyed monkey climbed onto the tree.

  • Just then, with a loud bang,

  • the heavens opened. (Claps)

  • And the god Indra jumped into the clearing.

  • Indra saw the woman, a Sekhri.

  • Ah-hah.

  • The woman paid him no heed.

  • So, Indra, attracted, threw her onto the floor,

  • and proceeded to rape her.

  • Then Indra disappeared. (Clap! Clap!)

  • And the woman's husband, the Brahmin, appeared.

  • He realized at once what had happened.

  • So, he petitioned the higher gods

  • so that he may have justice.

  • So, the god Vishnu arrived.

  • "Are there any witnesses?"

  • "Just a one-eyed monkey," said the Brahmin.

  • Now, the one-eyed monkey

  • really wanted for the woman, a Sekhri, to get justice,

  • so she retold events exactly as they had happened.

  • Vishnu gave his judgment.

  • "The god Indra has sinned,

  • in that he has sinned against ... a Brahmin.

  • May he be called to wash away his sins."

  • So, Indra arrived,

  • and performed the sacrifice of the horse.

  • And so it transpired

  • that a horse was killed,

  • a god was made sin-free,

  • a Brahmin's ego was appeased,

  • a woman ... was ruined,

  • and a one-eyed monkey was left ...

  • very confused at what we humans call justice.

  • In India there is a rape every three minutes.

  • In India, only 25 percent of rapes

  • come to a police station,

  • and of these 25 percent that come to a police station,

  • convictions are only in four percent of the cases.

  • That's a lot of women who don't get justice.

  • And it's not only about women.

  • Look around you, look at your own countries.

  • There is a certain pattern in who gets charged with crimes.

  • If you're in Australia, it's mostly aboriginals who are in jail.

  • If you're in India, it's either Muslims or Adivasis,

  • our tribals, the Naxalites.

  • If you're in the U.S., it's mostly the blacks.

  • There is a trend here.

  • And the Brahmins and the gods, like in my story,

  • always get to tell their truth as The Truth.

  • So, have we all become

  • one-eyed -- two-eyed instead of one-eyed -- monkeys?

  • Have we stopped seeing injustice?

  • Good morning.

  • (Applause)

  • You know, I have told this story

  • close to 550 times,

  • in audiences in 40 countries,

  • to school students, to black-tie dinners at the Smithsonian, and so on and so forth,

  • and every time it hits something.

  • Now, if I were to go into the same crowd

  • and say, "I want to lecture you about justice and injustice,"

  • they would say, "Thank you very much, we have other things to do."

  • And that is the astonishing power of art.

  • Art can go through where other things can't.

  • You can't have barriers, because it breaks through your prejudices,

  • breaks through everything that you have as your mask,

  • that says, "I am this, I am that, I am that."

  • No. It breaks through those.

  • And it reaches somewhere where other things don't.

  • And in a world where attitudes are so difficult to change,

  • we need a language that reaches through.

  • Hitler knew it; he used Wagner

  • to make all the Nazis feel wonderful and Aryan.

  • And Mr. Berlusconi knows it, as he sits atop

  • this huge empire of media and television and so on and so forth.

  • And all of the wonderful creative minds who are in all the advertising agencies,

  • and who help corporate sell us things we absolutely don't require,

  • they also know the power of the arts.

  • For me it came very early.

  • When I was a young child, my mother, who was a choreographer,

  • came upon a phenomenon that worried her.

  • It was a phenomenon where young brides

  • were committing suicide in rural Gujarat,

  • because they were being forced to bring more and more money for their in-laws' families.

  • And she created a dance piece which then Prime Minister Nehru saw.

  • He came to talk to her and said, "What is this about?"

  • She told him and he set out the first inquiry

  • into what today we call Dowry Dance.

  • Imagine a dance piece

  • for the first inquiry into something

  • that even today kills thousands of women.

  • Many years later, when I was working with the director Peter Brook

  • in "The Mahabharata" playing this feisty feminine feminist

  • called Draupadi, I had similar experiences.

  • Big fat black mamas in the Bronx

  • used to come and say, "Hey girl, that's it!"

  • And then these trendy young things in the Sorbonne would say,

  • "Madame Draupadi, on n'est pas feministe, mais ça? Ça!"

  • And then aboriginal women in Africa

  • would come and say, "This is it!"

  • And I thought, "This is what we need,

  • as a language."

  • We had somebody from public health. And Devdutt also mentioned public health.

  • Well, millions of people around the world die

  • of waterborne disease every year.

  • And that's because there is no clean water to drink,

  • or in countries like India,

  • people don't know that they need to soap their hands before defecation.

  • So, what do they do?

  • They drink the water they know is dirty,

  • they get cholera, they get diarrhea, they get jaundice

  • and they die.

  • And governments have not been able to provide clean water.

  • They try and build it. They try and build pipelines; it doesn't happen.

  • And the MNCs give them machines that they cannot afford.

  • So what do you do? Do you let them die?

  • Well, somebody had a great idea.

  • And it was a simple idea. It was an idea that could not profit anybody

  • but would help health in every field.

  • Most houses in Asia and India

  • have a cotton garment.

  • And it was discovered, and WHO endorses this,

  • that a clean cotton garment folded eight times over,

  • can reduce bacteria up to 80 percent from water sieved through.

  • So, why aren't governments blaring this on television?

  • Why isn't it on every poster across the third world?

  • Because there is no profit in it.

  • Because nobody can get a kickback.

  • But it still needs to get to people.

  • And here is one of the ways we get it to people.

  • [Video] Woman: Then get me one of those fancy water purifiers.

  • Man: You know how expensive those are.

  • I have a solution that requires neither machine,

  • nor wood, nor cooking gas.

  • Woman: What solution?

  • Man: Listen, go fetch that cotton sari you have.

  • Boy: Grand-dad, tell me the solution please.

  • Man: I will tell all of you. Just wait.

  • Woman: Here father. (Man: Is it clean?) Woman: Yes, of course.

  • Man: Then do as I tell you. Fold the sari into eight folds.

  • Woman: All right, father.

  • Man: And you, you count that she does it right. (Boy: All right, grand-dad.)

  • Man: One, two, three, four folds we make.

  • All the germs from the water we take.

  • Chorus: One, two, three, four folds we make.

  • All the germs from the water we take.

  • Five, six, seven, eight folds we make.

  • Our drinking water safe we make.

  • Five, six, seven, eight folds we make.

  • Our drinking water safe we make.

  • Woman: Here, father, your eight-times folded cotton sari.

  • Man: So this is the cotton sari.

  • And through this we will have clean water.

  • (Applause)

  • I think it's safe to say that all of us here

  • are deeply concerned about the escalating violence in our daily lives.

  • While universities are trying to devise courses in conflict resolution,

  • and governments are trying to stop skirmishes at borders,

  • we are surrounded by violence, whether it's road rage,

  • or whether it's domestic violence,

  • whether it's a teacher beating up a student and killing her

  • because she hasn't done her homework, it's everywhere.

  • So, why are we not doing something

  • to actually attend that problem on a day to day basis?

  • What are we doing to try and make children

  • and young people realize

  • that violence is something that we indulge in,

  • that we can stop,

  • and that there are other ways of actually

  • taking violence, taking anger, taking frustrations

  • into different things that do not harm other people.

  • Well, here is one such way.

  • (Video) (Laughs) You are peaceful people.

  • Your parents were peaceful people.

  • Your grandparents were peaceful people.

  • So much peace in one place?

  • How could it be otherwise?

  • (Music)

  • But, what if ...

  • Yes. What if ...

  • One little gene in you

  • has been trying to get through?

  • From your beginnings in Africa,

  • through each generation, may be passed on to you,

  • in your creation. It's a secret urge, hiding deep in you.

  • And if it's in you, then it's in me too. Oh, dear.

  • It's what made you smack your baby brother,

  • stamp on a cockroach, scratch your mother.

  • It's the feeling that wells up from deep inside,

  • when your husband comes home drunk and you wanna tan his hide.

  • Want to kill that cyclist on the way to work,

  • and string up your cousin 'cause she's such a jerk. Oh, dear.

  • And as for outsiders, white, black or brown,

  • tar and feather them, and whip them out of town.

  • It's that little gene. It's small and it's mean.

  • Too small for detection, it's your built-in protection.

  • Adrenaline, kill. It'll give you the will.

  • Yes, you'd better face it 'cause you can't displace it.

  • You're V-I-O-L-E-N-T.

  • Cause you're either a victim, or on top, like me.

  • Goodbye, Abraham Lincoln.

  • Goodbye, Mahatma Gandhi.

  • Goodbye, Martin Luther King.

  • Hello, gangs from this neighborhood

  • killing gangs from that neighborhood.

  • Hello governments of rich countries

  • selling arms to governments of poor countries

  • who can't even afford to give them food.

  • Hello civilization. Hello, 21st century.

  • Look what we've ...

  • look what they've done.

  • (Applause)

  • Mainstream art, cinema,

  • has been used across the world to talk about social issues.

  • A few years ago we had a film called Rang De Basanti,

  • which suddenly spawned thousands of young people

  • wanting to volunteer for social change.

  • In Venezuela, one of the most popular

  • soap operas has a heroine called Crystal.

  • And when, onscreen, Crystal got breast cancer,

  • 75,000 more young women went to have mammographies done.

  • And of course, "The Vagina Monologues" we know about.

  • And there are stand-up comics

  • who are talking about racial issues, about ethnic issues.

  • So, why is it,

  • that if we think that we all agree

  • that we need a better world,

  • we need a more just world,

  • why is it that we are not using the one language

  • that has consistently showed us

  • that we can break down barriers, that we can reach people?

  • What I need to say to the planners of the world,

  • the governments, the strategists

  • is, "You have treated the arts as the cherry on the cake.

  • It needs to be the yeast."

  • Because, any future planning,

  • if 2048 is when we want to get there,

  • unless the arts are put with the scientists,

  • with the economists,

  • with all those who prepare for the future, badly,

  • we're not going to get there.

  • And unless this is actually internalized, it won't happen.

  • So, what is it that we require? What is it that we need?

  • We need to break down our vision

  • of what planners are,

  • of what the correct way of a path is.

  • And to say all these years of trying

  • to make a better world, and we have failed.

  • There are more people being raped. There are more wars.

  • There are more people dying of simple things.

  • So, something