Additional writings by K.P. Singh may be found as Reflections of the Sacred in the Arts and Architecture

Original drawings of some of the images shown on this website are available for acquisition. Please contact KP for more information.

Exploring Our Racial and Cultural Diversity

A presentation made by K.P. Singh for the Stanley K. Lacy Executive Leadership Series

The Indianapolis Urban League
December 13, 2007

Kanwal Prakash “KP” Singh
(Notes, Comments, Reflections)

The human universe is in an unprecedented flux. People, cultures, ideas, talents, hopes and dreams are on the move as never before in search of something different, better, safe, exciting and impossible driven by imagined or real opportunities to better their lives. They are traversing into known and unknown places, across established geographic, national, and cultural boundaries, creating new frontiers of hope and promise with an amazing pioneering spirit. The United States of America has been one of their favorite destinations for reasons that we all know and that they have come to believe as the best place for their skills and future or to start a new life. In recent years, we have begun to see this movement of people in many directions, and that reasons for this cross-continental adventures by modern-day pioneers are increasingly multi-dimensional.

This trend and influx is irreversible; this confluence of nations on this blessed land and other Continents are nothing short of providential. We want to make certain that this transition must be a smooth, orderly, and mutually-rewarding experience for cultures, communities, and individuals relocating their hopes and dreams in new lands; willing to face entrenched ideas in place that are unfamiliar and that their receptions that at times may be less sympathetic. These newcomers are equally challenging to the established order and the existing populations; many feel invaded and threatened by new cultures, faiths, traditions, experiences, and sudden expectations and uninvited fierce competition.

Being a leader means: dispelling the fear factor, unfounded stereotype, indifference, or hostility towards newcomers and getting to the task of highlighting the positives of this global phenomenon and its relevance to our community and interests.

Only the times and faces are different. Instead of the primitive hunters, food gatherers, and fierce bartering of survival essentials, we are the modern-day migrating nomads: adventurers, trailblazers, and pioneers carrying not just our survival skills and aggressive instincts but as innovators, creators, distributors, and traders of ideas, products, and services, we represent the present-day humans in search of excelling and a better life.

The concept of independence and interdependence has taken on a new meaning. We know that each of us can do many things well. However, if we distributed the enormous task of human survival, community building, and prosperity to many, our time and energy may be better spent. We are in a millennium of global economies and trade, cultural and educational exchanges; medical, scientific, and technological advancements, global and space travel, and unimagined internet revolution. We need many more minds, skills, new pioneers to keep up with the tasks at-hand and we can anticipate unimagined expansions and growth in many fields. Today, the entire globe, from the remotest island to the farthest hamlet, is our marketplace and the entire world is our talent pool.

As leaders, we need to welcome this sea-change; imagine the power of this challenge.

Diversity is no longer a remote and distant concept; it is a happening and is all around us. Diversity, in all its rich and multi-dimensional facets, is our new frontier of unimagined opportunity and hope. It is an emerging guild of creators and consumers, innovators and ambassadors; tapestry of colorful ethnic and cultural textures; and a textbook of great ideas, knowledge, and human experiences. Diversity is the emerging new face of our shared humanity reflected in our neighborhood, supermarket, place of work, in our public forums and institutions, and increasingly mirrored in those who govern and lead us.

Being a leader means seeing how this new image and the untapped reservoir of talents and dreams fit into the vision of a peaceful and prosperous society; carefully assessing what new and reasonable expectations we must meet to make this diversity work and become a favorable catalyst and foundation for the benefit of all citizens and community.

Being a leader means seeing and anticipating shifts in community momentum, harnessing its positive power to effect creative change, and directing priorities. Transforming our traditional attitudes and ideas and making room for new ideas, preparing our students, citizens, and especially leaders to adapt to a changing world at home and abroad; and initiating policy and legislative considerations where needed to welcome, facilitate and accommodate a responsible mainstreaming for the well-being of all citizens.

As leaders, we need to recognize that the many talents, personal loyalty, and creative involvements and investments of our citizens have the potential of growing many-fold if we do not forget the very basic human component that motivates us and makes us who we are. We must nurture that humanity by learning about it. I am certain before long we can create a bridge that our “village,” the native and newcomer, will cross in friendship with shared enthusiasm. Our embracing: identifying, serving, and celebrating of our rich and growing diversity must be beyond a politically-correct-lip-service, or tokenism.

We need not fear that as a nation, our institutions will suffer or our excellence will be diminished if we made a fair and deserving leadership place for people of diverse cultures, races, or ethnicities at the executive or corporate level, and at every important community table. The race, ethnicity, and culture of our workforce are not, nor should they be a dominant issue. The gifts and competence of our workforce are, and must be, the key element of our focus and concern. Chances are that in our intensely competitive world, American superiority and supremacy in many fields is in danger if we simply continue to dismiss other wisdoms, experiences, and alternate solutions out of hand because of our continuing and unfair bias or shortsightedness.

Science, technology, research, innovations, travel, and internet are in a public domain. Suddenly, each nation has a new pride and confidence to compete at the global level and with superpowers. We are already watching India, China, and other developing nations emerge as big players. Fortunately, many of their brightest and best professionals are here in our midst now and we must tap them for the advantage that they offer us.

Being a leader means reading the wind, tealeaves, and unspoken language; creating an environment where we challenge the best in each of us and deliver it to the person next to us in a true spirit of welcome; an acknowledgement for his/her opportunity to contribute to our common vision and shared purpose. Good leaders make such an attitude a cornerstone of their spirit and commitment. They bring transparency in implementation of such a policy; earn and enjoy the trust of those they serve and lead. Great leaders see the new Diversity Renaissance not as something to fear or as an adversary or adversity, but as something of an anticipated welcome change and challenge; as new anchors and assets to call to service; and as a great new adventure into tomorrow’s world today.

Imagine, for us this is a modest threshold. We need to consider who has arrived and from where? What risks and uncertainties they have already faced? What motivating force they are carrying to succeed? What must we do to make each of us a full partner in building our shared new dreams? Diversity is not just tapestries and textures of color, dress, food, dance, languages, arts, faiths, festivals, unfamiliar traditions, and unexpected surprises. Our diversity is a living, breathing gathering of people, hopes, and dreams daring us to do the right thing. Together we have the power to give it shape and make it a collective adventure. We would not want anything less if we were in their places.

Kanwal Prakash “KP” Singh
Indianapolis, Indiana USA

Imagine an invitation:

“Come create a city that reflects the spirit of all people,
Share with us your talents and cultural experiences,
Enrich the emerging “Tapestry of Cultures,”
The sacred Fabric of Faiths
With the sounds and splendors of the distant and diverse,
Together discover the excitement and echo of our humanity,
Spirit that unites us as One Universal God’s Children;
Together shape a legacy that mirrors our shared vision.

Let us make a place at the tale for new friends and old,
Share our common dreams and shape a community
Where the Light and Labors of each one
Enhance the gifts and promise of all.”

Kanwal Prakash Singh
The Art and Spirit of K.P. Singh ~ Selected Drawings and Writings