My Power Quote !

A good book on a rainy day is happiness for me - Ruskin Bond

Saturday, December 28, 2013

PLIGHT OF VRINDAVAN WIDOWS

The Hindu on dated 7th October, 2013 (Monday) carried an article " Vrindavan widows back in City of Joy to inaugurate
auspicious puja'.

When I read the article, my eyes welled-up with emotion  the aged women are subjected to it .  It is deplorable that the country’s highest court – Supreme Court – had to intervene  for the welfare of widowed women of Vrindavan.

What the Sulabh International (SI) did is really commendable by sponsoring the 50 –odd widows of Vrindavan (Mathura's shelter homes) to Kolkata for Durga Puja celebrations. It would definitely help to remove the stigma attached to their status in the society. These aged women desperately need more love and affection to forget their past trauma and lead happy lives in their autumn of life. The efforts of SI should be supplemented by more NGOs so that India’s credo of ‘ Athidhi Devo Bhava’ (Treat the Guest as God) remains untarnished.

PUBLIC INCONVENIENCE !


 Delhi is desperately in need of public conveniences in adequate numbers. The walled city has deplorably very less number of toilets in public places. The plight of general public is alarming especially in bustling market places like Sarojini Nagar and Lajpat Nagar.

People have to wait in serpentine ques even for nature’s call in places like Sarojini Nagar Market etc. The situation is indescribable especially on holidays when the crowd is in full swing. The civic amenities in that sense are far below the standard. The government should immediately swing into action to expand the number of public conveniences in Delhi. In partnership with NGOs who want to contribute in civic amenities, the government should moot the idea of placing low-cost pre-fabricated structures for public conveniences especially at BRT points, bustling markets so that the hardships of people are mitigated to a large extent.

BURNT NOTES FROM ATM ?

 

My experience with ATM on 22nd November, 2013 left me shattered and scary.

When I was dispensed with two partially burnt one thousand notes, I was dumb found when the nearest  bank authorities flatly refused to exchange my burnt notes and asked me to go to custodian branch of ATM  which is tucked away 10 kms.

Without much waiting, I reached the spot  amidst cluttered traffic of afternoon Delhi where the bank authorities initially tried to shift the responsibility on cash filling agency . By the time when the people of same plight flooded with the same complaints, the situation fast turned into ugly and the authorities sensing the danger, and finally conceded with our demands and offered new notes.

Though the authorities assured us that they would conduct an internal enquiry, but the larger question remains is why the burnt notes were kept in the ATM deliberately. The plea taken by bank authorities that the contract vendor is responsible does not cut much ice. When the incidents of such nature happens, the reputation of bank would be at stake. In fact,  the nearest branch of the ATM must have attended our  grievances immediately which they miserably failed.   It is beyond my comprehension to ask the customers to go to such distant places  with their own transport which only multiply the woes. In the era of converging technologies, creating this kind of hardship  is totally uncalled for and this incident must be an eye opener for the authorities to fix responsibility on errant persons.

TAKE A WALK !

Trapped in the rhythms of daily life, we often ignore the many physical and psychological benefits of walking

Health, as the saying goes, is wealth. If health takes a back seat in your life and you thrust all your energies towards amassing wealth indiscriminately, you may not be in a healthy condition to enjoy your hard-earned wealth. This is the harsh reality of life and the sooner you realise it, the better it will be.

In the first place, the myth that the body is a ‘structure’ should be taken out of mind. It is in fact a set of processes. In order to ensure the organic processes happen as they should, you need to be in tune with nature and exercise should be treated as a non-negotiable activity of your daily life.

The simplest form of exercise is walking; it has a multitude of benefits both physical and psychological. A simple walk on a daily basis puts you on sound health. The testimony comes from none other than a grand old man of 102 years from Mahabubnagar district (Ayyavaripalli village in Veepanagundla Mandal ) of Andhra Pradesh.

SeshaSarma, by profession a family priest, wakes up at the crack of dawn and starts his fitness regimen with 2 km walking even at this ripe age. When asked about the secret of his healthy life, he says that he has been walking and doing yoga uninterruptedly for the last 72 years.

Hippocrates, the ancient Greek physician and father of western medicine sagely said that “Walking is man’s best medicine.   An early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day. One of America’s greatest philosophers Ralph Waldo Emerson finalises his talks during his morning walks.

Henry David Thoreau in his much acclaimed essay titled ‘Walking’ (1862) says that walking only comes by the grace of God. It requires a direct dispensation from heaven to become a walker. To support his assertion, Thoreau says that he can not preserve his health and spirits unless he spends four hours a day at least—and often more than that—sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements.

While pitying non-walkers, Thoreau says that “When sometimes I am reminded that the mechanics and shopkeepers stay in their shops not only all the forenoon, but all the afternoon too, sitting with crossed legs, so many of them —as if the legs were made to sit upon, and not to stand or walk upon—I think that they deserve some credit for not having all committed suicide long ago.

On the mechanics of walking, Thoreau says that you must walk like a camel which is said to be the only beast that  ruminates when walking. Health experts say that the best way to walk is to swing your arms while at it. Bend your arms at right angles to the elbows and swing them while you walk. This will increase the speed of your walk and keep the body in the aerobic zone (the maximum fat-burning zone).

Research reveals that walking increases the level of endorphins – naturally secreted hormones working in brain which increase the sense of wellbeing. A regular walk boosts the immune system, improves mood, reduces blood pressure apart from controlling weight. It is the best stress buster and keeps the head cool.

When it comes to right gear, wear apparel made of breathable fabric. Also invest in good shoes – a flexible, roomy toe to accommodate foot’s forward thrust; and a smooth sole.

Walking has both physical and psychological benefits. Unless a conscious decision is taken at individual level, fitness will remain a dream.  Experts say that knowledge is of no avail to you if you don't  act upon. So all you need in the first place is, walk the talk!
- The above article of mine published in The Hindu (Newspaper) dated 30th Oct., 2013 . To read directly there click here : http://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/fitness/take-a-walk/article5296969.ece

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

PROUD OF BEING ANDHRAITE !


When I was looking for a topic to write  my 100th article, a piece of news came handy that my own State Andhra Pradesh was adjudged as Number One State for best governance  for 2013 by a reputed Indian English News Magazine - India Today.

The journey to Number One is not instantaneous.  In 2011, the State stood at almost at the bottom of the rung at 17th.  By 2012, it fared well by clinching 7th place.   What made  a miracle in 2013  in terms of governance is, Andhra Pradesh Government's relentless efforts in improving the law &  order situation.   A drastic reduction in  rape and kidnapping incidents in 2013 put the State in the top-notch.  Equally charming news is its exemplary  way  of dealing with Naxal menace.

No doubt that the Andhra Pradesh under Chief Ministership of  Kiran Kumar Reddy needs a big applaud for this huge achievement at a time when the State is on the verge of division into  Andhra and Telangana.   On the e-governance sphere  , the State has achieved much more than any State could boast of.  Around 225 public services were brought under ' Mee Seva'  - a single window web-based delivery system by which the citizens could benefit various government services online.

Andhra has a rich cultural heritage.  It is a land with its own dance form called : Kuchipudi.  The world's richest Hindu temple - Lord Balaji Temple -  is located   here at Tirupati.

Andhraites are known as liberals with negligible regional chauvinism.  P. V. Narasimha Rao who was  Prime Minister of India ( 1991 - 96) gave  the much needed leadership at a crucial time when the country was heading to bankruptcy in 1990s with  dwindling foreign exchange forcing the country  to barter it's gold  to get the dollars.

The origins of Andhraites can be traced back to Sanskrit writings  of 1000 B.C.   The earliest definite historical evidence of Andhraites dates only from the times of Mauryan dynasty- 3rd century B.C.

The mother-tongue of Andhraites - Telugu is the 3rd largest speaking language in India with 74 million population speaking it.  The Telugu films produced here are 3rd largest number after Hindi and Tamil cinema.

Irrespective of political party in power,  when development  becomes the  buzzword in governance, any State could  flourish like  Andhra Pradesh.  May all Andhraites strengthen the government’s  hands to make Andhra Pradesh the Best Governed State in the world map !  

Thursday, December 19, 2013

BEWARE OF DEHYDRATION

The familiar scene in majority of Indian homes is that water is served only on demand. So it becomes increasingly the individual’s lookout to gauge his/her daily water needs. Neglecting this important fuel crams the body processes.

Water is, in fact, the most important liquid  in our body. It is the primary transporter of nutrients in the body. About 70% of human body is water. Health experts say that we could survive without food upto 5 weeks but not more than 5 days without water.

Lack of water in the body immediately affects  the blood volume and thereby burdens the heart and kidney with over-work.

A recent 2012 study by a team of health scientists led by Lawrence E. Armstrong, Professor of Physiology at the University of Connecticut (U.S) brought out some chilling facts before the world. The research finds that even mild dehydration can alter a person’s mood, energy level and ability to think clearly. The ill-effects of dehydration are equal both in high-energy consumed treadmill walker and a person sitting at rest.

Health experts define mild dehydration as less than 1.5% of water volume in the body. The tests further reveal that our thirst sensation does not really surface until we are 1 or 2% dehydrated.   By that time dehydration  already sets in and shows its impact on our mind and body’, says Prof Armstrong.

When it comes to the cognitive tasks that affect due to dehydration, scientists find that it affects the areas of vigilance and working memory.   Some subjects also experienced fatigue, tension and anxiety when mildly dehydrated.  The impact was found more on females than  males.

When dehydration occurs, the neurons in the brain detect it which signals to other parts of the brain regulating mood. So the solution lies in hydrating the body on daily basis.

The daily dose of water that our system needs is 8 glasses or 2 litres. The barometer for our hydration level in the body is to check the colour of urine. Healthy urine colour is ‘very pale yellow’. If the urine colour is dark yellow or tan in colour, it indicates a greater dehydration. The study cautions proper hydration for high-risk groups such as elderly people with diabetes and children.

Considering the profundity of the issue, one should not water down this caution ! 

O MOTHER, YOU ARE NEXT TO GOD !

 
My younger daughter V. S. Sravani who is studying class 7 at Kendriya Vidhyalay, Andrews Ganj, New Delhi, wrote this small verse on Mother which needs a big applaud !

M-Million of wonders
O-Ocean of love
T-Tears she sheds for me
H-Happiness she gives
E-her compassionate Eyes
R-she does Right for me !

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

INTERNET LOWERS YOUR MEMORY

 A recent cartoon in a prominent Telugu Daily turned me witty. The person who turns up for interview is posed a question : what is your name ? In response,  the man falls back on internet to search his forgotten name.

Needless to say that our memory capabilities have  drastically been reduced with the advent of internet which facilitated the free-flow of information.  Internet on mobile platform further deteriorated the situation and remembering even a phone number is not required as phonebook of mobile phone would take care of that.

Over-dependence on technology sharply declines our mental abilities , a recent study found.

If we take human computer Shakuntala Devi's advice into our veins, our computational abilities and memory retention powers remain largely in tact with age.

Shakuntala Devi advises that no child should be given access to computers till he/she reaches the university and has developed enough 'human mental skills' In fact the advice of Shakuntala Devi is a bit difficult to implement in the same breath as children at present want to embrace new technologies  which we can't ignore at any cost. The possible solution lies in taking a middle- path.

This   2011 research by Columbia University psychologist Betsy Sparrow brought out some chilling facts about the way our memory works in the age of Google. 'Since the advent of search engines , Sparrow says that we are reorganising the way we remember things'. Our brains rely on the internet for memory in much the same way they rely on the memory of a friend, family member or co-worker, she adds.

What needs to be underscored from her findings is " we remember less through knowing information itself than by knowing where the information can be found''. Having seen the darker side of over-indulgence of technology, it seems that the time is now ripe to switch the gears as over-indulgence with technology would only impede our memory.

DON'T SKIP THE BREAKFAST !



The myth that body is a structure should be removed from the mind before you  ritualize any fitness regimen.

Health experts say that it is not what we eat, but when and how that matters a lot in any weight-loss programme.  It looks a difficult task to control our cravings on what to eat rather than what we should eat.  It is also the timing that plays a crucial role as digestion rhythms are in symphony with nature's cycles.

After a night's dinner, when you wake up in the morning, it is very essential to stuff your system with some food. It means that the fast should be broken soon enough to maintain secretion of digestive juices so that the body maintains optimum level of energy.

But a working day morning is like a sprint for most of us and some of them prefer to skip breakfast to manage their time which is totally foolhardy. This can have an adverse impact on sleeping patterns.

Experts say that people who eat breakfast produce more melatonin, a hormone produced by pineal gland and therefore sleep better.

Fitness experts recommend to eat breakfast, preferably fruits. If you are on weigh-loss programme, better to start your day with fresh fruit juice - orange, apple, melon, pineapple which supplies the water content, the essential fuel   for detoxification.

In an interesting study undertaken in 2011 by a market research company, about 18% of males and 13% of females between the ages of 35 and 54 are breakfast skippers. The research also finds that skipping breakfast may increase a woman's diabetic risk. Another study found that skipping breakfast was associated with hypertension, insulin resistance and elevated blood sugar levels.

The better way to take a leisurely breakfast is to wake up a little early so that the most important food of the day is not fanatically gulped into throat due to paucity of time !

Saturday, December 14, 2013

A BOOK REVIEW : LIGHT FROM MANY LAMPS

 

Great lives give great inspiration.

If wisdom of ages is properly archived, it would definitely help to succeeding generations.

The book 'Light from many Lamps, edited by Lillian Eichler Watson' is a perfect blend of wisdom of East and West. It is a storehouse of inspiring quotes with caricature of world’s renowned personalities.

This book is a result of long labour by Watson in culling out the wisdom of past centuries. As the cover flap truly suggests, it is a book of infinite richness and abiding values.

This book is not meant for casual reading. It is a book which you have to come back and forth from time to time, sometimes to endure your sufferings and some other times to lift your spirits.

Reading this prose will change the trajectory of your thoughts. The starting page itself is a minefield of timeless wisdom for an interrogative mind.  "Who is a wise man ? In reply, Talmud says that ' He who learns of all men'. The contents of this book is  broadly divided into interesting chapters like 'Happiness and Enjoyment of living'  and "Faith and inner calm etc .  The labour involved in writing a book is better explained in this fitting quote of Samuel Johnson ' A man will turn over half a library to make one book'.

While reading this book, the reader gets an opportunity to know the lives of some of the greatest philosophers of past centuries. These immortal words of Charles Kingsley would inspire anybody : " Thank God every morning when you get up that you have something to do which must be done whether you like it or not. Being forced to work and forced to do your best, will breed in you temperance, self-control, diligence, strength of will, content and a hundred other virtues which the idle never know'.and "Faith and inner calm etc.

The book has chapters on Rome's best known philosopher Seneca. America's best known President Abraham Lincoln also finds place twice in the book. It has chapters on Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Shakespeare, Hippocrates,  ST. Paul, Confucius and many more epic personalities.

Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam in his book  "My Journey : Transforming Dreams into Actions" mentions this book as one of his three favourite books. Befitting to its tile "Light from many Lamps", truly gives you 'Inner Light' !

GITANJALI - POETRY AT ITS BEST

 
It is exactly over a century ago in November, 1913, a man with flowing beard and sweeping robes of India brought the first Nobel prize for his masterly work called Gitanjali (Song offerings) which is nothing but loose translations of his Bengali poems.

Rabindranath Tagore is a multi-facet personality of  India  He is a poet, novelist, playwright, painter, essayist and music composer. He is the first non-European Nobel laureate in literature. His poetry stands apart from mainstream poets of English world of his times. His open minded reasoning is a celebration of human freedom. Humanism and universalism are the underlying threads of all his literary works.

Gitanjali is a culmination of his accumulated wisdom. This child prodigy churned out his first verse when he was 13.

Gitanjali is a timeless classic that centers on man’s eternal quest. It is a spiritual poetry of 103 beautifully weaved verses in orderly fashion. Through his work, Tagore shows the path towards the ultimate freedom.

Generally, we are attracted to poetry of rhythmic sounds which is not seen here. What matters here is sophistication of ideas and Tagore poured out his heart in  simple lucid words.

Had the Gurudev not translated Gitanjali into English, perhaps, his poetic beauty might have limited to Bengal only. By doing so, he gives large audience an opportunity to devour his poetry.

When you read Gitanjali, you could say that he became voice of India’s spiritual heritage. When, he was awarded the Nobel prize, vanity did not come on his way. This telegram he flashed on 10th December, 1913 for banquet speech of Award ceremony is strewn with spirituality “I beg to convey to the Swedish Academy my grateful appreciation of the breadth of understanding which has brought the distant near, and has made a stranger a brother”.

His poems are rhetorically simple with philosophical gravity. He left a heritage which no fire could consume, says the noted Bengali film director Satyajit Ray in his documentary on Rabindranath Tagore made in 1961. Ray terms his literature as heritage of words, poetry of ideas and ideals.

The great Irish poet W.B. Yeats who himself was Nobel laureate in 1923, in his Introduction to Gitanjali says that ‘though these prose translations from Rabindranath Tagore have stirred my blood as nothing has for years, I shall not know anything of his life, and of the movements of thought that have made them possible, if some Indian traveler will not tell me.’ Yeats made a sweeping remark that ‘We write long books where no page perhaps has any quality to make writing a pleasure, being confident in some general design, just as we fight and make money and fill our heads with politics – all dull things in the doing – while Mr. Tagore, like the Indian civilization itself, has been content to discover the soul and surrender himself to its spontaneity.

Gitanjali makes a fiery start with THOU HAST made me endless, such is thy pleasure. This frail vessel thou emptiest again and again, and fillest it ever with fresh life. At some other place, assuming himself as little flower, Tagore earnestly pleads Almighty “ PLUCK THIS little flower and take it, delay not! I fear lest it droop and drop into the dust.

The cornerstone of Gitanjali is this verse which could well-up your eyes with a sense of gratitude “My poet’s vanity dies in shame before thy sight. O master poet, I have sat down at thy feet. Only let me make my life simple and straight, like a flute of reed for thee to fill with music.’

While advising contentment in life,  Tagore portrays that “Day by day thou art making me worthy of the simple, great gifts that thou gavest to me unasked – this sky and the light, this body and the life and the mind – saving me from perils of overmuch desire.” Many more such soul-stirring verses in Gitanjali which are nuggets of wisdom takes your soul to new heights.

The real tribute we could pay to this master poet is to read Gitanjali in its entirety and try to grasp its inner dimension which is sublime, musical, mystical and thought provoking!

FORGOTTEN CLASSIC

 Folk wisdom demands  book review only for new books being published. But sometimes an exception needs to be drawn to some timeless classics of older times.

Dr. Alexis Carrel's book "Man the Unknown' falls under this category. It is a book that delves deep into understanding complex human system. This book is one of the three favorite books of Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam, the former President of India who mentioned this fact  in his book 'My Journey - Transforming Dreams into Actions (published in 2013).   In Dr.Kalam's own words, the book is a description of the human body - how it is an intelligent, integrated system - is explained clearly and brilliantly. He recommends the book for everyone, especially for those whose aim is to study the medical sciences.

Dr. Alexis Carrel is a Nobel laureate in Physiology/ Medicine in 1912. He spent his life promoting spiritualism. When this book was published in 1935, it became instant best seller,  because he cleverly separated the known from the unknown.

What he crystallizes is the existence of unknown and the unknowable. What he said more than eight decades decades ago still holds good, because we are still no way near to understanding the basic tenets of life which is self-organizing and also  in perfect symphony with Nature.

In fact, the development of science and technology has deepened the mystery of our own existence. Still we don't know where our memory is stored. According to Harvard Medical School professor Rudy Tanzi who is one of the world's foremost experts on the causes of Alzheimer's ( a disease of memory loss) says that we don't know where memory is stored at cellular level though we know that it is conjured up inside brain.

The book  is an interesting journey slowly unraveling truths of human system which is author's long labour and patient research.

Happiness is not a pill we can administer to a person. It is the look out of everybody. On this count, Dr. Carrel says that we can not artificially give any individual the formula for happiness.

His insights say that men of genius are not tall. Mussolin is of the medium size and Napolean was short. While answering the science's most puzzled question, Dr. Carrel says that we don't know the relationship between consciousness and nervous processes. It is still a mystery today to scientists how certain chemical reactions at sub atomic level in the body give the feeling of I'ness or subjective experience - qualia which they term it as 'hard problem'.

Dwelling on the significance of exercise,  Dr. Carrel says that certain exercises appear to stimulate thought. For this reason, he relates that Aristotle and his disciples were in the habit of walking while discussing the fundamental problems of philosophy and science. With regard to beauty, he says that the sense of beauty does not develop spontaneously. It exists in our consciousness in a potential state. On the importance of books, Dr. Carrel says that school teachers and university professors, as well as libraries, laboratories, books and reviews are adequate means for developing the mind. Even in the absence of professors, he says that books could suffice for this task.

The most striking advice from Dr. Carrel is 'work is more effective than alcohol'. The more a muscle works, he says the more it develops. Activity strengthens it, instead of wearing it out.

While analyzing the personality, Dr Carrel says that the richer the personality, the greater the individual differences. As he peels off man, he finds vast unknown regions whose potentialities are almost inexhaustible. Equilibrium, he says is obtained in a large measure by intelligence and self control. Dr. Carrel wraps up the book with this striking note : " We must liberate ourselves from blind technology and grasp the complexity and wealth of our own nature"

A must read book for holistic approach towards understanding the man who is the crown of creation.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

ETIQUETTE - DEAR COMMODITY IN CITIES

The other day when I was heading back to my home by Delhi Metro, one man in his late twentys approached me with a dry request to use my mobile phone. The manner he asked me just boiled my blood and I made a head gesture implying "NO". After s while, a middle-aged man who appeared to be educated asked me where is Jawahar Lal Nehru stadium ? He did not even mind to make an eye contact with the person he is requesting. It is pathetic that half of city crowds fall into this category.

I felt that these types people desperately need a crash course on communication skills simply not to win over interviewers but to
survive in a society where proper etiquette is the basic building block for enduring relationships.

Had the young man requested me in a proper convincing tone with sufficient reason,  I might have conceded to his request. But he  requested in a very crude way defying all the communication code. Equally the middle-aged man, out of arrogance tried to handle me which was bounced back with a cold response from my side.

My contention is,  people who want to request something from unknown persons on road must be sober enough to get a positive response. We are not living in a world where people come in queues to help you irrespective of your  behaviour. The way you talk and make gestures decide your fate in your public dealings.

Irrespective of your position on the social ladder, one needs to listen to his own inner voice which always says the way you should behave yourself. But sometimes, vanity overrides the sanity ! 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

GROWTH OF SCIENCE


The growth of science in the last 150 years is much more than what we achieved in all the earlier centuries put together.

On the technology front, wireless is new buzzword in any platform which not only cut costs but give seamless connectivity in areas like internet, telephony, signaling systems etc. Though the private sector is fetching a lot more benefits with   these technologies, but their contribution in the research is a lot be desired. This fallacy needs to be changed especially in India where science is not getting adequate contribution from the industry.

Revealing this chilling fact, C.N.R. Rao, head of the scientific advisory council to the Prime Minister of India said "Industry magnates such as Mukesh Ambani and Ratan Tata should loosen their purse strings". His anger is palpable. He further said that 50 per cent of research funding in the United States, Japan and South Korea comes from industry. Prof Rao reiterated that the government investment in science should be increased from 0.9 per cent to 2 per cent of the gross domestic product.

Considering the size of the population, India's contribution to science should match to the expectations,  but the ground level picture is so gloomy that,  of the top 1 percent of global research, India's contribution is less than 1 per cent... the USA's contribution is 63 percent. Poverty may be the single biggest cause for India's dismal performance in the field of science.

India's cutting edge scientific research is confined to government sector only with full funding by government only. If we invest more funds in scientific research, we could make rapid strides,  especially in space science like inter-planetary explorations where America is a  top-notch.

To set right the things in India's favour, at policy level, we must double the existing budget  of government   dealing with space science, atomic science and earth sciences so that more projects could be started and involve in quality research.

Having scientific temper is man’s basic instinct. It should be nurtured especially  in children so that their learning curve would grow with age.

As science is evolving day by day, we need to marshal more resources to bring a perceptible change in our lives !

Saturday, December 07, 2013

EMBODIMENT OF HAPPINESS

 People highly regard  a person if he/she sticks to selfless life style and become a messenger of peace even in the midst of turmoil in  his/her personal life.

The 14th Dalai Lama is known for his signature smile all over the world for the last half a century. Driven by the teachings of Buddha, Dalai Lama silently endured all the sufferings in his personal life. Showing a bountiful of compassion on fellow beings, no doubt that he stands before us as Messiah of Peace and Compassion.  Generally the  man of his age - 78  confines to one place to count the last days. But, his punishing schedules wonder anybody as he is a globetrotter through out the year without any iota of tiredness.

It is true that when a person develops an exemplary conduct, certainly he/she develops an energy center which emanates positive vibrations. Dalai Lama when he smiles, his child-like innocence mesmerises the onlookers.

When I read his book " The Art of Happiness- A handbook for living " co-authored with Howard C. Cutler. I cherished to meet him in person or atleast take a glance of that giant personality. But the desire remained unfulfilled until 1st December, 2013 when a friend of mine invited me to attend his lecture programme on ' Success & Happiness' at Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh. It was my first experience to see such live packed audience of above one thousand, many of them are corporate czars, executives, academicians, diplomats, students etc. It seemed that all the elite class of Delhi was there. The spacious auditorium with beautiful sitting arrangements added glory to the occasion.

During his talk on ' Success & Happiness, His Holiness lauded India which practised Ahimsa - Non-violence since thousands of years. The secular fabric of nation, he added, kept us united in the last 60 years of independence despite so many odds.

HH said that with compassion and motivation, every act becomes non-violence. He asked people to respect all religions. He equally stressed to respect non-believers. His central message is to promote basic human values in the society. He said that much of the problems are our own creation. He pointed out that the reason for insecurity is that you are less-loved. He asked everyone to train his/her mind at their own level. His focal point which inspired me a lot is : " my best friend is my own mind ''

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES - YOUR FACE TO THE WORLD !


 Sharing is basic human instinct.

Whether you  are in happiness or sorrow, you wish to share your feelings with your peers, loved ones or more appropriately with like-minded people. Those genuine emotions should come succinctly through appropriate medium to go the message straight into their minds.

All the social networking sites offer today is the dire need of this important  emotion.

These social networking sites now start acting as binding glue for connecting people to exchange multi-media – text messages, photos, videos - cutting across the geographical barriers which was once a distant reality. In fact, internet brought this silent revolution in front of us.

Social networking sites in fact, refined our expression. There was a time when people were not that much vocal in their view point nor could spend enough time to air their views openly as their private talks with peers remain locked up in their environs. That is past and now the social networking sites created platforms to bring private gossip to life and helped people united. The topics that figure more in such social networking sites now act as barometer to gauge the public opinion.

There was a time when you could connect to internet only with your computers and laptops. But now the technology liberated us to connect to internet even  on the go with tablet computers and smartphones. Life in today’s times is more of digital and less organic.

Those who can’t reap the benefits of this powerful medium definitely would lag behind. Irrespective of age group, one needs to be tech-savvy to grab the opportunities the technology offers. There is no denying in saying that you will be obscured in digital life if you are not part of social networking bandwagon.

Mark Zuckerberg, the 29 year old iconic CEO of Facebook has a noble mission to have a connected world. This Harward dropout’s ambitious project to make world more open and connected is really inspiring.

Today only 2.7 billion people, a little more than one third of the world’s population have internet access. Facebook with its impressive 1.5 billion active monthly global users is a top-notch in social networking websites. India with its 82 million active monthly users need a much more aggressive approach to reap the benefits of on-line phenomena.

India’s educated populace are still not vocal on so many aspects of governance. One possible reason may be their devoting less time on public issues. But one needs to respond to the current issues of the day and should liberally share his/her views so that the inputs will help governments to restructure their policies. Now a post or a comment in Facebook is a new ammunition to common man’s arsenal. Call it democratizing of information!  

Thursday, July 11, 2013

MORAL VALUES IN MONSTER METROPOLIS


You can’t blame the City which has a glorious past and historical significance since the days of Mahabharata.

But the gangrape incident of 16th December, 2012 in Delhi certainly gives a glimpse of underbelly of a rising metropolis. It is simply not a law and order issue but debilitating moral values especially in the younger class and the blame partly goes to technology.

When it comes to daily grind, Delhi is no different from other cities of world where everybody rushes  to their work from long distances and reach back  only at night irrespective of gender. The parents may not have time to monitor the activities of their children, especially at a cutting edge age group - teenage, an age where the teens want to experiment with everything they encounter in life. In fact, they do have enormous curiosity and inquisitive mind to grow not only  bodily but intellectually at a faster pace. Under these circumstances, if enough parental care is not taken , simply they fall into wrong hands and collapse their lives. By the time  parents realize this, considerable damage already happens.

So the parents must be very vigilant on the activities of their children and should not keep their minds empty but engage them in creative hobbies. If we start giving them more money indiscriminately and not monitor what they do with it, they  tread a wrong path.

The young generation which apes Western culture especially in their attire should pause and look back the rich culture we are inherited. Their contention that nobody should lend an evil eye on them irrespective of what they wear is not tenable. If any good Samaritan tries to advise something on their clothes, they complain of encroaching into their personal space. Alas, decency in public places is fast eroding in our cities.

Ever since the news of alleged objectionable content of CCTV footage of Delhi Metro trains on porn sites broke, it looks as if we are living in monster metropolis where the  technology is playing a spoilsport to malign the minds.

 It is not simply relying on hearsay but I have seen with my own eyes the intimate scenes of a couple in the walking area of Indraprastha Park in East Delhi. I failed to understand the logic of their open love making, polluting otherwise serene sunny evenings.   Equally perplexing is, neither the park authorities did anything to curb such acts, nor onlookers interfered in their nasty acts. I remain shell-shocked because, in the vicinity,  children are playing, and imagine what the children perceive and how it corrupts their minds !

It is simply not an isolated incident. An eye account of a dairy vendor gave me a jolt to my already torn mind. According to him, three college going girls approached him one day to enquire about cigarettes in his shop. When, he tried to admonish them, they angrily reacted that it was not his business to advise them ! The other day , I stood as silent witness to another shocking visual. It was in bustling market in Greater Kailash I in South Delhi where two boys and a girl were found exchanging a single cigarette.

What is missing is the fear of doing such dare-devil acts in public places. Nobody on the roads is prepared to take note of, nor alert concerned authorities.

Strict surveillance by all stakeholders parents, society and law enforcement agencies drastically reduce such low-moral acts in public places. Sometimes, I feel that we should have some stricter laws like Arab countries in West Asia where the atrocities against women is barest minimum.

Considering the delicacies of the issue, we should tackle the problem very carefully by first changing the value system both in men and women. The fear of punishment for such acts drastically curb the violence against women.

As long as the problem is not confronted at roots, we make little headway towards woman-incident-free society !

Sunday, July 07, 2013

LIVE THE LIFE YOU WANT RIGHT NOW !

 
 A lyric in my vernacular Telugu goes like this: "No use to have heaven in front of you, if you don't have liberty " It further says that ' there could be no merriment in doing things in your 60's which you were supposed to do in your 20's'

The highest goal of human existence is perpetual bliss which Hindus fondly call  'moksha'. Why we call it as a supreme goal is, because of our entanglement with daily affairs leaves no or little  space to think other than material comforts of life. Only few are blessed enough to have zeal and think beyond petty survival.


The very purpose of human birth is something go beyond the mundane existence. Happiness which we cherish in every act we do, is mostly begged from others. In that begging, we become so dependable on others. In order to win daily battles of life, we sometimes indulge in acts even when the heart says a firm 'No'.

Suppose, a man who feels the dying need for money did amass wealth to enjoy life. Imagine what happens ? In the first place, he can not put a tab on his need for more money. The more he starts earning, the more fierce his desire becomes. By the time, he knows the real happiness lies not outside but within himself, his end may come. It happens with majority of people who repent at death-bed cherishing the things they could have done much early in life but postponed continuously due to one reason or other.

The world is replete with countless examples of people not being able to enjoy simple pleasures of life, irrespective of their position on the social ladder. The surprising thing is when they come at their door, they simply shoo away, only to realise their credence afterwards.

Robin Sharma in his great book ‘Who will cry when you die ?’gave the plight of one father (who attended his seminar in Toronto) about his not giving piggyback ride to his son. The father says that “ while my son was growing up, he constantly asked me to give piggyback rides and I was always too busy to play with him. Now he had grown up and I am prepared to give anything to give that little son (now young man) a piggyback ride”. The time once gone means, gone forever !

So the wisdom of present moment awareness should always prevail. Henry David Thoreau, in his monumental work 'Walden' beautifully portrays that the occupation of a day-labourer is the most independent of any professions. He says that the labourer's day ends with the going down of the sun and he is then free to devote himself to his chosen pursuit, independent of his labour. But his employer, who speculates from month to month, has no respite from one end of the year to the other.

So live the life you want right now with available means before your time is run out ! 

Friday, April 19, 2013

BUSINESS NOT AS USUAL !


The man who will use his skill and constructive imagination to see how much he can give for a dollar, instead of how little  he can give for a dollar, is bound to succeed.

                           – Henry Ford

There is a Chinese proverb that if you can't smile, don't open a shop !

The whole secret of business centers on this precept, but few take this lesson too seriously.

Honestly, if this gesture is brought in, it would  have a profound impact on the business we do. So the eternal mantra for businessman is to treat customers with warmth. Those who earn this quality will see a sea of difference.

Richard Branson, the English business tycoon with more than 400 companies under Virgin Group defines business as something involving, fun, and it has to exercise your creative instincts. Thomas Watson, the former CEO and chairman of IBM adds that you should have your heart in your business and your business in your heart.

The businessman could achieve huge success in his venture if he has an alertness of a soldier, hard work of a player, concentration of a scientist, enthusiasm of a student, , presence of mind of an actor and optimism of a trekker.

The relationship he is trying to forge with customer should be a lasting one with quality as a buzzword. If he builds trust with customers based on honesty and mutual benefit, the demand for his product remains perennial.

Why some people may not succeed in business is due to the fact that they think in a monotonous way and expect miracles to do their business.

Creativity on daily basis should be a hallmark of any business.

The most successful business people refine their business strategies constantly and sometimes wisdom comes from unexpected quarters. India's auto-mobile giant Anand Mahindra makes spider as his guru because it starts spreading its web from the point it feels convenient. So the Sutra is : instead of waiting at which point you have to start, better to start immediately than wailing for an opportune moment.

Narayana Murthy of India’s software giant Infosys says that innovation should be prime driving force for any business. He advises business people to innovate on daily basis. He adds that creativity coupled with team work will pay high dividends in business. Mumbai's Dabba wala epitomize the highest ethical standards in business. Countless management graduates of international repute  interact with them regularly to know their business secrets and their networking skills especially their abilities to precisely  to deliver hot food to office goers  in bustling Mumbai City.

History is replete with countless examples of so many successful business people who built their empires with quality and innovation as prime fuel. So before you venture into any business,  don't forget these immortal words of America's iconic steel magnate Charles M. Schwab : The man who does not work for the love of work,  but only for money is not likely to neither make money nor find much fun in life.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

BUFFETT's BEST ADVICE


Money is a handmaiden, if thou knowest how to use it ; a mistress, if thou knowest not.

                 - Horace (Roman Poet)

People generally give a lending ear to listen a word of advice from a prominent person of society.   If that advice comes from one of the richest persons on planet, it would attract more eyeballs.

Warren Buffett, one of the wealthiest men on this planet is undisputedly the fountain of advice both on financial and personal arena.

In the era of glittering websites to enrich their looks, Buffett’s company Berkshire Hathaway Inc’s website is so simple and elegant. It not only loads swiftly but also clutter free, leaving no room for confusion to obtain required information.

The website of Buffett epitomizes his philosophy of life. If we peep into his personal life, it is apparent that he regrets of buying his first share at the age of 11 years which he feels too late.

This American business magnate and the most successful investor of 20th century has very humble beginning. He started earning income at a very early age by selling newspapers.

In these days of lavish life styles, Warren still lives in a small 3 bedroom house in the mid-town Omaha (U.S) which he bought 50 years ago. Further he drives his own car everywhere and does not have a driver or security people around him.

He never travels by private jet. He writes only one letter each year to the CEOs of his companies, giving them goals for the whole year. He never holds meetings or calls them on a regular basis. He has given his CEO’s only two rules : Rule Number : 1 : do not lose any of your share money. Rule Number 2 : Do not forget rule number 1

Buffett does not carry a cell phone nor has a computer on his desk. After first meeting with Buffett, Bill Gates (Microsoft) became his instant devotee. Buffett’s advice to young people : Stay away from credit cards (bank loans). He says that money does not create man but it is the man who creates money. He further says that live your life as simple as possible.

The most stunning advice of Buffett which caught my attention is : Don’t waste your money on unnecessary things ; just spend on them who really in need rather.

When I read about Buffett, I was terribly inspired by his exemplary life style. Prevailing on the wisdom of simplicity even at the height of success and wealth is really inspiring.

 Hats off to this man of ultimate simplicity ! 

Monday, March 18, 2013

CREAM OF WISDOM

In the river of mind, thoughts are like never-ending ripples. In fact, they are the seed form of our actions. That's why it is quite essential to segregate the productive ones from the  bucket list.

The Search giant Google’s Marketing czar Gopi Kallayil’s (Indian origin) foremost strategy to mange his life is: Focus on Essential.

To focus on essentials, you  have to strike a balance between left and right brain activities. The how of it is best described by German philosopher Goethe who suggests that ‘one should, each day, try to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and if it is possible, speak a few reasonable words. If we allow the creative activities to play their part, we know the priorities of life in a much better way which would help to bring out the best in us.

In fact the Creator is not biased and each one of us are endowed with some unique qualities which the other person has not. Therefore we should not allow our talents die inside of us. Norman Cousins says that the tragedy of life is not death but what we let die inside of us while we still live. So it is time to prevail on the wisdom, instead of drifting away with impulse which only cause  much more distraction and agony.

Gopi’s another strategy is ‘Do one thing at a time’. This is undisputedly the subtle lesson we must learn. In the hustle and bustle of daily life, we are inclined to do more than one activity simultaneously at any given time feeling pride that we are managing time efficiently. But we don’t know how it is taking its toll. The curse of continuous partial attention is affecting the quality of our life. If you set our foot on too many activities at the same time, you end up nowhere. In fact, our brains are not equipped for multi-tasking at conscious level. Alexander Graham Bell rightly says that concentrate all your thoughts upon the work on hand. He further says that sun’s rays don’t burn until brought to a focus.

In order to take the things closer to heart, inner integrity is utmost important which one personality development guru advises us to operate ‘Daily Personal Integrity Account’ to gauge whether or not it follows the whip. Instead of plug and play syndrome, our actions should be based on our own experience learnt from life.

Gopi’s last strategy is : Friend yourself. He says that it matters little how many friends you have on Facebook or Twitter. He further says that it also matters little how greatly you are networked in life. Unless you are good friend of your own self, nothing worthwhile could be achieved. We must make our minds to recognize the fact that the daily chunks of solitude bring a new level of wisdom in life. It is the only way to friend with ourselves. In those solitary times, we reflect upon a day’s activities so as to prepare ourselves for other day's work with more precision, vigour and alacrity. This is the cream of wisdom which you could neglect at  your  own peril. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

LESSONS TO BE LEARNT FROM DELHI GANG-RAPE INCIDENT


The Delhi gang rape incident brought so many chilling facts to limelight. It is simply not an isolated heinous crime occurred in a  city.

The manner in which the girl was mercilessly thrown out naked after rape from a moving bus in the heart of city roads on that shivering winter night - 16th December, 2012 – that sent jitters across the country .

The incident mirrors our distressing times where everybody is trying to stress more of governmental action.

We are in fact living in a fear-centered society and view our immediate neighbor as potential enemy. Our response to extend help to fellow beings is calculated, based on so many metrics, because we act fear as a center and trust as a periphery.

The unanswered questions in the gang rape episode are : Why the passers-by did not stop to help the victim when she was lying in a pool of blood on the road nakedly on that dreadful winter night ? Why the response time of law enforcement agencies is tardy ?

Had it been occurred in an isolated corner of the country, perhaps the issue would have not raised the conscience of Young India who like never before, expressed their solidarity through candlelight vigils and mass agitation programmes across cities/towns/ villages.

It is palpable that the death of rape victim slid her family into deep agony and the family of that girl must digest the enduring ordeal.

Now young educated class armed with strong networking skills are revolting against the Establishment like never before. That's why the Angry Indian became the News-maker of year 2012 by a reputed Indian news magazine.

In the first place, why such incidents of rape and molestation occur ? What motive drives man to indulge in such nasty acts ? Noted spiritual guru of India Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev in response to Delhi rape incident says that the inherent problem lies in man treating woman as a commodity rather a soul-mate. He further says that woman is simply not a sum of body parts. This idea needs to be diluted and a consistent value system should be developed based on morality and ethical values which result into societal transformation.

When raw emotions take over the mind, sensible action can’t be expected. The placard of one agitator says " My dress is not a yes'. Her words make no sense at all. If a girl/ woman wears a skimpy attire, then there is every likelihood of brewing troubles from male predators. So the attire she wears matters a lot.

It was  shocking to note how some men in a recent protest march against rape incident in Delhi groped women in a crowd. One analyst opines that the cities have no recreational spaces for young men. I feel that reading habits among educated young are abysmally low and majority of them are solely relying on filmy kind of entertainment where they hum songs of Salman Khan ' Character dheela hai'.

The free flow of information and personalization of internet have opened the floodgates of fantasy. Now a days, it is not a big deal to get sexually explicit material from the Web where it is freely available and law enforcement agencies could not do anything to prevent it.

Majority of newspapers which wrote tomes on Delhi Gang-rape incident on front pages are silently pushing their semi-nude photos in steamy advertisements on back-pages which further corrupt the young minds.

Simply shedding crocodile tears will not salvage the situation. The conduct of children in adolescence must be kept under scanner by parents before the situation slips out of control. Equally the law enforcement  agencies should be swift to bring the culprits to justice. When the problem of this kind is not resolved with iron fist within family environment, it will continue to rise its ugly head.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

FOUNTAIN OF YOUTHFUL ENERGY

12th January every year marks  'National Youth Day'. Coincided with it, India celebrated 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda on 12th January, 2013.

Vivekananda is synonymous with rousing enthusiasm and youthful energy. Though the soil of Bengal has given birth to so many spiritual masters like Ramakrishna, Lahiri Mahasaya, Paramahamsa Yogananda, Rabindranath Tagore, Arabindo Ghosh, no other had huge public outreach like Swami Vivekananda. This darling child of Mother India propagated the message of Indian Spirituality beyond national boundaries.

Whoever remembers Vivekananda,  they are engraved with his famous Chicago Speech in the Parliament of Religions on 11th September, 1893. It had an electrifying effect on American minds of that time and literally created waves in their society.

Narendranath Datta (Vivekananda's family name) was born on Monday January 12, 1863 to Bhuvaneswari Devi and Viswanath Datta in Kolkata. Naren soon showed a precocious mind and developed a keen memory. Vivekananda in his later years once said to an audience that " I am indebted to my mother for whatever knowledge I have acquired.'   At the age of fifteen he experienced his first spiritual ecstasy.

Naren had first heard about Sri Ramakrishna from a relative, Ramachandra Datta who was one of the foremost householder disciples of the Master.   Having understood his spiritual bent of mind, he was advised to visit Ramakrishna at Dakshineswar.  Naren met Ramakrishna for the first time in November 1881 in the house of the Master's devotee Surendranath Mitra.  He was invited there to entertain the visitors with his melodious music. Having been impressed, Ramakrishna asked Narendra to visit him at Dakshinewar. During the meeting when Naren posed Ramakrishna a question "Sir, have you seen God ? the master replied without a moment's hesitation " Yes, I have seen God.’’ He further said him that ‘’ I had seen God like I saw you.’’ Narendra was astounded with the master’s reply.  Ramakrishna in fact waited the eager arrival of Narendra to whom he transferred his spiritual energy thereby, he became a World Teacher with his first visit to America and later to Europe and other countries.

Ramakrishna knew the energies of Vivekananda. The master in his own words said that “among lotuses, Narendra is a thousand-petaled one”. Naren assumed the name of Vivekananda at the time of his departure for America in 1893.

Vivekananda's famous Chicago speech at Parliament of World's Religions on 11th Sept., 1893 with his starting salutation "Brothers & Sisters of America" enthralled the seven thousand packed audience. His extempore talk captivated the audience and sprouted the seeds of eastern spirituality on American minds.

The influence of Swamiji on stalwarts like Mahatma Gandhi and Subhash Chandra Bose not only enriched their personal lives but contributed immensely in liberating India from British clutches. What we need to learn from Swamiji's life is his inquisitive mind. 

Reading his literature stirs the blood with mystical spiritual energy. The core philosophy of Vivekananda centers on divinity within us. While defining education, he says that it is the manifestation of perfection already in man.

Vivekananda in his brief sojourn of 39 years on this planet has literally brought a spiritual revolution. He is the first Indian who propagated the Message of India on Western soil. Swamiji's words are like live ammunition which trigger us into deep thought process, sharpening our intellect and bring utmost humility. Swamiji is a hardcore pragmatist. What he taught, he lived through. He exemplified the life of Advaita philosophy.

He is a living embodiment of what an ordinary man could achieve even without sufficient ways and means but only an iron will to spread the message of his Master.

As long as Indian philosophy lives through this civilization, Vivekananda remains the torch-bearer of that Wisdom at  world at the world stage.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

BOOK BUYING TIPS



Recently I had my fingers burnt when I bought a book from local store whose price was shockingly high when I compared the price with the online bookstores.

It spin my head and alerted my  course of action forever on book purchases.

I realized that ordering books online is not only hassle free, but cost effective. Further more, it reaches my doorsteps instantly, saving money on transport and valuable time, thanks to the boon of technology.

However, the moot point is, could we completely ignore a visit to local book store ? The answer is a  big No.  There is no dispute in saying that purchasing a book needs a cursory glance of its contents to gauge our requirement, instead of being deceived by its title, especially in self-help category.

However, when you visit most of Indian online book stores you find the difference apparent. You can’t view the table of contents of a book/ front & back cover of books being published by Indian publishers which is not the case with foreign publications when you visit Amazon.com. It offers a free inside view of books which immensely benefit the readers to decide whether or not to purchase a particular book.

In this world of free flow of information, it is the crying need to remove this disparity by Indian Publishing companies to facilitate Indian readers to view cursory glance of  books, like Amazon is doing for foreign publications. By doing so, the prospect of marketing of good books widens.

Once you decide to buy a  book , it is prudent to compare its price from online bookstores. To do this normally you have to manually visit individual online bookstore sites which is a tedious process. It requires not only effort and time, but expertise to search from burgeoning e-commerce websites to strike a good deal.

Recently I come across a website Indiabookstore.net which seamlessly does all the spade work for you from eleven online bookstores and suggest you the price along with vendors website direct links, thereby helping book lovers to get the desired books at a throw away prices. This way you could save yourself from the hard-nosed bookstore vendors.
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