The #RightToLive

There is a topic trending these days on Twitter – the #RightToBreathe. I was pouring over the opinion of the Twitteratti – it is about different takes on who is responsible for this and how this should be handled. For a moment let me divert from this topic to something little different.

In a corporate environment we are taught about how to bring efficiency. How we go about handling certain tasks that are on priority and move some of them to the bottom of the list? I am talking about the “Eisenhower’s Urgent/Important Principle” where we place the tasks to the four quadrants depending upon their urgency and importance. I had been asked many times – how does it help … which quadrant should we focus upon. My answer has always been “picking up the tasks that are important but not urgent”. The reason is if we procastinate on these Important but Not Urgent tasks there is the likelihood that they will move to the quadrant belonging to Urgent and Important category very soon. This quadrant is the most dangerous one, as these tasks will eventually drain our precious resources and energy.

Now let me go back to my original topic. The situation at hand at New Delhi is resultant of poor planning. Pretty bad situation indeed.

The #RightToBreathe is a situation that rightly fits into that quadrant that is so urgent and important. It is bothering everybody now. Who is to blame? Is it the poor governance or is it that the citizens of independent India are not sensitive enough and doing all things that are not correct for the Environment or the Mother Nature?

It is the culmination of all, everyone should take the blame for this situation and not just the folks at the Raisina Hill.

So where have we failed exactly? In my opinion it is not just one particular area but all possible things that can go wrong have gone so from bad to worse. Why am I saying bad? This had been our state of affairs even when the British left India. The early years post Independence period had been quite a struggle for all. There were challenges galore. The country had been plundered and looted by our erstwhile rulers for decades. The policies that were adopted during pre Independence period were terribly biased towards protecting their own interests. Our forefathers were forced to use the essential commodities – all but made in Great Britain. Our home-grown Steel Industry, Textiles Industry were all left for wanting. Our farmers were not aware of modern ways of cultivation. The green revolution and the industrial revolution could never reach the shores of the Indian subcontinent owing to the apathy shown by our colonial masters. Our farmers weren’t aware of the nuances of cultivation two times per season. The result was that the country faced severe shortage of essential food grains during those days. We needed to import the simplest of the simplest things. The vast majority of the population remained lower middle class.

The political leadership post Independence period was the most confused lot. The policy decisions that were made since then by the successive governments were definitely not to address the long term common good but mostly to protect their seats of power for as long as they could. Our political leadership kept experimenting with Socialistic form of governance assuming that this will reap rich dividend for the country.

Just take a look at the challenges faced by our forefathers during their time – whether it was the ever growing population, or the failing education system, the poverty all around, poor fiscal status of our national treasury, or the lack of integrity in our attitude and last but not the least the looming threat of war with our immediate neighbors. Not much has changed in these seventy years. We are all challenged with bad roads, population that is growing exponentially year after year putting pressure on our natural resources, the ever crumbling infrastructure, the public servants all but eager to extort from the common class at the drop of a hat, an education system that is not producing the best of the talents … too bad. The lucky few who gain entry to the top institutions such as the IITs, IIMs that gets funding from the common public money … a majority of these individuals never really end up serving the country instead preferring greener pastures outside India.

Well, one good thing that has happened is that a large percentage of our population now has suddenly realized that we need to talk more often than before thereby making the cell phone as an essential national commodity these days. Right from that friendly neighborhood vegetable vendor, the known rickshawwalla or that household support staff or even the mason … everyone needs one of these wonder toys.

The Indian Railways is giving free Wi-Fi at major railway stations across India. The last that I heard that Patna junction witnessing the largest internet traffic ever since. If you thought that passengers transiting through this station are doing some serious business with this privilege, then you are wrong. It is about large scale download of porn material.

Well, this has been the state of affairs with us. The general attitude is to make hay when the sun shines, even if it is not morally correct. We take advantage of the loopholes of the systems that are in place such as making money but not pay the taxes, not follow the rules when no one is watching … and the list is endless. So that is about the general attitude of our countrymen, is it so better with our policy makers. As soon as they win the election they consider themselves nothing less that Kings and keep harping for more and more facilities and privileges. Unfortunately they never consider themselves that they are servants of the very general public who had sent these dolts to the temple of democracy. It doesn’t matter which political ideology they belong to, the core attitude remains nearly identical across all political class. We don’t get to see meaningful debates within the policy makers on crucial issues. The opposition opposes each and every policy decision taken by the government making it a constant struggle for the ruling class to conduct business in the house.

The issues that should be accorded “Important but not so Urgent” tag always get pushed to the bottom of the list and thus we see how things change from “bad to worse”. It is fire fighting every time in our nation and our struggle continues.

Right now we are talking about the alarming pollution levels in our nation’s capital New Delhi. It is the Haze everywhere … isn’t it synonymous with the state of affairs of each and every sphere of our life. It is all hazy all around.

I do not intend to finish this write up on too much negative tone. Plenty of good progress also has happened over the last decades. How can we forget the opening up of the country’s economy that lacked the much needed investment? We get to see the very best of the companies eyeing for that pie of the Indian market. Companies like Jaguar Land Rover and Corus getting acquired by Indian business houses is good news for India. India is reckoned as one of the hottest and happening investment destinations. The economy is growing at the pace of 6 to 7 percent and particularly at a time when there is a slump globally. So that is very good indeed. The “Make in India” initiative from the current government seems the right thing and will definitely help develop the domestic industry in a big way. Our space program had been super successful and the space launch industry seems to be growing very well. How can we forget the successful launch of Mangalyaan and India becoming one among the four countries that could put a satellite into Mars’ orbit on its very first attempt? The Light Combat Aircraft is another good example that has been developed with indigenous efforts and those who have seen it say it is world class.

Indian athletes are faring better in International tournaments and making their country proud, is indeed a silver lining for us. However not many parents prefer to risk their children these days taking sports as full time profession – and we are not talking about Cricket alone. So something needs to be done here seriously.

Well, its miles to go … and I am ever optimistic. I dream of a day when our youth need not travel far away from their home states in pursuit of higher education or employment. Be it the farthest corner of the North East or the westernmost corner of Gujarat, from the tip of Jammu and Kashmir or the southernmost point of Kerala – our countrymen deserve to have their fundamental needs fulfilled. No one should be seen as wanting for food, shelter, medical help or basic education.

If not now, then never – we need to shed our old ways of functioning and bring about a change. We owe it to our next generation.

The #RightToLive is our birthright.

It is the “Natural Frequency” after all.

As soon as the call gets connected, this individual starts blowing hot and cold every time. I followed this trend of conversation with this individual over the last few years and observed that none of the discussion ended with a happy note.

As this individual belongs to my innermost circle of blood relations, naturally I feel concerned about the well being and feel the need to touch base. But each and every time that the call ends, I keep thinking that why the conversation started in the first place. I would eventually dread to speak to this individual again in the future. The whole of the few minutes that we spend talking with each other – I wonder what was lacking. Well, those dreadful few minutes definitely lack tact, warmth, graciousness and mutual respect.

Is it that we have forgotten the natural art of conversation?

Blame it on the “Natural Frequency” of our system. In the common layman’s term “It is the usual and the most natural way that any living or non living being reacts whenever instigated”.

There is a famous animal fable where a scorpion asks a frog to carry it across a river. The frog hesitates, afraid of being stung, but the scorpion argues that if it did so, they would both drown. Considering this, the frog agrees, but midway across the river the scorpion does indeed sting the frog, dooming them both. When the frog asks the scorpion why, the scorpion replies that it was in its nature to do so.

We cannot alter the natural state from which we have been created. But a part of it can be influenced definitely. It is our core belief system that goes through several influences throughout our lifetime. The environment, the neighbors, our education background, our circle of friends, the life partner we choose – all of them reign supreme in shaping this belief system.

Call it “Quantum physics” or “Finite Elements” in scientific terms. All are quite same in the literal sense. Our overall belief system is influenced at the core cellular level and these information are the experiences accumulated over our lifetime. It is believed that the “Universe” gives us back whatever we believe at the “sub conscious” level.

There is an interesting passage that I came across few years back from a book by Robert Fulghum – “In the Solomon Islands in the south Pacific some villagers practice a unique form of logging. If a tree is too large to be felled with an ax, the natives cut it down by yelling at it. Woodsmen with special powers creep up on a tree just at dawn and suddenly scream at it at the top of their lungs. They continue this for thirty days. The tree dies and falls over.

We may dismiss this theory as some superstitious practice, but we may not ignore the powerful message hidden underneath. Words can have so much power and if we fail to choose the right ones, it can break many hearts. We can kill the spirit of a relationship with poor choice of words.

If we keep feeding our conscious mind with loads of falsehood assuming they are true – deep down at the subconscious level one starts believing them as heavenly truth. These thought patterns may become so toxic with passage of time that it may alter the personality altogether. It is necessary to introduce a thorough cleansing of these subconscious level thought patterns from time to time while we evolve.

It is all about the “Law of Attraction”. We manifest what we believe at our deep rooted subconscious level. “Radiate good vibes” – I heard this from a thinker.

A state of higher vibration consciousness attracts positive things in life whereas with lower vibration consciousness we end up attracting the not so pleasant things. Engaging in creative hobbies or physical exercise or keeping good company are some proven methods to help us “Keep in high spirits” and “Raise our Vibrations”.

Like as they say – “Idle Mind is Devil’s Den!” – So never allow the mind to wander as it may be akin to a “Ship without a sail”.

Pressures of Growing up as the Mama’s Goody Boy.

You should not get close to this guy. He drinks.” The parents in the neighborhood would think that this is the perfect way to protect their wards from these social sins. They would cleverly opt for this tactic assuming that the sinners within the neighborhood would never get any closer to their children and spoil them. Stories abound about some distant relations staying in the bigger towns on party ways and as if that was not enough they also “drank” during such occasions. Too bad!

During those days especially the boys were raised with strict code of conduct to ensure a good image in the society. It was not uncommon to see the so called goody boys wearing their shirt fully buttoned up till their chin, have their hair well oiled, combed, flattened, giving a shiny texture, never utter any swear words, do not talk back to the elders in protest and should always be seen immersed in studies. If any of these unfortunate souls were found to have dared to speak with the girls from the neighborhood, well that spelt doom for them instantly. It was so strict.

Those were the unspoken rules though not set on stone by the parents but were considered as minimum set of expectations from their male children. Some of us dared to try the “Beeri” (Indian Cigar) secured from the domestic help or even take a sip of freshly brewed “Toddy” (a kind of palm juice extract) or even curiously turn the pages of some magazine stealthily procured from the road side magazine shops that showed explicit and sensuous content.

Did we ever get caught? Yes indeed on few occasions and were subjected to the severest reprimand from our elders for committing a crime that was nothing less than looting a bank in their eyes. In short anyone daring to deviate from any of these unspoken rules would be branded as going wild and getting spoilt to the core. A total “gone case”!

Parents dreaded from this very possibility, would keep up the vigil and keep the invisible psychological pressure.

Looking back now I feel that the notion of having a clean image was a concept of the parents during those days. They linked their own standing within the society with how their children behaved and how these kids carried themselves in the neighborhood.

It is a different fact that some of these so called spoilt brats during those days are super successful in their lives today. They are living their lives on their own terms and as far as I know most of their body parts are intact and healthy. Many of these folks are super smart and are leading a very contented and happy life. During their growing up years many of these kids from that generation dared to question the status quo often inviting the wrath of the elders during those days. I think most of this rebellious behavior was primarily an act of defiance and to exhibit a deviation from the typical stereotype.

On the other hand those who never dared to try out the “forbidden fruit” grew up as timid personality and are leading a life that is less than ordinary.

I feel this is grossly wrong. How is this tackled in the western countries? Well, firstly this is no big deal in these nations. As the children grow up, the level of interaction between a parent and child changes. The rules of engagement between a parent & adult child is completely different than what is between parent & young child. The parents change their attitude towards their children as they grow up and become more like friends to them.

A boy and a girl can be close buddies and their closeness need not be understood as boyfriend-girlfriend thing. We are seeing a spate of crimes committed against women across the country. I feel that the society as a whole is at fault. It has become too gender biased and especially male centric. During the growing up years it is essential that the boys in the family be allowed the exposure to freely mix with their female friends. This will help them when they grow up to clearly differentiate between “friendship” and “physical intimacy”.

Having resided in western countries for many years myself, I have witnessed how my male western friends would do to woo a prospective female partner. Wooing a female partner is an art that they usually master from their early days and I must say they do it with more finesse and in the most dignified manner. They try to first understand the psyche of the prospective female partner and accordingly plan the next steps to sweep her off her feet with much dignity. Rejection from either side is considered to be part of the process and taken sportingly. Causing physical hurt is something unheard of.

Similarly “smoking”, “drinking”, “swear words” is an individual choice and should be left to the individual when they are grown up adults. I have seen many from my close relations who are grown up adults now and are independent earning professionals but are too shy to let their parents know that they drink or smoke. I feel that the parents of today need to change their mindset. Why should they stop loving if they come to know that the mama’s boy from yesterday has become adventurous in his adulthood – be it a casual smoke or an occasional alcoholic drink? Accept your children when they grow up as they are, instead of judging them for their occasional smoke or drinks. Obviously if someone is indulging too much on these then it naturally is a matter of concern and may need some serious scolding. But having fun and getting drunk occasionally is no big deal.

It is definitely much ado about nothing.

A Letter To My Daughter

Dear Beta,

I have always intended to pen my thoughts reflecting my personal experience of life but could never put them in the right perspective. Let me make an attempt now and share with you something that will give you gentle guidance and help you hang around there for as long as you want and be happy.

Life will offer you with your free will choices and it is up to you which one you take. If you can keep yourself firmly grounded, you will always find yourself on the right path. There are times you may need to choose between known knowns as well as certain amount of known unknowns. These are the times when you need to rely on the values that you are brought up with and take a leap of faith. It will be risk worth taking and you will never regret. Trust your instincts and you will get the divine guidance. The bottom-line here is you need to be deeply rooted to your fundamental values and principles and never compromise on them.

Remember your younger days when you were just learning to walk. You started with baby steps and as parents we felt so proud. You did not learn to walk just like that. You fell down you got up and tried walking again. This is about life. You may not always win. There will be situations where the decisions may not go your way. Never give up, hang in there. All you need to do is to pause for a while, reflect and see if there is anything to learn from that situation. This is vital to your future success.

I always considered our lives like a journey in a train. The train starts from one station and reaches its destined station. There will be many who will embark the train midway this journey and disembark to another station on the way or maybe stick around till the very end. Likewise we meet people during the course of our life’s journey in the form of relations or friends. We lose some of them mid way this journey but some may end up hanging around with us till the lifetime.

How we build our network of relations is crucial to our survival, be it from our blood relations or from the simple acquaintances we make. These individuals need not be from the same age group as yours, but all that is important is how you tend and nurture this friendship.

Are you surprised that it is me who is preaching on this matter? You have reasons to be, as you know that I myself have a very small number of people whom I can call as my pals. I simply keep wondering why I can simply not mix with anyone or everyone under the sky. I personally am a very introverted kind of a person throughout and have always preferred to hang around with people whose wavelength matched with mine. Am I too judgmental? Maybe yes, but this is wrong and I am not too proud of this quality of mine. I am trying to mend on this aspect of mine and it remains a work in progress for me. I am too emotional and a hypersensitive person. You should not follow my example. The wisdom here is that we should never burn the bridge come what may. Within your network of friends and acquaintances there will be some who you are very close and some with whom not so much. I think that is perfectly fine and very natural. The most important part is to not judge anyone when you are very angry or when you are too happy with them. The right people will stick by your side always whenever you need them. Believe me the bigger this core group, the bigger will be your sense of security along the way. You will have a greater sense of falling back on them when you need the most with full trust.

You don’t need to solve the entire world’s problem. But yes, you should show sensitivity of what is going around you and try your best to do something if you can help improve on them. A word of caution here is that you should not draw too much of negative energy on yourself while doing so. You can offer positivity to others and do good to them only when you have sufficient to offer. Do not allow yourself to drain out so much when it starts affecting your life in a negative way. You will know very well when it will be the perfect moment for time out, take a pause and replenish back with the good energies.

Believe in your own karma. The divine will always support you in subtle ways. As they have said, you reap what you have sowed and this is very true. Your mother and I would often discuss that there are so many around us who hardly do any good to others but keep enjoying the rich bounties. I personally feel that this is very karmic. Those who are enjoying the bounties may have done some good deeds in the past and god is kind to them now. But I also believe that it is very human attitude to go astray and start feeling ourselves invincible whenever we are offered the life’s richness. These are the people who start hurting others and do everything possible to make other’s life miserable just because they feel that they are in a better situation. They just forget the simple law of our divine nature – “what goes around – comes around”.

It is essential to inculcate good human qualities. We need to inspire others with our deeds and spread the message of positivity all around. You should be remembered for your deeds and good qualities. You do not need to be religious to get closure to the divine supreme. Be spiritual at heart and believe in the laws of karma. It will always attract the good things for you.

I know you have always asked yourself questions on what you want to do next. It is important to strategize on the next steps in life be it professional or personal. On the professional front you need to fathom the areas of strengths in your nature and then choose the right career path. Do not choose something that you do not personally enjoy. You should have short term and long terms goals on career front. Never hesitate to consult individuals who have the right perspective and experience. Make them your Guru as you go along. There should be clarity in what you are doing and how it is going to help you in your longer terms goals. The early years of your career is vital and will help you build a strong foundation for your future. So make the most of the opportunities that you are offered and learn as much as you can. The harvest you sow in the early years will help you reap the rewards later in your life.

As your parents we will always support you with the choice you make and what makes you happy. We never pressurized you with choices that you did not agree with. Getting good scores in school is good but we never felt that it is too crucial to be successful in life. But we have always emphasized that it is a combination of many things that will make you successful. You have always made us proud in academics. It is the finer human qualities that you develop, the leadership qualities, setting a good example yourself, how you are able to inspire others to bring their best – these are the stuff that will bring you the ultimate success.

We have always allowed you to follow your hunch. Well there are exceptions though. As your father I wanted you to take Guitar lessons as I felt you have it in you. There are times when you feel irritated when I am behind you to practice more. I don’t wish to make it sound hypocritical, but there should be some amount of pressure that will help you with an overall holistic development as an individual. You should develop lot of creative hobbies. These are going to help you enjoy the richness of life. As parents your ma and I have always felt proud with your accomplishments. Be it your academics or your hobby ideas, you have always shown the hunger for learning. I always admire your quest in creative aspects such as cooking, baking, writing, public speaking – so keep it up.

Believe in the “Law of attraction” – positive attracts positive. So keep practising your craft and try to remain positive. Do not invest too much in negative aspects rather be positive and manifest only the best. Do not get carried away during the good times, at the same time try to remain calm and cool under trying circumstances.

Believe in yourself, take pride on your personal principles and values, have confidence and know who you are. Do the things that you feel right.

Take regular vacations and recharge your batteries. Exercise regularly and eat the right stuff. There is no harm in indulging in the bad stuff occasionally though.

Enjoy the bounties that the Mother Nature has to offer. Explore new places and the cultures.

Don’t follow the trend.

You are destined to create many beautiful things in life. Sky is the limit for you.

With lots of love and blessings from your Papa.