Saturday, February 28, 2009


Kishore Biyani is the founder of Big Bazar, Pantaloon, INOX etc. , a new generation of businesses which became highly successful with pan-India presence. The following article of him which appeared in today's TOI is an excellent one. 

You have nothing to fear but fear itself

Kishore Biyani 

    Darr ke aagey jeet hai. Conquer fear and you can conquer anything. I learnt this fairly early while growing up in a joint family along with 13 siblings and cousins. 
    Every evening, we would gather around our grandmother to hear her stories. One of her favourite stories revolved around five pilgrims who were on a journey to the holy places in the Himalayas. On a bitterly cold night, they arrived at a dharamshala. It had only one room and the gatekeeper warned them against staying there as legend had it that it was inhabited by a big snake. He told them no 
one had ventured inside for years. On hearing this, the pilgrims decided to play safe and spend the night in the open. 
    After a few shivering hours, one of them overcame his fear and decided to check the room. On entering, he didn’t 
find a snake. Instead, a rope lay on the floor. In the dark it resembled a snake. But the other pilgrims didn’t believe the account and decided to sleep outside. The brave one slept soundly; for his fellow travellers it was a long night. 
    As my grandmother would explain, failure exists only in one’s imagination. We fear failure, because we fear criticism, ridicule or rejection. But the truth is that 
anyone who has been successful has failed at some stage of their life. From failure comes knowledge of what works and what doesn’t; from failure comes knowledge of one’s strengths and weaknesses and it’s from failure that one begins a more determined attempt to achieve success. As one grows up therecomes the realization that there is no standard measure of failure or success. It is a relative term. What one person perceives as extraordinary success may be an ordinary accomplishment for another. What may seem a failure today often turns out to be insignificant in the long run. 
    Thankfully, I grew up in an environ
ment where there were no high expectations I would excel academically. I never came first in any school exam. I hardly attended classes at college. That may not be the best thing to do but in retrospect I believe that there are many lessons to learn outside the classroom. Learning about how to build relationships and business partnerships; about human behavior and social dynamics is just as important as classroom lessons to succeed in any field. 
    It is a fact that in our society we ridicule failure. Rather than encourage people to take the road less travelled, we discourage them. There is encouragement to conform to a set pattern rather 
than stand out in a crowd. This is why failing an exam or a new venture is feared. 
    I don’t think setbacks, disappointments, rejections and unsuccessful attempts can be called failures. They are steps to success. How one deals with a setback determines the success of the next step. A sud
den setback can be seen as a brick wall. It can also be seen as a stepping stone. It’s the way one perceives it that determines whether an unsuccessful attempt turns into a failure. Absolute failure is about not trying to do new things; it’s about lack of conviction; it’s about giving up.

Monday, February 23, 2009


How much I liked the following quote of A.R. Rahman, the Oscar winner. This is what that makes a person great.

"All my life I've had a choice between hate and love, and I chose love, and now I'm here."-A R Rahman.

(picked the above quote from google status message of Runali. Thanks Runali, for bring it to notice.)

Saturday, February 14, 2009


Swami Sunisthanandaji was talking extensively about 'Self-restraint', an attribute that qualifies human beings. I was listening to him about a month back. He warned that we are increasingly allowing our animalistic instinct to take over our human nature. Pleasure motive, instant gratification and lack of self-respect are on the rise. 

Today I am shocked to see the following newspaper (TOI) article. The picture beside tells a shocking story. The 13 year old baby faced boy is holding a baby he fathered. 

Isn't it time to become more serious? I am not suggesting moral policing but reforming our education system to have the one that educates and empowers - forms character, enhances strength of body and mind, improves intellect, expands heart so that a person can stand on his/her own feet.

But then there are silver lines, too. Please, go through what 'Paras', 'Ekta', 'Sahayog' - NGOs doing in Surat, the other article in today's TOI. Can we make participation in social activity, awareness program a must in our education system? We need dedicated an trained teachers for that and it can come from such NGOs. Finally, Ravishankarji on Valentine Day.

13-yr-old fathers child, sparks outrage in UK

Critics Say Shocking Case Highlights Social Breakdown Of Britain

London: A baby-faced 13-yearold schoolboy has fathered a child with his 15-year-old girlfriend, it emerged on Friday, triggering debate about the country’s high level of teenage pregnancies. 
    Alfie Patten, whose voice has not yet broken, admitted he had not thought about how he and girlfriend Chantelle Steadman would support baby daughter Maisie Roxanne, who was born on Monday, but vowed to be a good father. 
    “I didn’t think about how we would afford it. I don’t really get pocket money. My dad sometimes gives me £10,” the fourfoot tall teenager from Eastbourne, told the Sun tabloid. “When my mum found out, I thought I was going to get in trouble... I didn’t know what it would be like to be a dad. I will be good, though, and care for it.” 
    The case has also drawn comment from Prime Minister Gordon Brown, while a former leader of the Conservative Party said it was an example of social breakdown in “broken Britain”. 

In diamond city, marriage brings sparkle to sex workers’ lives

A Volunteer Group In Surat Is Helping Women Shut The Door On Prostitution

Yagnesh Mehta | TNN 

Surat: A wedding is special for every woman but for Sulaxmi, it was more special than most. Ten years after she entered the sex trade in Surat, the 28-year-old was shutting the door on a profession she had been forced into and starting a new life. “It is every woman's dream but an impossible one for a sex worker. Many a man loves us but no one wants to get married,” says Sulaxmi. But the impossible became possible after a voluntary group’s efforts resulted in her marrying a young diamond worker. 
    Now after more than two years of marriage, Hitesh Patel, who hails from the Saurashtra region of Gujarat, says he couldn’t be happier. “I 
was in a relationship with Sulaxmi but the thought of marriage didn't cross my mind,” he admits. The credit for this important step, he says, goes to the encouragement and support provided by Paras, a volunteer group set up by the Preventive Social Medicine (PSM) department of Surat’s New Civil Hospital, which helps rehabilitate sex workers. 
    Sulaxmi was brought by a pimp from Hyderabad to Gujarat. He 
duped her parents into thinking he would get her a job. He did. As a sex worker. Forced into the sex trade at 14, Sulaxmi was resigned to her fate. Till she became one of Paras's first success stories when Hitesh came along. The most special day of her life — her wedding — was organised by Paras volunteers. “We arranged the vows and held a small wedding reception in our office. The two looked very happy,” says PSM assistant professor Jayesh Kosambiya. 
    Today, Sulaxmi and Hitesh have a son. “I am a full-time home-maker and I love this new role. It is a life of respect,” says Sulaxmi, who has taken it upon herself to counsel roughly 1,000 sex-workers, bringing them together as part of two community-based organisations, Ekta 
and Sahyog.

‘Love without wisdom brings trouble’


Kolkata: “Make God be your Valentine. We will never be ditched, deceived or deprived,” said Sri Sri Ravi Shankar at a Satsang in Kolkata on Saturday when the city was in the grip of the Valentine’s Day fever. The Art of Living founder said the world is so distraught because of the absence of love. 
    “Even if there is love, the problem exists. Because, there is wrong expression of it. Love without wisdom (gyan) can also bring trouble. If love comes with wisdom, there will be joy, satisfaction and benediction,” he said addressing a crowd at the Rabindra Sarovar stadium. 
    On the attacks on people celebrating Valentine’s Day, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said: “The extreme reaction comes out of fear. Our culture, heritage is not so fragile that one celebration would destroy it. There should be due respect to decency and decorum. But if you apply force against the violators, they will only increase. Force is no solution. Let it happen, if something is bad, people will reject it automatically.” 
    The Art of Living Guru prescribed five steps to get 
out of sufferings. First, you have to understand the time you are in. Secondly, do some Yoga and Sadhana. Yoga will stop bad things from happening in your life. Thirdly, think that you have overcome many a problem in your life and will eventually also overcome the problem causing you suffering. Next, you must understand that there are people whose suffering is much worse than yours. Put yourself in the ‘seva’ of that person. Finally, have complete faith in nature’s law — no suffering is perpetual. Suffering will come and go. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Two Sundays

I’ll talk about two great Sundays I had in recent times, activities just outside the campus. Before that an update on the activities inside the campus.

Yesterday afternoon some NSS volunteers gathered in my office where we discussed about (i) improvement of our NSS team website - publication of monthly report, upgrading happenings section, uploading teaching modules developed etc. and (ii) purchases required for the current educational program for the underprivileged kids. Four of us (myself, NKR, Sujo.. and Abhiji..) then went to market – bought toffees, pencils, eraser and three beautiful five-in-one books, one each for the groups who have placed the requirement. We all liked the books (published by Rainbow) having five different features like Hindi alphabets, English alphabets, Numbers etc. printed on a good quality paper, multi-coloured. We believe the kids will like it and it will enhance their education experience.

On 18th Jan., 2009 attended a one day meet, organized by Sarada Kalyan Bhandar, a charity run entirely by women. They are doing great work as can be found from their website The occasion was celebration of Swami Vivekananda’s birthday, the 12th of Januray which is declared ‘National Youth Day’ by Government of India. A youth convention was arranged where approximately 400 young men and women gathered. I was one of the panelists in a panel discussion but I preferred to listen more from others specially the younger people and reverend Swami Sunisthanandaji of Midnapore Ramakrishna Mission. Seldom one finds a person like Swami Sunisthanandaji with such clarity of thoughts, such a blend of Head and Heart. It appeared he has overcome all confusions of life and reached The Truth. Sitting on the stage, in front of a large audience, I couldn’t help being in my student self – taking running notes. May be on another post I’ll share them.

On 1st Feb., 2009, another Sunday, attended one more one day meet, organized by Kharagpur Vivekananda Yuva Mahamandal(KVYM) at a Madrasa named Azizia School at Kharagpur. This meet was meant for school students from Class V to Class IX. Approximately, 80 students attended it. After flag hoisting, vedic chant – “Sanga Chhaddhang …” and reading out of famous ‘Swadesh Mantra’ of Swami Vivekananda, everybody assembled in the auditorium. A discourse on how to improve ‘Mental Concentration’, the practical steps for practicing it, was delivered which is important for everyone one of us, specially the school-goers. Then there was physical exercise, followed by discussions on ‘Character Building’ – why and how. In the second half, there was Q&A session where the students asked many beautiful questions. A short description of Swamiji’s life was presented. The valedictory session was graced by – yes, Swami Sunisthanandaji and everybody (students and their guardians) were charmed by his address which lasted over an hour. The camp ended by a flag down ceremony. KVYM is the Kharagpur unit of a pan-India organization named Akhil Bharat Vivekananda Yuva Mahamandal who works among the youths through more than 500 centres in spreading ‘Man Making and Character Building’ideals of Swami Vivekananda. Every year around this time, they organize a one-day meet like this.