Saturday, December 31, 2016


When one popular online social platform was flooding timelines with year end review in the beginning of this month, someone made a prophetic observation that it was too early! May be the deep or not-so-deep learning there was not given an opportunity to get trained on Sharukh dialogue of Om Shanti Om, "picture abhi baki hai mere dost." May be it was part of its training set but something considered smarter there directed it towards a different pool by spotting certain keyword! Therefore, a picture which is a contender for the 'picture of the year', not for its look but for its significance, gets a miss in that platform.

The picture was with one of my illustrious colleague in an unusual place and in an unusual hour, from our uncanny ability not to miss the fun side even in a trying condition.

Shreya and Preya

Though real life drama can surprise reel life counterpart at times, one needs to watch the end scenes of Kahani 2 to make the meaning of the dialogue, "teri promotion ki ***" in the context it is uttered or that of "umeed mei to jivan hai." From today's show to last week's! That too was a Part 2 sequel. The dialogue was something like this, "hum jo karna pasand karte hain aur jo karte hain, usi ki beech mein hamara kamjori, nehi to hamara shakti chhupa raheti hain."

It is worth taking note of verse 1.2.2 of Kathopnishad in this context.

श्रेयश्च प्रेयश्च मनुष्यमेतस्तौ संपरीत्य विविनक्ति धीरः । 
श्रेयो हि धीरोऽभिप्रेयसो वृणीते प्रेयो मन्दो योगक्शेमाद्वृणीते ॥

Both the good and the pleasant approach the mortal; the intelligent man examines and distinguishes them; for, the intelligent man prefers the good to the pleasant; the ignorant man chooses the pleasant for the sake of his body. Shankar's commentary on this can be found here.

And we were taught, he is the intelligent who can make what is good, likable.

Balancing Equity and Excellence 

But there are other kind of dilemma than shreya and preya. Listened to an interesting speech yesterday. For an administrator, balancing equity and excellence is not easy. While equity asks for equal distribution of resources, excellence requires allocation of more resource for the one who deserves more. In this, equity comes in the form of equal opportunity given to all to reach that deserving spot and those who do reach, get a spring board. But there is a catch here. Equity remains the overarching principle. Investment in excellence does not contradict that principle if the output of the excellence is ploughed back to promote better level of equity and, is not considered a mere entitlement. Thus, who gets the spring board, carry with them a responsibility.

This is more like a village farmer who does not have means to give good education to all four kids puts more effort on the most intelligent one, sends him to a city for higher education that follows a good career. The aim for him is to see that son raising the condition of the other three brothers in the village when established. If the city boy disconnects his cord or shrugs off his responsibility then the farmer should have considered equal spend on education for all four kids, by which other three could have lived incrementally better life. This could have put a high cost to the first one but one might not find that to be unjustified. Because he is not ready do his bit to improve condition of the other three, at least to a level higher than what that incremental better life for equal spend on four would have provided. This quantification can decide the dividend percentage for that equity.

Strength of Character

Coming back to Tum Bin 2 dialogue on the gap between what we think and and what we do, where lies our character strength or weakness, heard something interesting on this count too. What we are or what we are not, is known when a gun is put on our head or when a gun is given in our hand; that Abraham Lincoln said if you want to know a person's character, give him power.

Education plays an important role in the building up of character. Educators and the ambiance created by academic administrators are key to make the process work. Career and character - one prepares the taught to face the external and the other to face the internal upheavals. In Vivekananda's words, "We want that education by which character is built, intellect is developed, strength of mind is increased and one can stand on one's own feet." We are always better off if we do not cease to learn and have the courage to face what comes as an obstacle (both internal and obstacle) to become a better human being.

ABVYM Annual Camp

Attended Annual Camp of Akhil Bharat Vivekananda Yuva Mahamandal earlier this week for few hours. This 50th edition was held in B. Ed training college and Vidyamandir, adjacent to Belur Mutt. There were 2346 campers attending it from all over the country, mostly from different centres of Mahamndal. The 5 and 1/2 day long camp is to inculcate man making and character building idea among youth.

Being Patriot

In the camp, listened to one hour lecture of Swami Nikhilatmanadaji of Beneras Ramakrishna Mission on 'Message of Swami Vivekananda.' Quoting Vivekananda he said, "Feel, therefore, my would-be reformers, my would-be patriots! Do you feel? Do you feel that millions and millions of the descendants of gods and of sages have become next-door neighbours to brutes? Do you feel that millions are starving today, and millions have been starving for ages? Do you feel that ignorance has come over the land as a dark cloud? Does it make you restless? Does it make you sleepless? Has it gone into your blood, coursing through your veins, becoming consonant with your heartbeats? Has it made you almost mad? Are you seized with that one idea of the misery of ruin, and have you forgotten all about your name, your fame, your wives, your children, your property, even your own bodies? Have you done that? That is the first step to become a patriot, the very first step."

This quote was from Vivekanda's lecture, 'My Plan of Campaign", delivered at Madras (full lecture). Maharaj asked all to go ough this and other lectures under the series "Lectures from Colombo to Almora." It was a great experience to be in that camp. (Video playlist)


Taking correct decision, timing it right, following the process - all seem to be a kind of burden if seen in isolation. It may appear a tight rope walk to balance competing interests. Strength of character, working in a team who too believe in shreya over preya, adherence to fundamental principles of life and a sense of trusteeship hold key.

Tall trees giving shades, bringing rain and blossoming flowers: Making of an academic campus!

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