Diversity of colours

The festival of “Holi” in India signifies the onset of spring. While there is a story behind the festival, it is celebrated in most parts of India through sprinkling of colours on one another after the burning of Holika and performance of puja.

While the world talks today of DEI ( Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) and most organisations make a fuss about it, India celebrated the festival of Holi over many centuries and celebrated diversity in true spirit every year.

In my view “Holi” signifies equality and equity of all people. It does not differentiate based on religion, caste, creed or socio-economic status. The spirit of this festival is lived in India over generations.

Whether in communities, villages, towns or cities or within the precincts of organisations, everyone is deemed equal and celebrates this festival without any discrimination based on any factor.

I love this festival of colours as it truly represents the spirit of India’s diversity. I have played Holi across the length and breadth of our country. It not only celebrates the onset of spring but also promotes brotherhood and humanism at large.

While some say that the spirit behind this festival of diversity, equity and inclusion may have faded a bit, it is for us as individuals and as a collective to rekindle this spirit and promote the camaraderie in the societies where we live in today.

If we look back at our history as a nation, we have lived harmoniously irrespective of multiple religions, castes and ethnicities, peacefully co-existing over centuries. We have been threatened by invaders time and again and even the British tried to divide and rule but they did not succeed.

Today on the occasion of our 75th year of independence, it is upto us to resolve to preserve and promote this inherent diversity in our society. If there are forces within our society or outside which negate this spirit, we need to challenge them and be proud of our culture and heritage.

I have worked and lived in north, south, west, east and centre of India. I can proudly say that I am an Indian first and then belong to a state or a city. I have lived and thrived in every place I lived and have been respected and regarded by all communities.

Today, we are at a juncture where the world is looking at India and China as the super powers of the future. There could be strategies to derail our growth and development as a nation. But we need to preserve our rich cultural past and create a future of our choice built on this great foundation.

We have 28 states and 8 union territories in India. Each state almost speaks a different language and each of the languages also have multiple dialects. At the national level we use Hindi or English for official communication with the Centre and between states. However, we live and breathe as one nation. This is the spirit of India we can be proud of. Our Constitution guarantees us to live and thrive in any part of India and enjoy our heritage.

Let us continue to celebrate unity in diversity and share the spirit of “Holi” in our everyday lives.

I salute this spirit on the occasion of “Holi” today.

S Ramesh Shankar

7th March 2023

Let us light a lamp today

I am neither a religious person nor an atheist. Of course I am a proud Hindu and I believe Hinduism is one of the most liberal religions in the world since it allows me to live life my way without any restrictions. I do respect all other religions and I am proud that India is a multicultural and multi-religious society, where we respect all religions and celebrate each other’s festivals with life and vigour.

I realised albeit a bit late in my life that most of our rituals in all religions are meant to make us more human. We tend to follow religious rituals blindly either because they have been followed over ages or because we believe that by following them something good is likely to happen to us.

Today is Deepawali. In the northern parts of India, it is believed that Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya after his vanavas ( exile into the forests) and was reincarnated the King on his return. So the citizens celebrate Diwali by lighting lamps and bursting crackers to welcome back their beloved king.

In the southern parts of India, it is considered that Lord Krishna killed the demon Narakaasura and hence the victory of good over evil is celebrated with the bursting of crackers at the advent of dawn. It could be other stories in the west and east of India.

The rituals guide us to clean our homes and light lamps to celebrate the victory of good over evil. This is symbolic. This could mean it could be a day when we can clean our body and souls too. It is a way of the religion telling us to light a lamp in the life of others who are not as privileged as we are.

Most of us today are in the rat race. We are not only competing with others to get ahead in the race of life but sometimes are competing against ourselves too so that we cannot be beaten by anyone else. There could nothing wrong to be competitive in life. However, it is unhealthy competition which leads us to be greedy and ungrateful to what we have and make us want more than what we need in life.

In my definition, being good to others and serving them unconditionally is the best form of religion. If we are able to dedicate ourselves today to help someone,who is drowned with sadness and darkness, it may be the best way to celebrate this Festival of Lights.

Many of us are privileged and we have a place to stay, family and friends to support us and are bestowed with good health and wealth. While we need to be grateful to many who made us what we are today, the best way to repay their debt may be to help people who needs that kind of support today.

In our worldly affairs, we may have forgotten to express our gratitude to all the people who moulded us into a better human being today. Today this festival of Diwali gives us an opportunity to light a lamp in the lives of those who need the most.

We need not think of changing the world. I would appeal to each one of us to make an impact on any individual, who needs it the most. That may be the best way to celebrate this festival. Let us spread happiness around us. Let us bring a smile into the face of those who need it the most. Let us meet and be grateful to the people who have made us what we are today.

Let us celebrate Diwali by lighting a lamp into the life of someone today.

S Ramesh Shankar

24th October 2022

Trophies & Medals

We all love to be recognised at every stage of our lives. As a kid, our mothers more than anyone else take care of this need. They pat our back on every possible occasion and give us enough chocolates and other incentives to keep us fully charged. As we grow up this need possibly increases but may not get fulfilled.

At educational institutions, many teachers do not realise the value of recognition. They may assume that too much of recognition may go into our heads and make us too top heavy. This may be true and we need to be grounded at all times. But, in my view, recognition is never enough.

Some people think that recognition has to be in material form or financial terms. While financial incentives do play a pivotal role especially in early stages of a person’s career, it is the non financial recognition which really makes the positive and lasting impact on people.

I remember my wife losing her gold medal of college in a burglary at home. The value of the gold medal she got more than four decades back was not much in financial terms but the intrinsic value of the recognition she received was invaluable. I went to her college principal and requested them to give it to her again. They organised a special function and she could relive that glory. It was one of the best surprises for her in her life time.

Recognition and rewards are beyond trophies and medals we may receive in school, college, Universities or even in organisations. The value of the recognition is more valued than the material or financial value of the same.

I am sure most of us would not remember the cheques we may have received in our career. But the hand written certificate from your college principal or even from your lovable boss is a treasure forever. Many of us would like to frame such letters and preserve it for posterity.

I have to confess that I realised the true value of such non financial recognition quite late in my career. I used to be generous in recognising my team members both through rewards and verbal accolades quite regularly. However, one day I wrote a hand written ( my hand writing is not something I can ever be proud of) appreciation letter to my colleague and she literally framed it and told me when I was leaving the organisation that it was the best reward of her life.

We as parents, teachers, managers and leaders have to realise that human being need constant recognition. Recognition is not necessarily in monetary terms. On the contrary, true recognition is non monetary and valued more. The earlier we realise this in our life, the better it is for all of us.

I am not in any way negating the value of financial rewards or incentives. However, what I am trying to emphasise is that non monetary awards touch your heart. Like a hand written note is valued more than a letter even if printed in golden letters. We need to realise this and not miss a single occasion when we get an opportunity to appreciate anyone around us for the smallest good deeds we see.

Let us start by appreciating everyone around us from today.

S Ramesh Shankar

16th Nov 2020

Darkness to light …



Every festival teaches us some life lessons. I was wondering what the Festival of Lights can teach us. First we need to understand that it is celebrated across India by the name “Deepavali” but it has different folk lores. In the south of India and parts of west and east of India it is celebrated for the killing of demons called Narkasur & Mahisasur by the Gods. On the other hand in most of north India, it is celebrated as the return of Lord Rama from the forest after serving a 14 year deportation term.

Either way it is celebrated with the bursting of crackers , creative expression of design forms on the entrance of homes called rangoli and lighting of lamps to decorate homes. In the south of India it is celebrated at dawn and in the north it is celebrated at dusk. Either way the decorative lamps and the bursting of fire crackers transforms the environment from darkness to light.

Diwali or Deepavali as it is called is the Festival of Lights, colourful rangolis and bursting of crackers. It signifies the victory of good over evil and the return of a popular king to his people. While most of the traditions of the past continue with festive fervour, the lessons of this wonderful festival is forgotten in some way.

In my view one of the best learnings one can carry from the Festival of Lights is cleaning your home and your mind. Every household spends a lot of time in cleaning their home, painting them and decorating them much before the festival arrives. It may also be a good time to clean our minds of the unwanted memories stored in them. While we may be superficially cleaning our homes today, it is a great opportunity to make our environs more hygienic and our minds clearer and more peaceful.

Another important lesson one can learn from this festival is to enlighten ourselves and bring light into the life of others. This is an opportunity to transform ourselves. We can sit back and reflect on our own lives. We can bring fresh thinking into our minds and let our inner selves to get more illuminated. This festival also gives us an opportunity to bring light into the lives of other human beings by being of some help to them. In a way, we can illuminate the life of others through our deeds.

The third and the most important significance of this festival is to drive away evil thoughts from our mind. The bursting of crackers today may be polluting the environment due to the chemicals used in them. But, the spirit of this practise was more to drive away the demons and welcome the good in us. While we have fervently continued to burst crackers, we have forgotten the purpose of it and the spirit of this ritual.

We tend to remember the physical part of the rituals and practise them. We conveniently forget the spirit and purpose of these rituals. It may be time to reawaken ourselves. It may be the right time to kindle our spirits. We need to enlighten ourselves by living the rituals in letter and spirit.

It is time to clean our environment as much as our minds. It is time to think afresh and forget all the bad memories of the past. It is an opportunity to forgive the people who have hurt us and befriend them again. The joy of forgiveness is to be experienced to be believed. This way we can enlighten ourselves as much as bring light into the life of others around us.

Time to enlighten ourselves is today.

S Ramesh Shankar

7th November 2018

Best kept secrets of HR

We recently had a annual HR strategy meeting in our organisation.  This year there was a suggestion given by a young colleague of mine.  It was to request all employees to name one family member of theirs, who have made a lasting impact on their life and career.  They were advised to give this information well in advance to the organisers.  The organisers on their part printed a nicely worded letter of appreciation signed by the CHRO.

I was touched by the idea and the way it was implemented.  Almost all employees had tears in their eyes, when they received this appreciation letter along with the token gift from their respective managers during the course of the conference.

This was not the end of it.  After the conference, we got emails, messages and letters from their family members for this thoughtful gesture.  I was overwhelmed by their response.   What started as an innovative idea by a young colleague ended in stirring emotions amongst hundreds of human beings across the organization and their families.

The lesson we learnt from this idea was that gratitude and recognition are much more valuable than monetary rewards.  In our daily routine, we tend to forget these simple deeds,  which can make them feel cared for and appreciated.  We always have to remember that what we are today is the outcome of the toil of many unsung heroines and heroes in our lives.

S Ramesh Shankar

End of a century

In cricket, if you hit 100 runs, it is considered a century and a milestone for a batsman.  In life, if you live for hundred years it is indeed a landmark of your life.  Not many people live up to that age and not many survive to live that way.  What significance is it for me if I say that this is my hundredth blog.  It could signify that I do not have enough to do at work and in life that I have started writing blogs.  It could also mean that I have enough to share based on my learnings in life.

I was always wondering what to write on the hundredth blog.  Its a question for which I have no answer.  I can only state that the journey of writing blogs began a year back.  It has been an eventful journey.  Every time I get to reflect and think, the words flow as water from a tap.  It could be a summer evening watching the sunset or a long haul flight.  The words flow as if there is no gravity.  It is joyful and reflective.

I also post my blogs on my company social media platform.  I get a lot of feedback wherever I travel around the world.  People have encouraged me to write more and given me ideas on what to write.  They have commented on my blogs and made me think differently.  Words are a great expression of feelings.  What we cannot express in person can sometimes be better expressed in words.

As I look back I realise that my life has been a great learning workshop.  It has had its ups and downs.  But every experience has taught me something.  Even writing blogs has been one such experience.  So, I have dedicated this blog to sharing my learning.  As I pen down my thoughts, I learn from it.  It also helps me pour out my feelings on issues, beliefs and values.

In the history of a nation, a century of existence could mean a lot.  It could mean heritage.  It could mean its richness of civilisation.  It could mean the culture and values of the organisation getting institutionalised.  Similarly in the life of an individual an event could mean something.  For me writing my hundredth blog is one such event.  It has brought out something in me.  It has enabled me to express myself in more ways than one.

I am grateful to all the people around me who have made this happen.  My family members, my team members, my readers and my mentors.  All of them have encouraged me to write and share.  I may not be perfect in my writing but I promise that I try to be authentic.  I try to narrate my experiences of life in my own way.  I try to put myself in every readers’ shoes and narrate events as they would experience it.

Just as the historical building above is more than a century old, this blog signifies my completing the hundredth piece.

I hope this energy within me blossoms.  I hope to live up to the expectations of my readers.  I hope to reflect realities of life.  I hope to share what cannot be shared easily.  I hope to bring in positive change in society.  I believe that even if one person changes there could be an impact of my writing and it is worth it.  I do believe that change begins with me and hence this first step.

Do you believe it ?

S Ramesh Shankar
November 2016

Joy of writing

Almost four decades ago I used to write a bit of poetry and a few articles for our college magazine. Then as I grew up and got into work, this habit of writing almost disappeared.  It was just left to a few articles in some company newsletters or professional magazines.  My commitment to work took precedence and this art of writing faded into memory.

About a year back, I took my annual vacation with my wife and went for an Ayurvedic rejuvenation camp for three weeks. This hospital was in the backdrop of the western ghats amidst a rural landscape.  As I spent the day in my treatment, the evenings were spent in long walks along the country roads by the mountains, lakes and green fields. This sojourn with nature rekindled the writing spirit in me and I started writing blogs.  

Since then I have been writing blogs whenever my thoughts flow through my mind and my soul is tickled to express myself in words.  Today I publish a blog every week and God willing intend to publish a booklet of every hundred blogs I write.  This will enable me to share my reflections, feelings, thoughts and emotions with others and learn from their reactions too.

Today I experience the joy of writing.  As I sit down on my Ipad to express myself in words, the thoughts and feelings flow like the tributaries of a river.  It starts with a thought and then flows like a river.  Normally, I jot down every feeling I get and also the thoughts, which pass through my mind at different times of the day and night.  Then I start pondering over that thought or feeling and words flow through my fingers like the water wading though the rocks on the river bed finding its way downstream.

Words expressed in writing gives me joy.  Some people are good in sharing their feelings and thoughts by speaking about them.  I do share it the same way but the ease at which I can express in writing is more than what I can speak.  Normally, I prepare for my speeches and try to be spontaneous rather than reading from a script.  But, when I sit down to write, the emotions in my heart pour as words on the tablet as I try to express myself.

It is easy to share joy with others.  Sometimes it may be necessary to share sorrow too with your near and dear ones so that you feel lighter.  But I find it easiest to write down what I feel and then share it with everyone who is interested in reading my expressions.  This way I feel lighter, fearless and free flowing in my life.  Each of us have our own way of expressing ourselves and sharing our feelings and emotions.

As in the photo above, if you have the vastness of the sea in front of you and the mystic of the setting sun, then words flow through your pen like the waves on the sea shore.

Some of us like to be left alone and like to meditate.  While others like to read a book or listen to music.  My way of relaxing is to write and express myself in words.  It is this habit, which has helped me  de-stress myself and sharing my emotions with others.  Each of us have to find our own way of enjoying life.  There is nothing right or wrong about any hobby or habit. 

Let us discover our joy in life and enjoy it to the fullest.

S Ramesh Shankar

The ‘Aha” moment

All of us go through various experiences in life.  Each moment is a unique one in life.  However, there are some moments, which we may call as ‘Aha’ moments,  when you suddenly feel that you have arrived in life or something special has happened to you.  These moments may be small events in life but have a lasting impact on you throughout your life.

Let me try to illustrate through some real life experiences.  I was vacationing near the western ghats of south India during summer of this year and suddenly I took out my IPad and started writing a blog.  It was a moment of revelation.  A moment to cherish – as words started flowing as if water was flowing through the river bed down the valley.  It was natural and unplanned.  But the joy within me was unique.  I shared this experience with my spouse and since then started writing a blog every week without fail.  This was indeed a “Aha” moment in my life.

Another interesting incident, which happened in my life was when I joined my current employer.  I had till then lived in Kolkota and worked in Delhi and Chennai.  After moving to Bangalore in 2005, I never dreamt of moving out of that city to work.  But, suddenly in 2011, I got an offer from my present employer and moved to Mumbai.  This was an “aha” moment since I always felt like living and experiencing this dream city in my life.

My wife had passed out of college and was working as a counsellor before we got married.  After we had our second child, I encouraged her to write the National Eligibility test (NET) to become a teacher in college.  She reluctantly agreed and gave the exam.  When she cleared it at the first attempt, it was a ‘Aha” moment for her.  She had lost touch with academics but even without much preparations, she cleared in the first attempt and hence was overjoyed. 

My daughter always had a desire to study mass communication.  When she completed her graduation in journalism from Delhi University, she started to apply for many colleges to pursue her masters in mass communication. Suddenly, one day she got a call from the most prestigious institute for mass communication in India and this indeed was a “aha” moment for her.  Her joy was boundless.

My son was always a automobile enthusiast from childhood.  He dreamt about cars and bikes even during childhood.  As he grew up, this hobby became a passion.  Then he went for his higher studies in marketing.  On return, he was applying for jobs and out of the blue, he got an opportunity to work for one of the most coveted brands in the world car industry.  This was a “aha” moment in his life since he got to live his passion every day.

All of us have our “aha” moments in life.  It is up to us to enjoy the moment and share the joy with others.

S Ramesh shankar