Silent Service…

I was passing by my neighbour’s home when someone called me by name. I looked back and realised that it was not for me. So, I moved on. Later, my neighbour called me and apologised for the same. She said that she was teaching a student by name Ramesh online and coincidentally I Passed through at that time .

I told her that there was nothing to be apologetic as it was a strange coincidence. I enquired from her as to what she was teaching and she told me that she teaches special children in a school for the last 15 years. Her specialisation was teaching autistic children. I was touched.

Many a time in life we believe we are doing a great deal of service to society. It is only when you hear such stories, you are grounded . It makes you realise that how people have dedicated their lives to fulfilling the needs of society, especially the needy.

It is difficult for anyone to teach children. Imagine teaching children online and that too special children. My salutations to the teacher and the taught. It is indeed incredible dedication to a cause.

What I want to share here is not about my neighbour teaching autistic children but her silent selfless service. I know my neighbour for quite some time now. She has never spoken about her service to children.

What I have learnt in life is that the really dedicated people do what they do without making any song and dance of it. It is like we say the right hand should not know what the left hand is doing when you are donating. Similarly, the genuine service minded people serve society selflessly and silently.

In today’s world, we come across people, who do claim to do social service just to make it to national newspapers, social media or the TV channels. They also do it to cover up for all their misdeeds and believe God may forgive them in this way. It is a rarity to see silent people who serve society even without their neighbours knowing about it.

I should admit that I realised how little I do when compared to such people. It is people like her who inspire me in life. They are the real heroines and heroes for me in life. It is like the front line health workers today who are fighting the pandemic without bothering for their own safety.

Selfless service not only makes you a better human being. It makes you a role model for society and the next generations. It helps your own family members and friends to imbibe the right values. It gives you good health and limitless happiness, which money can never buy for you.

As in the photo above, such selfless servers of society do not want their own publicity. They always want to work behind the scenes

Let the world learn from such committed people all the time.

S Ramesh Shankar

16th August 2020.

How much is good enough ?

The results of the class X and class XII were declared by the central and state boards recently in India. The overall pass percentage was more than 90 % in most states and most children have excelled in their exams irrespective of tense moments due to the onset of the pandemic during the last phase of their exams.

One of my close relatives obtained 90% in her class X exams and I came to know that she was not very happy as she was expecting more. I was not surprised. Apart from academic excellence, she is a a natural artist and a devoted dancer. I was not surprised at her disappointment because the world is making children compete in every sphere of life. Luckily for her, her family is very supportive.

However the reality of today is that we live in a very competitive world. Everyday we want to compete with everyone around us. This child in spite of being so talented felt disappointed because some of her classmates had scored more than 90%. Imagine someone scoring 90% and feeling bad. If not for a supportive family, imagine the plight of this child or similar children in society today.

In my view, this is a wake up call for us. Do we live to live or do we live to die ? The current scenario amongst children and adults tell me that we are living to die early. We do not want live life every day and enjoy every moment. There is nothing wrong to be competitive. But competing for the sake of competing may be disastrous. We need to realise that life is multi-faceted. Every child is a talent and may have potential to do things which other children may not be able to.

As parents and elders we need to enable the child to realise her or his full potential in what they are capable of doing. Today most parents want their children to be successful professionals. The ability of parents and teachers to harness the hidden talent of a child is less seen. The day teachers and parents realise that every child is a gift of God and is talented, human potential will be fully harnessed. We need to enable every child to compete with themselves and make them realise that this is the path to excellence and not otherwise.

The situation is no different in colleges or even in organisations. Every leader has to realise that every employee is a talent. We need to assess what they their capabilities are and harness their full potential. If we put a square peg in a round hole, we may not get the best out of anyone. We tend to put creative people in analytical jobs and vice versa and then beat them up to realise their potential. This will only lead to fatigue and loss of talent in organisations.

As a society, we need to focus back on our children. It is not good enough to state that children are the future of a country and society. We need to enable them to succeed. The day every child is able to realise their strength and choose their field of interest to study will be the beginning of a new world. Then when they are able to work in a field of their own passion on their own volition without any societal pressures, we may have turned the corner

Families and societies have to learn to be tolerant and flexible. They need to challenge their own mindset and believe that potential is unlimited in every human being. This will lead us to a new world order where happiness will be the ultimate goal for everyone. Joy in what we learn or do and gratitude to everyone around us for enabling us to do the same will be our motto.

As in the photo above, we need to enable every child to realise their full potential and experience what they enjoy learning and doing.

Let us start today and create a brighter tomorrow.

S Ramesh Shankar

15th July 2020

Locked in because of the lockout

We always have a ready excuse in life for everything. When people ask me, why were you not able to complete a task, I may say there was a lockout and you know how you feel lonely and left out in such a situation.

We may blame the rains for coming in late to office or the sun for not going for a evening walk. It is possibly human to invent reasons for not doing something. But, if we dig deep, we will find, we do not have an excuse for anything.

It can be as simple as promise made to my kid to take her for a circus or as official as a commitment to send a presentation to a customer on a particular date. While we always find excuses to justify our behaviour but deep down in our hearts we know we have none.

While this may look simple, it is possibly one of the most difficult things to achieve in life. What I find interesting is that the simplest things in life are the most challenging. It may easier to fix a machine under breakdown than to change a simple habit of ours every day.

I learnt it the hard way to be punctual in life after I missed an important event in my school days. Since then, I have been punctual in all my personal and official engagements. What I find interesting is that late comers to work are never late to miss a train or a plane during vacations. This means that if we are passionate about something, we can make the change.

This is equally true in life. The lockout is beyond our control. It is possibly one of the best ways to prevent the unknown virus to spread. However, to keep our mind locked in and blame the lockout for that is not justifiable. I know people in life who will always find a reason for things going wrong for them. They are never happy. On the other hand, you find people, who are always happy irrespective of the fact that they may not have all the luxuries of life with them.

So the simple lesson to be learnt is that we need not feel locked in even in a lockout. We can find hundred and one ways of keeping ourselves engaged and innovating and thriving in this environment. I put my thinking cap on and got so many ideas to write about, which I never got during the normal days of the year so far. So, it is upto us to change any situation to our personal advantage.

If we believe the lockout has not only physically kept us indoors but also mentally, we have none to blame than ourselves. Our mental potential is unlimited. Irrespective of your field of interest or work, you could discover new things everyday even within the confines of your home. There is so much to learn, so much to observe, so much to read and reflect and so much to change.

The sooner we realise this phenomenon, the better it is for us as evolving human beings. If not, we get stuck like the snail in its shell. We may be putting our head in the sand like the Ostrich and thinking that the world has come to an end. We need to realise that we have sunk our head and the world around us is still alive and kicking.

As in the photo above, we innovated on the cap and the mask to have fun even during the lockdown.

Time to get up and awaken ourselves is now. Are we ready ?

S Ramesh Shankar

20th April 2020

Phoren returned ?

It is interesting how the world turns upside down within a few days or even hours. It was a great honour and matter of pride for people in India to tell that they have just returned from a foreign trip. They were proud when their children studied abroad or they themselves went on a holiday to a foreign land. They could proudly share it with friends and family with photographs and all details.

However, in the last few days since the Covid virus hit the world, it is the contrary. Nobody wants you to be near them if you have returned from a foreign country. Apart from the compulsory quarantine for a fortnight mandated by the health authorities, people are wary of phoren returned friends and relatives. It is no longer a fad. On the contrary, people are wary of disclosing that they have returned recently from a foreign trip.

I am not against anyone going anywhere to do anything. If a student excels in academics and wants to study in the best university in the world – she or he has a right to do so and should do the same. Similarly, if a professional or a business person gets an opportunity to thrive in a different country there is nothing wrong about the same. However, what intrigues me is that the people residing in these prosperous worlds want to return to India when there is a crisis. Inspite of having better medical and health care facilities, they believe India will care for them more than any other country in the world would. They want to acquire citizenship in these countries for their material prosperity but they still want a place in India’s heart for their emotional security.

The government of India with the help of our national airlines and also the defence forces repeatedly takes up difficult missions to rescue Indians from across the world whenever there is a crisis and they should continue to do so. However, I have only one appeal to these prosperous and successful Indians. While India and Indians will always have a space in our hearts for all of you, kindly do not forget India when we need you. We would urge you to remember India not only when you are in trouble but also when you doing well wherever you are.

I saw a picture today sent by someone on the social media. It shows thousands of successful Indians returning to India during the Covid crisis because they feel it is safer to be at home during this period. On the other hand, millions of migrant workers are left stranded in the metros because there is nobody to take care of them. They could not afford to take flights back home like the prosperous Indians could.

Gratitude is absolute. It can and never should be relative. I cannot and should not think of being grateful commensurate to the benefit I derive from a person, organisation or a nation. I have to be absolutely grateful to everyone who has helped me in this journey of life irrespective of the magnitude of their contribution. It is then I am truly grateful.

Similarly prosperous Indians around the world have to be grateful to their roots in India and the people who have contributed to their success. They should express their gratitude in monetary and non monetary terms whenever and wherever it is possible and not wait for someone to ask. It is like people living in metros should be grateful to the migrant workers from across the country for their daily services. We have to take care of them when they are in crisis and not only use them when we need them. Gratitude is a two way street. One never knows when we will be trouble and and we may need help.

It is like in the picture above. The foreign returnee is not sure whether she wants to show her face or not.

Let us commit to express our gratitude in deeds rather than words and expressions from today.

S Ramesh Shankar

29th March 2020

Featured

Joy of giving…

I have always be in awe of our festivals in India. Diwali is no exception. Apart from lights and crackers, one recalls Diwali with fond memories because the entire family got together once in a year and celebrated together. We got up early at dawn and had an oil bath before sunrise and enjoyed all the sweets and savouries all day.

Today I got a new insight on Diwali. It is celebrated in India with two different beliefs in the northern and southern part of the country. In the north, people believe that Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya after his 14 years in the forests and hence is welcomed back with lights and crackers. In the South, it is believed that Lord Krishna killed a ghost by name Narakaasura on this day in Dwaraka Yuga.

The new insight I got today is from a forward about the story of Narakaasura and the lessons for all of us. It is believed that Narakaasura is the “I” or ego residing in all of us as humans. When Lord Krishna killed Narakaasura, he eliminated our ego and released more than 16000 evils in us. So the next day on amavasya we pray to Godess Lakshmi to lead us to the right path.

Every ritual in Hindu religion and so in other religions has a deep insight for all of us. We generally get swayed by the rituals and start believing that they are of no use and most of us including me give up rituals because they serve no human purpose. I have been no exception. Now that I have all the time in the world, I am able to reflect and get new insights into these rituals.

Another interesting belief that we should clean our home and get rid of all the unwanted things. This is also symbolic that God wants us to give up all that is not necessary and take up the good things in life.

It is also enshrined in our religions that the best way to serve God is to serve the human kind. If we give more, we get more. If we are content with what we have, God always gives us more than what we need. This is the challenge for all of us. How much is enough – is a question difficult to ask and answer for oneself ?

I have admired people who give away without expecting anything in return. Recently another friend forwarded a message with a great insight. It was a couplet from Rahim. When Tulsidas looked at Rahim donating, he found his eyes looked at the ground and so asked him ” O great person, where have you learnt this amazing way of giving ? “. As your hands rise ( to give), your eyes look down. “. Rahim replies – “. The Giver is someone else ( God Almighty), giving day and night. The world has a misconception that I am the giver. So, I lower my eyes in embarrassment. ”

The best people I have met in life are those who give unconditionally. They are anonymous most of the times and recipient does not know that they are the donors. They give because they have a surplus and they are grateful to the Almighty for it and want to thank him for the generosity bestowed on them.

It is like the exotic orchid in the photo above, given my colleagues at work, which are blooming because of their unconditional love.

This blog a salute from my side to all the wonderful people who have made me what I am today. They have given me support, advice, money and love unconditionally. I can never ever return their favour in any form. I promise to give back without expecting anything in return as I bow in gratitude to them.

S Ramesh Shankar

27th October 2019

Violence has no place in a civilised society

Today we heard of the barbaric attack in the churches in Sri Lanka killing hundreds of innocent people and injuring many more. Today is Easter Sunday and how can any human living in a civilised world kill innocent people on a day when Christians around the world are celebrating their Easter Sunday.

I am a Hindu by birth but strongly believe that all religions of the world lead us to the same God. I am not well read in all religions of the world but India being home to all religions has taught us that we need to live harmoniously and support each other to succeed. No religion in the world supports violence in any form. No religion in the world encourages its followers to resort to violence and thereby kill innocent people.

I wonder even if the families of these terrorists will support such a cowardly act. How can one human being kill another human being who has done no harm to you and for no fault of theirs. This is an act of cowardice. It is inhuman and a crime against human kind.

Today we will have no words to console the family members and friends of those who were killed in this dastardly act. No financial compensation can bring back mothers, fathers, sisters or brothers of those who were killed. I cannot even imagine how a normal human being can indulge in such condemnable actions.

I lost my parents at a very young age and understand the impact on family members when they lose their near and dear ones. I am sure every terrorist has a family and realises the impact of his or her act on the family members of those, who have died. It is an act which no words in the world can condemn. The only way to condemn this act is for all countries of the world to unite, fight and eliminate terrorism as one nation. We need to kill the roots of terrorism from across the world.

No civilised society will support violence of any kind. No inequality in society can justify any act of terrorism or violence. All countries have to ensure that all inequities in societies are addressed in all possible ways. However no human being or groups have any right to address any cause by killing innocent people in any part of the world.

We should not wait for the United Nations to address this issue. We as citizens of the world have to collectively resolve that we will not support violence against human beings by anyone anywhere in the world. It is time for countries to resolve that they will not support such acts of barbarism. It is for all religions of the world to unite and condemn such action.

As in the photo above, Gautam Buddha has taught the world that we can win over anything in the world through peace. It is for us to learn to live peacefully always.

Time to stand up and speak in one voice of the world is today.

S Ramesh Shankar

21st April 2019

Position & Possession

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Is our life ruled by position or possession only ?  Lets explore. We can examine this hypothesis from three different lenses and the answer seems to be similar.  Let us first examine it from the lens of the family.  We may be born in a middle class family in a small village.  Our status in the society where we are born is determined by the position held by our family members in the society around us.  In the olden days, your caste determined your status in society.  After all caste is also a social position class.

Now if we look within the family social structure, the story is not very different.  The power structure is determined by the position you hold in the family tree.  An elder in the family whether parents or grandparents can never be wrong as compared to their children in any situation.  At least this is the way we are brought up.  I respect elders in the family but there is a possibility that in some situations our children may be right and we may be wrong.  But, we generally will be in a denial mode unless we are magnanimous in our attitude.

We can then move to the lens of organisation.  The hierarchy determines the power structure in organisations.  The higher you are in the hierarchy the less you can be wrong in any situation.  Thus position determines power and thereby influences all decisions in the organisation.  The situation is no different if you examine this from the lens of society.  The public figures who hold positions of power determine the direction the society has to move and those who are powerless are less influential in society.

Now, lets examine as to why we are possessive by nature.  We all are born into this world with no possessions and when we leave this world we can carry no possessions.  But in between these two events in our life, we spend most of our time accullumating possessions.  As a kid, we want all the games and gadgets in the family or in the circle of friends we have.  Then as an individual as we grow up, we want to maximise our material wealth at any cost most of the times.  We do not have time to sit and listen to our family or friends in distress.

If we move to the organisational context, the situation is similar.  Most organisations work at maximising shareholders’ wealth at any cost.  They want to increase profits at the cost of society if needed.  Very few organisations look at what they can give back to society unless the governments statutorily compel them to do so.  This again proves that as individuals and organisations we are possessive by nature and we want to maximise at the cost of society in most situations.

I sometimes wonder ” why we are crazy after positions or possessions in life ?”. Is it a physical or psychological need ?  I am not sure.  But, I do realize that the root cause of conflicts in family , organisations and society is the craving for positions or possessions in their life time.  This is amply clear if we introspect or objectively look at organisations and societies around us.  As in the photo above, the position we hold and the assets we possess may give us a sense of power.  It is up to us to ensure that we remain grounded always with our feet firmly on the ground.

It is time to reflect. There is nothing wrong to yearn for a position or assimilate possessions in life.  But, as long as we are able to restrict them to fulfil our needs rather than greed, it is fine.  We also need to learn to give back to society.  The day we have this realisation, we wake up and feel actualised in life.  It is never too late to make this distinction.

Let us try to start today

S Ramesh Shankar