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

Life is what you make out of it….

Srs

I sometimes wonder as to why the street side vendor is happy and smiling always and on the other hand, wealthy businessmen spend sleepless nights. I am also surprised as to how some people are smiling and happy always while others crib all the time.

Life is what you make out it. In every situation in life, we have a choice. We can be happy or sad. We can give in or we can stand up. We can face a challenge head on and move on or cry for the rest of our lives. Life is full of challenges but it is upto us to decide how we are going to deal with it.

Nobody or no instance can make us happy or sad. It is upto us to choose what we want to do. Imagine, one has missed a promotion in your career. Of course all of us feel bad and we should feel so as we are all human. The choice before us is to feel bad for a day or two and then move on and bounce back in your career or crib for the rest of your life and backtrack in one’s career.

Every aspect of life always gives us a choice to make. A man on the street is content and never looks at the millionaires and cry. Some millionaires are looking at billionaires and crying every day. So choice is ours. Do we want to be content or do we want to be greedy for the rest of our lives. There is nothing wrong to be ambitious and desire to want things. But once we get all that we want for a healthy and happy life, are we happy or are we sad ? That is question we need to ask ourselves.

I can share an incident which happened to me just now. I completed the whole blog and there was crash in the iPad and everything got deleted. Now too I have a choice. Should I curse my bad luck and keep crying or should I say I get another opportunity to write again and may be newer thoughts come to my mind. I chose the latter and it made me happy again.

During these days of the lockdown, all of us are holed up in our homes. Some of us are cursing ourselves that we are not able to travel, play or entertain ourselves everyday. On the other hand, I see many of us are exploring our best creativity every day and express it in social media and other channels. My spouse and me decided that we will do house keeping all over our home and pursue our hobbies and believe me it was fun. We disposed off a lot of our junk and have identified things we can donate, which we do not need anymore. So, life is a choice every day. What we make out of it is in our hands not in anybody else’s hands or even God.

Nowadays, I get inspired by the stories I read. I am grateful to each one of them who are exemplifying their bravery and sacrificing their personal lives for the welfare of others. You hear a pregnant lady working on a Covid vaccine and delivering that first before taking care of her kid. You hear a poor farmer giving away all his produce to daily workers so that they survive and not go hungry. All these people also had a choice. They took the choice of making others happy rather than themselves since that gives them more happiness in their lives.

I get inspiration from the common people I meet every day. The bus conductor who is always smiling even when the students get rude and tend to misbehave. Or the traffic cop who uses dance forms in the middle of the road standing in pollution so that he can make his job entertaining and bring smile in the faces of the passer by.

In every situation of life, we have a choice. I have voted to remain happy all the time and try to make others happy. You can also make your choice.

As in the photo above, I also tried my hand at photography, which is one of my passions and hobbies.

What is the choice you have made today ?

S Ramesh Shankar

12th March 2020

Crisis or opportunity ?

Multi-skilling our security guards

Every crisis is an opportunity. That is the way to look at life. If we can find ways and means to convert every crisis or challenge in our lives into an opportunity, we will be better of. It is better to look at life as a chain of possibilities rather than a string of problems.

The lockout in India and many countries around the world is a necessary condition for us to fight a virus, which we do not know much about. While many of us are cursing the government and everyone around us for the situation, some of us are converting this crisis into an opportunity.

Some may ask how do we convert every crisis into an opportunity ? Let me illustrate my point with a few examples – both from my personal life and work life so that we look at possibilities rather than challenges. Let me start with the personal life first.

While we have all the time in the world, some of us are getting bored with it. Some others are wondering what to do. I decided that I will use this time to do housekeeping in our entire house. Every nook and corner of the house got cleaned. All our documents were put in place and arranged systematically. Our clothes were sorted, junk identified and disposed and surplus things segregated to be donated to people who need them more than us.

Similarly at the workplace, we have an opportunity to look at how do we reduce the cost of our operations. We can form teams to innovate and give ideas to cut process delays, make improvements in the way we have been doing things. We can challenge existing systems and processes and get rid of all waste in the system.

In most organisations, material cost accounts to 70% of total cost. How do we reduce this cost ? Even in labour cost, we can think innovative and reduce the same by trimming salaries rather than manpower. For eg. we can reduce senior management salaries by 20%, middle management by 10% and even workmen by 5% in consultation with the unions. This may reduce our overall cost by 10% without having to make people lose jobs. This requires proactive discussions with the unions and preparing employees to face the challenge together. The CEO and senior management could lead this effort by voluntarily taking a 20% cut so that they lead by example.

I am willing to volunteer to partner with any organisation to share ideas and see through till implementation for optimising their costs, especially employee costs without manpower reduction. My services will be honorary and if you achieve your goals, you can contribute to my cause of “preventing blindness amongst children by donating directly to my partner organisation.”

We are in a war like situation in India and most of the countries of the world. We in India are lucky that we are a democratic state. We have an elected government at the centre and in the states. We need to trust our leaders and believe they have more information and wisdom than we have in dealing with this crisis. In a war, we need to trust our leader and follow her or him like a true follower. Followership is more important than leadership in any crisis situation. Many of us are using social media to spread rumours and negativity. This will not help us in any way. Let us spread positivity and salute the front line warriors who are sacrificing their lives to save us.

Each of us can contribute in our little ways by staying at home and be self disciplined. We can support the poor daily wagers by helping them with food, shelter or any other means. Even if each of us take care of the servants who work with us and other low paid employees in our community or workplace, we would be doing our bit to get over this crisis.

As in the photo above, our security guards are supporting us in distributing newspapers, watering the garden, collecting wet waste, housekeeping and many other errands, which is much beyond their job descriptions. This will make them multi-skilled, which will help them in their career too and earn more than they otherwise would.

Let us be happy and proud that India is much better off than most nations in the world. The good news is that the governments at the centre and the states are working together to fight this crisis. We as individuals and communities need to support the government in fighting this war against the virus together.

Let us contribute our little bit every day.

S Ramesh Shankar

14th 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

Our past may not determine our future…

Adapting is the key to the future

One of my ex colleagues called me up to check on how to deal with the current crisis. I told him that “ I don’t know” and that’s the truth. Although I have spent almost four decades working for the best corporations of India and the world, I have not come across a crisis of this type.

This is symptomatic of what the future has in store for us. Our future challenges cannot be solved based on past experiences. Our past may not be able to help us to solve the complexities of the future. It is as simple as the seasons in a year. In the past, we could predict, summer, winter, monsoon, spring and autumn. We could also predict when it will rain in our region. Now with climate change, nothing is predictable. It snows in Middle East and its hot in Europe, which nobody would have even dreamt.

Our life is not going to be very different. We may not be able to anticipate the future. The best of corporations with their intelligent employees and the best of artificial intelligence cannot anticipate the future. Someone has beautifully said that “ The future has a habit of suddenly and dramatically becoming the present..”. That is what is likely to happen. Who imagined a 21 day lockout in a country like India ?

Economic power or technological power may not be able to enable nations to find solutions for human problems. We can find a solution to a problem provided we understand what it is and how it going to impact us. What the current Covid crisis has taught us is that we neither can predict the future nor anticipate it. We have to adapt to the future as it evolves in front of us.

One of things we always talk in corporates is adaptability. It is this ability to adapt to change,which could enable organisations and individuals to cope with it. Even though we may not be able to anticipate or predict the change, we can develop the ability to adapt to it and steer it to our advantage.

All of us may have gone through multiple crises in our lives. Some of us manage it well and get over it fast and move on. While others may get sunk by the crisis and get stuck for the rest of their lives like sinking in quicksand. They can neither pull themselves out nor help others stuck in a similar crisis. The successful people find ways and means to adapt to the crisis and move on.

Organisations are no different. They are like a summation of individual behaviours. That is what we call the organisation culture. HR specialists and managers need to develop this adaptability as a special skill in their teams. If members panic and get sunk, then the organisation may never survive and thrive.

The other quality one can think of is Resilience. This is our ability to withstand a crisis without getting ruffled too much and bounce back. While we may not be able to anticipate a crisis of the Covid type even in the future, we can show resilience and bounce back sooner than others. Organisations which bounce back faster than their competitors are the ones who will succeed and not the ones who keep analysing what went wrong and how to deal with it in the future. This is because the future is no longer going be a reflection of the past.

As individuals, one great lesson this crisis has taught us is to be close to nature. Everything we have done to move away from nature has harmed us. The more we cut forests, build on lakes, dump garbage in the oceans, the more we may have to pay in the future. Individuals in the past fought for survival and growth. On the other hand, individuals in the future will fight for clean air, drinking water, healthy food and so on. These may appear basic today but may become extinct tomorrow if we do not get back to respect nature as we did in the past.

I am a born optimist. I believe this crisis will wake up the world forever. As nations, communities and individuals, we will be more conscious of our duties and responsibilities than in the past. We will create a future of our choice and try to evolve it to become predictable again.

Time to start is today. Let us as individuals commit to make one change in our personal lives. It could be as simple as carrying a cloth bag for all our purchases rather than dumping single use plastic, which is used as carry bags even today. It is not for governments to mandate anymore. It is for individuals to change our own behaviour.

As in the photo above, if you are rowing a boat in the ocean, adapting to the waves will be the key to success as a boatman can never anticipate the wind or waves on the sea.

S Ramesh Shankar

28th March 2020

What do I do post retirement ?

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Today it is exactly a year since I retired from corporate life. One of the oft repeated questions I am asked post my retirement from a professional career in March 2019 is “What do you do nowadays ?”. While it is a fair question to ask, my answer may bemuse you certainly. I seem to be more busy and occupied than during my corporate days.

Now to be specific on how my day is spent, let me share a typical day of mine nowadays post retirement. I get up up around 6 am and then after my morning ablutions, do yoga along with my spouse for about 45 minutes. This is followed by my morning coffee and then a nice nature walk in my campus along with my partner for half an hour.

Then I return home and after a sumptuous breakfast, I read three newspapers. This is a habit, which I pursued thanks to my daughter, who is a student of journalism. This habit is to get different perspectives on the same issue. So I read a business news paper and two newspapers – one generally supporting the government and one opposing it. This helps you get a balanced view of things happening around you. This takes about an hour.

Then I sip a cup of fresh brewed coffee and go to my study room to check my emails and also respond to any issues I am supposed to during the day. I also check my social media and linkedin account and post my responses. I tend to read a bit, when in mood to do so. This I do in a room facing green trees and the wind whistling past me along with birds singing their tunes.

I also meet young professionals in person or on call or video to answer career questions or any conflicts they are facing in their profession. This helps me to share my learnings with them.

It’s time for lunch and both me and my wife have home made lunch together and share our stories for the day. We also exchange information we may have got from different sources since morning which the other person may not have read or heard.

Then I check the news and other updates I get from friends and relatives on my social media accounts and also watch some videos etc before I soak into a healthy afternoon siesta for an hour. This refreshes me for the rest of the day and make me energetic again.

I now go around taking photos of my garden, birds, animals and plants and post some quizzes on social media to share my limited knowledge or to seek answers about things I do not know from my friends and relatives. Some days I skip the afternoon siesta if I have some interesting things to do.

I may also go out to the city for some shopping or meeting partners for my professional engagements. This helps me to be in touch with happenings in the professional world in which I spent the last four decades.

Now it is time to give back to society in some way. So I am busy with my residents welfare association doing some volunteering to improve our quality of life. Further to save water and power in our campus, we are also experimenting with some new techniques.

Nowadays, I have the time to visit friends and relatives in my city and other places and attend all family and social events. I also call on all elders and enquire about their health and well being. Spending time with my life long partner and helping her in her daily chores helps her relax and also gives me joy.

Then it is time to share my limited knowledge. So I am tutoring school kids of our neighbourhood on English, maths and science subjects. They are children of employees working in our campus and I love the sparkle in their eyes, when they speak to me in English. It is indeed a gratifying engagement.

Then my evening coffee and it is time for some sporting action on TV. It could be cricket, tennis, badminton, hockey or any other sport where India is participating. It gives me joy to see Indian sportspersons excelling around the world nowadays. On some days, I am watching a play or some music or dance programme to quench my interests in arts and culture.

I then go for a stroll again for another 30 minutes in the evening to relax and listen to nature at night. This also helps us share our insights during the day and plan for the next day.

Then dinner time followed by some and news and analysis on tv if it is of interest to me. I generally avoid tv except for sports nowadays. Then I also like to see news on cars and bikes from around the world and business updates.

Now it is time for bed and we do pranayama again together and thank God for bestowing us with everything in life and pray for the wellness and happiness of mankind before we have a good night sleep.

Now , you may wonder as to where I have the time to waste even post retirement. I should add that on days I travel out of station, I am driving my car for hundreds of kilometres a day and enjoying nature and environment around me as in the photo above at Hampi.

Is it time for you to retire and join me in this joyful life ?

PS: This blog was written of a typical day before the Covid crisis hit us.

S Ramesh Shankar

10th August 2019

Time to be human again…

The world is hit by a virus. The best of technology and human power is not able to combat this deadly virus. Human lives are being lost every day in thousands around the world due the impact of this virus. What lessons we can learn from this human catastrophe.

I decided that every day I will reflect on one limitation of myself and explore how I can change for the better in the future. Today, I will focus on the innumerable human beings who serve us from morning to night. Do we treat them as humans on equal footing like us or do we still continue to live in our glass houses ?

The outbreak of this virus taught us a lesson that social distancing is applicable for everyone. This virus does not discriminate based on nationality, caste, religion or state you belong to. It randomly impacts people who violate the guidance given by the medical professionals and the government authorities.

On the other hand, we as human continue to discriminate based on caste, religion, social status and nationality. Today let me go through a day in our lives and help us reflect on how many people impact our lives positively sacrificing their own welfare for the societal good.

Our day starts with the morning newspaper boy. He may be working beyond his education hours to earn that extra buck to support his family. We say let us stop the newspaper boy because he may spread the virus. Then the milkman. Imagine the milkman stopping supplies as he is worried about spread of the virus. Our day will begin on a sour note.

We stopped the maids, drivers and Gardners in our community when the lockdown began yesterday. There was a big hue and cry. The members felt that they could not survive without maids for a day. They wanted the maids to sanitise a million times a day but were least concerned about the maids getting impacted by the same virus. We have become so self centred that we want all services possible under the sun but we are least concerned about the health and welfare of maids, drivers and Gardners. As if, they are not human beings like any of us.

We want the sanitary workers to visit us everyday to collect the wet waste. We cannot find an organic way to compost the waste for a few days in a garden or even a pot inside the house. We may get impacted by wet waste inside the house but the sanitary workers are fully immune to all such infections.

Our lives are incomplete without cooks. How can we imagine cooking our own food or cutting our own vegetables ? How does it impact us if cooks are travelling in crowded buses and trains to help us out in our homes. After all it is their duty to serve us and not ours to care for them.

The list can go on. We have our security guards in our campuses who are working 24 x 7. We have municipal employees serving us. We have the utility employees, the police and most important the medical and health workers working round the clock to keep us safe and healthy. What are we doing in return ? In some communities, we are ostracising medical personnel and airlines staff as if they are coming back home only to spread the virus to us. We do not realise that they are putting their lives on the line to serve us day and night.

We as humans have to learn to be grateful to other human beings every day of our lives. No job is menial. No human is high or low. Everyone contributes to the happiness of mankind. We realise only when we pick up the brooms as to how difficult it is to clean the garden in front of our homes. If we put the wet waste in compost bins, we realise how much these workers sacrifice to keep our environs clean.

It is time to look within and change. Let us commit to treat every human being around us as human beings and respect whatever they do and be grateful to them.

S Ramesh Shankar

25th March 2020

Slow down before it is too late…

The Covid -19 virus attack around the world has helped people to forcibly slow down. I have always wondered why people are always on the fast lane especially in their career. The cut throat competition makes people sacrifice their life and family to stay ahead of the curve.

Let me be honest. I was no exception. I also ran the rat race till the age of 38, when suddenly an illness in the family shook me up. I used to spend extra hours at work and never worried too much about my family , friends or relatives. This incident not only shook me up but it changed my life.

I am not sure if it is worthwhile to run in this rate race called life. We need to get our priorities right. It is difficult to draw the line as to where work ends and family life begins. But it is worthwhile to do the same. After all, we all work to lead a happy and healthy life, enjoying ourselves with family and friends. What will we do with all the money we earn if we have no time left with family or friends to celebrate in life.

It may appear philosophical but it is worth reflecting upon. What is the purpose of life ? If we are able to find an answer to this question, it may help us set our priorities in life right. If not, we will continue to wander in this mesh called career / business and will never be able to get out of this vicious circle.

I remember a few years back one of my close relatives consulted me. He had got a great break in a leading fmcg company in Mumbai while he was working in a public sector organisation. He and his spouse both worked for the same public enterprise. Both husband and wife were keen to take up this job in Mumbai but his parents refused to move with him. Since his aged parents stayed with him, he was caught in a dilemma. If he moved, it was good for his career, if he did not move, his parents continue to happily stay with him. So, it took him some time to take a call. After consulting a few well wishers, he decided to sacrifice his career to keep his parents happy.

So, in life, we have to take a call on what is our goal ? What is our purpose ? How do we define happiness ? This could change as we grow up and as our family expands. But it is worth asking these questions time and again and prioritise your life accordingly. We have to remember that money cannot always buy happiness for you. In the true sense, money can make you materially prosperous but inner happiness may still evade you.

Today with the Covid – 19, virus hitting the world, everyone is shaken. Governments are dealing with this crisis every hour. Families are worried for their kith and kin especially if they are working in the virus infected regions or countries. We have to remember that we need to take a call what is important at every stage of our lives.

Having worked in the corporate arena for almost four decades, I am not professing renunciation of one’s career. I am only advocating that we need to set and reset our priorities in life time and again. It is fine if it changes and we go wrong. It is only when we make mistakes do we learn. It is good to learn and change. After all life is a long journey and we get more than one chance to make mid course corrections. However, if we don’t, we cannot blame the world, we need to blame ourselves.

Now is the time to sit back and reflect. Now is the time reset your goals in life. It is never too late but the earlier the better for us.

Lets start today.

S Ramesh Shankar

15th March 2020

Critical eye

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I have met people in my life, who have a critical eye for everything around them. They will read the newspapers word by word and will always be in a position to point out a spelling mistake or language misuse. I am not one amongst them but I do admire them a lot. I have never been meticulous in my life. I am self-disciplined but live life leisurely and sometimes may slip up. I love the critical people around me as they add value to my life.

It is not fair to say whether critical people are good or bad. Each of us have our likes and dislikes in life and have a right to live life on our own terms. I love critical people as they can always point out areas for improvement in our life. They look at things from different angles than ourselves. They have the ability to see things you are not able to. For example if I write an article, I may not find any mistake in spelling or use of language. But they can read the same article and point out a couple of mistakes easily.

It is equally valuable in organisations. We need to have people of different thinking abilities in our teams. Some may think the same way as we do. We need others who think just the opposite way and some in between the two extremes. This not only adds variety to work but also challenges our limits. We are able to think on the same issue from multiple perspectives and this adds value to our work.

If we look at our family environment, it may be worthwhile to have members who think differently. A critical person is able to add value in the family too. It may help us improve ourselves and also our ability to take decisions in different circumstances. We may also sometimes not take wrong decisions because one valuable member of our family cautions us against it. On the contrary if everyone toes the line of the senior family members, we could end up in mistakes, which we could have avoided.

In a democracy, we need a critical opposition so that the government is on its toes. Unfortunately, we do not see this in our parliament nowadays. But one can recall outstanding speeches made by our own parliamentarians as opposition leaders. They have not only been critical of key government decisions but have enabled the ruling government to make mid course corrections.

Even in team sports, it may be worthwhile for captains and coaches to have critical team members in their teams. These members may help team strategise effectively in every situation. They may think differently or even question the team strategy. This may help the team to re craft their strategies or make mid course corrections. Sometimes, this may also help teams to renew themselves against tough opposition.

On the other side, it may not be easy to live with and deal with critical people in your life. One may feel irritated or defensive when one is questioned on everything every day. It may be easier to have like minded people in your family or team. Life is cosier and easy to navigate. We need to develop the magnanimity to encourage diverse thinking in our teams and appreciate the value of it. We need to learn to adapt to critiques.

As in the photo above, my wife Meena R Shankar has a critical eye and hence is my life long editor of all my writings. She is always capable of giving alternative perspectives.

Life may be boring if it is monotonous. Imagine watching a TV programme or movie in black and white all the time. Once in a way it may look interesting. However, we always like things to be colourful around us. The same is true in life. We need to have variety and spice to make life full. We need people thinking differently and diversely. We need to learn to respect them and deal with them effectively.

Life is fun with diversity.

S Ramesh Shankar

Has Religion become a business ?

Every one of us has the freedom to choose our religion in a democratic state. We may be Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Muslims or Buddhists. In my view, all religions lead us to the same destination. The routes could be different but the goal post is the same. Each religion teaches you multiple ways of attaining your goal. At every stage of life, you realise that you have to improve a lot to reach your ultimate station in life.

Am I religious ? I am not sure. My definitions of religion is ” To be a better human being, every day I live, enjoying myself and making life enjoyable for everyone around me in whatever ways I can.” I am a Hindu and proud to be so. Hinduism is one of the most liberal religions in the world. It gives you alternative paths and allows you to choose what best suits you. It neither imposes any rituals on you nor directs your behaviour or actions. The same may be true for most modern religions of the world.

However, I do believe that “Religion” has become a business in the world today. The causes for this belief could be life style and stress of people today. We are constantly competing in the world and want the best of everything around us with minimum of efforts. We are in a rat race and never satisfied with what we have. Our greed invariably exceeds our need. This leads to unavoidable stress and then we fall prey to religious leaders who exploit this emotional vacuum in us.

We tread on a dangerous path out of our own choice. We want to conquer the world before anyone else. We are willing to sacrifice our health and life to achieve our goals. Sometimes, we may be willing to compromise on our values to realise our dreams. This leads to degeneration of life and also may impact our health. It not only makes us physically vulnerable but emotionally too.

While technology today could help us detect and cure physical illness, it may not be able to cure our emotional strain. We then turn to our family and friends for emotional support. When friends and family do not have the time or patience , we go to the religious gurus. They could be from any religion you follow. All religious gurus tend to exploit the situation we are in and make this their business.

We are willing to spend a lot of money to get rid of this emotional trauma. We do not realise that we are responsible for putting ourselves in this situation. We cannot blame the world or our family, friends or colleagues for putting ourselves in this quandary. Then we approach a religious guru. Most religious leaders today are running religion like a business. They look at how to exploit your weakness into monetary gain for themselves.

These are the actions, which makes me lose respect for the religious leaders. I sometimes feel bad even visiting temples or other religious places because the leaders create an atmosphere of greed in these spiritual places. Anything and everything can be monetised. You can have a darshan of God faster by paying more money. We forget that all humans are equal in front of God. We are happy to flaunt our money to get closer access to God or their forms.

If I reflect, I would like to blame myself for this state of affairs. We, as individuals have through our actions made religion a business. Our greed is exceeding our need and thus leading to religious exploitation. We start believing that we can busy anything and everything in life through money. The day we realise that money cannot buy everything in life and least so happiness, we may be better off.

As in the photo above, we have to restore the sanctity of religion by our own actions in every day life.

It is time to reflect ? What do you think ?

S Ramesh Shankar