Have you ever heard the argument that life in India brings you closer to our original nature thanks to the extremes in our society? I’ve lived here for the better part of my life and I think I can safely say that the first part just isn’t true. Yes, we do have extremes. Problems that really can rip right through the fabric of what makes us human. But a consistent exposure to those extremes grows our insensitivity. It becomes routine to ignore what’s broken and refuse to outgrow what we’ve been good at in the hope that the other problems will solve themselves. It is in this very struggle that we rediscover our original nature and show ourselves.
This post is about two short stories of a passion like none other.
Life is hardest here for our poor. When they’re sick, they won’t find options for better treatment. Not because of the lack of money, but because they lack the ability to read and write. All Indian private hospitals have provisions and perhaps the compassion for the economically challenged. However, getting past the admissions process is daunting, requires forms to be filled and explanations to be made. I imagine if you’re sick you’ll want to simply avoid the stress and accept the state-sponsored care you can get by default.
Ravi Saxena of Ghazipur on the other hand has found a way to fix this. As a tea vendor, he makes Rs. 8,000 working for 20 days in a month. The remaining 10 days Ravi invests in helping the poor get past the admissions process in private hospitals and claim the benefits. Ravi says that his family and friends encourage him to concentrate on his business but he prefers to put the poor first. I learned about Ravi’s story first in the Times of India*.
The next story is about Myshkin Ingawale and about his invention that makes it possible to test for anemia in the field. As Myshkin explains in this talk, anemia is a solvable condition that goes largely undiagnosed. An anemic expecting mother is at very high risk at childbirth, especially if her condition is unknown to those attending on her. Myshkin was inspired by one such case he learned of through a friend and doctor who attended on a mother who died at childbirth. Myshkin aims to equip health workers with his invention at scale making it possible for next steps in treatment.
Ravi and Myshkin are integrating our country in their own ways. Their stories deserve to be a part of our collective consciousness. Their daily effort grants them a freedom that has always been uniquely Indian – to be yourself. A freedom that comes from the self-knowledge that we all can listen to. The knowledge that we’re doing our bit.
Wish you all a Happy Independence Day 2013!
I’ve picked up the unofficial biography of Narendra Modi by Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay. It’s been a great read so far- his early years, backdrop of his upbringing and his teenage years. Without giving too much away, even if you believe you know Modi’s work, his persona is a certain surprise. For instance, young Narendra had a strong spiritual bend growing up in Vadnagar and later as he embarked in the footsteps of Swami Vivekananda.
An excerpt from the book when a 21 year old Narendra returned from his spiritual quest,
I asked him (Narendra Modi) when did he return to the material world after his wanderings and he said: ‘Actually, even now I have not completely returned to the material world. But at a later point (of his wanderings) I felt that if I have to do something then I have to become part of some system, some structure. So that is when I met Vakil Sahab (Lakshmanrao Imandar) in 1971. I consulted him and told him what I had done. I told him that I now felt that the time had come for me to tie myself down to something — do something from one place — in one position and I requested him to guide me.’
Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay. “Narendra Modi : The Man. The Times”.
I guess the least one can do is get to know their leaders better.
Was it necessary for the Indian media to publish the complete transcript of Jiah Khans’ suicide note?*
Was it necessary to publish Sreesanth’s diary and his thoughts on anger management issues when it has no bearing on the spot-fixing case against him?**
Our respect for the truth and what is private only seems to be diminishing. What on earth justified that this information be revealed? Why should someone’s troubled thoughts about a close one be made public before a court of law has made it’s decision?
Trial by media in India is the new mob ‘lynching‘. Information is the hangman’s noose. It’s troubling to recognize that greed has a greater say in shaping our opinions, over careful thought and respect for the private struggles of an individual. Times of India may have completed 175 years of journalism, but in this respect progress is clearly in the wrong direction.
Ethics and integrity don’t bend at will, but *we* do. We’re all geared to intuitively know when the line has been crossed.
* Times of India, Economic Times, other newspapers – 11th June.
** “Sreesanth the hothead, resolved to keep it cool” – Times of India, 19th May.
Celebrating the Webby – Lifetime Achievement award to the creators of GIF’s, political gifs, the broken attitude of the law towards censorship of the Indian Web and the systemic lack of clarity in the Indian media.
What’s really going to happen if India falls for Nawaz Sharif again?
How I felt when I first heard former BCCI chief Jaywant Lele’s argument that we should legalize betting to end the cricketer-bookie nexus.
Why the Chinese are still laughing (at us).
Any bloggers first response to being served with a defamation response letter.
Recently SpicyIP were threatened to be sued by a law firm representing Times of India for an innocuous article commenting on the 19 year old trademark fight between Times of India and Financial Times over trademarks “FT” and Financial Times. We’d expect better from the defenders of “free speech”.
Public response to Sahara groups decision to end it’s Pune Warriors franchise participation in Indian Premier League.
iGate Board of Directors meeting with sacked CEO, Phaneesh Murthy …
Thank you to political gifs for putting these hilarious gifs together.
The current generation above 60 years of age have plenty of reason to feel betrayed and let down. Having brought up their kids into a new India where jobs pay better, opportunities are so much more – the parents are now left to fend off a significant jump in the cost of living, healthcare and isolation. Social structures are constantly changing, change that has brought both difficulty and an opportunity.
This excellent piece of journalism by India Ink (NY Times in India) points out that the problem is indeed both deep and wide. I don’t know how many seniors out there face this problem, but I don’t have to look too far to understand how this can upset the elderly.
“The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.” – Nassim Taleb
— Santosh Dawara (@santoshdawara) October 25, 2010
I tweeted that and endorsed an extreme position some time ago. Since then, I’ve had plenty of time and experience to think through both sides of having a steady income. I’ve looked at it from the perspective of growing up, having a steady job and later as an entrepreneur by self-choice. I’ve lived both avatars, the locomotive kid* and the 25-yr old who’s plugging away on his venture from his parent’s basement (they’re my Angel Investors!). A steady income has significant upsides. It will help you save regularly, smoothen out sudden spikes in expenses, qualify you for borrowing from institutions and get you ready for your retirement.
On the other hand, the total absence of the ups and downs that is life encourages complacency, over-reliance and self-indulgence. Who can tell? Perhaps the nest-egg we’ve put away today still won’t make the cut tomorrow. In the words of Nassim Taleb who author of the Black Swan, the total absence, or insulation from even the minor shocks leaves your earning potential vulnerable to the bigger and more infrequent shocks.
In any case those who are unfortunately disenfranchised from mainstream jobs include recent Mothers who chose to stay longer hours at home, and as in this case Senior citizens. They all need better awareness of opportunities for work and encouragement. While retirement planning helps – it helps better to nurture the ability to locate opportunities, deliver and get paid at any age or stage. Not having a steady income begs a more evolved survival mindset. The confidence that comes from going out there and learning to make a dollar is worth so much more. As you can imagine, I never want to have to think that I’ve retired. I’d prefer to be working away and creating happiness throughout my journey. In a nutshell, I want the notion of ikigai – “the reason for which we wake up in the morning” or, “the reason for being” to pervade my entire life.
Tony Hsieh’s childhood mail order business comes to mind. He describes it vividly in his book Delivering Happiness. In fact, Tony handed it down to his younger siblings before he left home for college so that they might continue to run it and reap the benefits. A wonderful gift! The opportunity to drive a business that transforms effort into a cheque can spark confidence in the inner-knowedge that the future is yours to create. Now armed with this confidence, will you need great effort in securing your future?
Of late, I’m working on making it a habit to ask myself – how do I want all of my efforts to take shape? This thinking comes with commitments to absorbing effectual reasoning and an attitude of ‘always produce‘. For instance, this blog has always been a work of passion for as far back as I can remember. If I could keep the essence of it, and yet to be able to realize the value it creates. I think that’d be a step in the right direction. Now when I write, I consciously link via an Amazon affiliate link which pays if someone were to buy. I wish to think up more ideas like this. Simple actions and commitments, even if they don’t yield significant or immediate results can directly address any financial pressure and encourage clear thinking that something can be done.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not railing against a steady income – that’d be truly hypocritical at this point. The comfort that you’ll know from pro-actively creating a better financial future with your single income is a blessing. If you think too seriously about supplementing that income, you risk stress and losing the happiness and freedom that comes with it. On the other hand, if you want to think entrepreneurially – then ask yourself why stop there? The whole point of realization of wealth should be the same as say committing to life-long learning, or instinctively listening to an audio book while you wait in traffic for the light to turn green. Find meaningful investments.
I’d look to learn as much as I can from blogs such as getrichslowly.org and by observing other entrepreneurs with the midas touch about both aspects of wealth – how it is realized, as well as making it work for you. If you want to stop having to think about money, ignoring it is the worst policy. Work at it diligently and it’ll take it’s place at the back of your mind on it’s own.
*Locomotive Kids – First read of it in the New Yorker, “They are the locomotive kids, pulling their whole family behind them” when referring to some of those with Stanford fellowships.