values

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My Bees and their Beehive

Published September 23, 2017 by vishalvkale

THE BEES COME TO ME…
I count myself lucky that I had a massive beehive right outside my living room window, on the window concrete sun-shade slab. For several months, the two of us- the harmful and dangerous human being, and those harmless gentle honey bees – co-existed without any trouble to each other. They didn’t bother me, and I didn’t bother them. But this period have me insights both into Honeybees as well as human behavioral aspects, insights that I shall carry with me my entire life. The images of this honey-beehive are given below, which can highlight its closeness to my habitat.
I first noticed them when a few came inside from the open window; I was at a loss as to what to do, till I figured out they were attracted by the light. Only then did I spot the Beehive, and nearly panicked & spoke to the society incharge for immediate redressal of this “grave” threat to my habitat and existence. The bees – they didn’t care too much for me, ignoring me as irrelevant, unimportant and useless, an observation I now agree with!



THE BEEHIVE
Note that-  both of us were close – very close, physically, to each other. And yet, I – the larger animal was scared, while they, the infamous stinging bees, were unconcerned. My existence was as much a danger to them; perhaps a greater danger – and yet they co-existed peacefully. We weren’t causing each other too much inconvenience; and yet the Human Being felt threatened. They didn’t sting me, or anyone in my certain knowledge – and yet, we felt threatened by them. Threatened enough by their mere closeness to us to have them removed forcibly. So who is the greater danger to whom? Humans to the bees or the bees to the Humans?



This interchange is emblematic of our overall interaction with the environment and the way we permanently reshape and alter it. While I don’t deny the presence of some risk, the chances of a stone hitting the Hive causing the bees to get irritated did exist, to be frank; the fact remains that the Bees, by themselves, had done nothing to harm or inconvenience us in any way. It only meant that we could keep the Jali windows open, that is all. Even if the bees came inside- they didn’t harm us humans at all. They committed suicide by getting pulled to the light. And yet, instead of finding ways of co-existence with the environment we seek to alter it, just so we can be slightly more convenient and comfortable.



Now move in a little closer – note the execution perfection of the hive, the complete and wonderful perfection displayed by the hexagonal cells and the way it all comes together. This has been achieved by over several hundred individuals working in tandem towards a common goal; I regretfully accept that as of now, I don’t see how we humans can achieve this incredible level of teamwork shown in these images above. And when the hive was broken – the perfection with which they removed the remains in a few short hours was simply breathtaking!


TEACHINGS BY THE BEES AND THE BEEHIVE
But above and beyond this – the Beehive taught me some other, pertinent and valuable lessons in management, human behaviour that left me speechless. Having observed them from so close for so long –  a distance of barely 2 feet from the 2 feet by 2.5 feet by 8 inches beehive gave me lessons that shall stay with me my whole life. Look at the images above now- and observe. Observe the stunning, nay – mesmerizing teamwork in the way these insects, which aren’t sentient beings, settle together on the hive; observe their focus and their commitment to the common good of the hive. And when disturbed – the speed with which they relocated and renewed taught me a lesson in execution in uncertain times.
This is something that is never found in us Humans – despite being sentient, highly intelligent, thinking, literate and in some rare cases – educated people. Despite this, Humans have rarely, if ever, displayed such commonality, speed and dedication as displayed by these bees. And whenever we have done so – either wonders or disaster has followed. The reason for that is our desires, ambitions play a major role in taking us away from the common purpose, and drive us towards individual achievements, thereby unmaking the good of teamwork. And this happens in almost every Human Endeavour.
Thus, while on the one hand, our higher intellect has made us capable of achieving wonders, our attendant desires have made us incapable of actually achieving those same wonders! Curiously, it is dreams / desires that aid in unlocking potential – unless you desire something, dream – you cannot figure out that such a thing exists -which is why bees will remain bees. But these same desires, when unhindered – binaa lagaam ke ghodaa,  a horse a without a rein – lead us astray, both on an individual level as well as collectively.
ANIMALS & INSECTS VS US
It is rather surprising and more than a little shameful if you think of it – animals and insects, operating without a high intellect, can pull off wonders with teamwork; and we Humans, with our high intellect, cannot do anything on a similar scale. When you consider that every Beehive, and many other animals / insects, do it universally, the Human folly of individualism – given to us by western civilization in some ways as well as  driven by our own nature & selfish desires – becomes all the more shameful. The thought of what we can achieve if we were to learn to work together for a common good is tantalizing, and highly attractive – but extremely hard to pull off in reality, considering the ground realities. At this point, take a close look again – you will find a few types of bees – all doing their own roles expertly.
THE POSITIVE POWER AND THE NEGATIVE PROBLEM OF OUR DESIRES
Human desires are our main strength – they drive innovation, and are indispensable. And Human activities are also hugely diverse; thus, the learning we can take from this above example is simple this: we have to find ways to marry the two – individual desires & individual abilities and weld the two into one powerful whole. Therein lies the gist of what leadership is truly about: it isn’t about getting those numbers, that bottom or topline, or whatever. It is about selecting, training and placing the right person for the right job to enable organizational performance and excellence. Each individual has strengths and desires – we just need to, as individuals and as leaders both, find the right sweet spot. In other words, we need to stop chasing the crowd, find what we are good at, choose from these what gels with our desires, control the both of them – and execute.
The above rarely, or rather, almost never happens. We go by rote, we follow the herd, be it education or be it jobs; we rarely analyse and understand either ourselves or our teams, or indeed the organization and the situation, and blindly ape the rest of the world : forgetting that it is the constant execution of the small tiny things that ensures excellence. Forgetting that control over desires, understanding innate talent and strengthening it is the way to succeed, not following the herd. Watching that Beehive gave me these powerful insights, insights that had laid dormant in me – as evidenced by my previous thoughts on this matter.
APPLICATION TO ORGANISED HUMAN ACTIVITY
This applies for organisations as well as individuals; I fact- all organized / individual activity – if you don’t have the right team to execute in a changed external atmosphere, or if your analysis is not as per ground realities – you are almost certain to fail over the long term. The difference between humans and bees can manifest here : a human beehive would probably not be built on the lintel of another species residence, as the inherent danger should be obvious to us. And yet, we always disregard, and build our beehives {individual lives / organisations etc}  the same way, unmindful of the long term risks posed by our approach and our strategy! As proof, we simple have to list the list of brand and company failures in the past…
SAYING BYE TO THE BEES AND THE BEEHIVE
But the worst part of this entire episode was that I had to, with great reluctance, let go of the Beehive as my colony and my society wouldn’t have it any other way. What is worse, neither would I; the long term risk of an irritated nest so close to home was too great. Yet, it is noteworthy that, left to their own devices, the Bees would not have troubled me at all. In fact, I had gotten used to them living a few feet away. The complete inability of our species to adjust for the environment, and how far we have gone away from it – is the saddest aspect of all.
I for one am very delighted that Parmatma chose me to see this wonder barely 2 feet away from  myself on a daily basis, with its rapturous perfection, teamwork, execution excellence and genius – and the superb beauty of the natural order of things… they have taught me the true meaning of leadership, the true purpose of a leader; they have taught me management; but more than that, above all – the Bees and the Beehive has taught me the power of the environment, and how it is we Humans that are a problem with our ever-increasing desires and selfishness, and lack of adjustment capability… 
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Movie Review – Ek Unaad Divas & Its Life Lessons

Published June 22, 2017 by vishalvkale

There are few movies that stick in your mind, entertain you & teach you a life lesson; as well as pull you back to them every once in a while… this movie, Ek Unaad Divas – is one of them. Great pity that this is in Marathi – for this is one movie that needs to be made in Hindi so that ever larger number of people can watch, enjoy and live & change their lives by it! That said, Hindi movie industry just doesn’t have the required depth to make a movie of this caliber. Sad, but true.
THE PLOT
The concept is simple – a highly paid, top corporate hot-shot, portrayed by Ashok Saraf, gets forced into loaning his car for the day to a client, who has just closed a 5-Cr order. And on that very day, Taxis are on strike – so he has to walk back. On the way, he runs into his childhood friend – a lower-middle class man earning 2453/- per month. The hot-shot, Vishwas Dabholkar {Saraf}, and the friend end up having lunch – a life-turning experience for the big man, as he is stunned by the happy outlook of his companion!
The rest of the movie is a roller-coaster as the wonder-struck Dabholkar, stunned by his experience with the poorer friend, walks through the streets to his office with a newly broadened approach towards life. Along the way, we get to learn, or rather, re-learn life – through the eyes & experiences of Vishwas Dabholkar, who interacts with life around him with a newly defined approach towards life – an open, happy approach, savouring many moments and leaving us many, many lessons for us.
THE LESSONS
The movie gets heart-wrenching, yet warming, as the hot-shot big man, walking through the small streets to his office, runs into many unfortunate souls, poor people and people from all walks of life – and yet impacting them in a nice way, helping them in their troubles, thinking – for once – not of self or own family, but of others. That in itself is a big learning, that it doesn’t take too much effort to be nice to other people, and that one can be good to people regardless of their stature, age or social standing
Another hard-hitting lesson is the detachment of “My Achievements, this is me, etc” from the self : forgetting one’s Ego… which can lead to seeing the wonder in so many people and instances in life. My own experience, which was forced on me, taught me this not so long ago – when I learnt a lot from my students, 20 years my junior, when I was a visiting faculty to them. If they are reading this – thanks for showing me a side of life I had forgotten all about; in your youthful openness, optimism and approach I learnt a life lesson, a management lesson, as well as made me a better manager all in one.
These and many many other small lessons in the movie, which  are really important for modern life – the real value of money & sharing, the importance of thinking of the other person, the value of being selfless, understanding the needs of others, being basically a nice person – all those things which the modern metrosexual educated person calls impractical, like things concerning values / ethics / decency / honesty / fun / caring for others –  make this movie one-of-a-kind, and kind of special. This movie shall remain one of the most memorable movies and life experiences for me; I for one shall never forget this movie. My personal thanks to the entire staff involved in making this movie, and teaching me a life lesson!
We take life so seriously – our jobs, our money, our career – even our family, our children’s careers & lives, that somewhere along the line we forget to live. We are so enraptured by the trappings of life, of its attachments, its pulls that we ourselves don’t realise the damage we our doing ourselves and our society. The money will remain here when we die – that apart, by being too focused, we forget the small pleasures of life – something that makes us automatons, machines almost; running after success and money all the time. This pressure even translates to extreme pressure on our children, as we insanely drive them for marks, not on the knowledge & education, as well as the right values… is this the way to live? Go after success, money, ego forgetting the small pleasures & values of life, the importance not just of your own self, but of everyone in your life – small or big in stature… do we ever stop to think?  

A word about the story, editing and the characterization – awesome. One word I had promised – and one word it is, without qualification – awesome. The dreamers have created one hell of an awesome product. The best part is that it is a fun watch; a hugely entertaining movie throughout. There is only one song in them movie – and what a song! Hur Hur Aste Teech Uri, Divas Baraa Ke Ratra Bari! An unforgettable number that will grow on you with its melodious tones &classy lyrics. All in all, this is a tremendous and near perfect movie that is a must watch by anyone who understands Marathi. While it teaches a lot of lessons, changes you as a person, forces you to ask youself some deep questions – it does so in a gently, fun, decent and entertaining way. As the last scene fades away you are left refreshed! 

The Shrimad Bhagwad Geeta and Leadership – 1

Published February 20, 2017 by vishalvkale

This is a realisation that came to me hard when I was doing my habitual morning reading of The Shrimad Bhagwad Geeta; my thoughts on my learnings of two verses are tabulated below. 

BE PRACTICAL, MY FRIEND – DON’T CHANGE THE WORLD
Don’t try to change the world… Change Yourself…
The headline of this article says it all; this is the most common rejoinder people get when they try to set an example, with one single refrain – aap duniya nahi badal sakte; be practical, this is the way it is, and many other variations along this theme. Hidden in this lovely gem of a statement, this remarkably ignorant statement is a litany of problems, all of which hover around one single tragic theme in our society today. Some critics of this habit call it apathy, some selfishness, some a lack of confidence while some others blame it on the prevalent atmosphere. 
CHANGE AGENTS
There are two aspects or parameters to this, in my humble view; the first is ideological, and thoroughly idealistic in both its intent and its wording. Simply put – if everyone thinks along these lines, then, ladies and gentlemen, the simple reality is that nothing will ever change in any aspect of human endeavour, be it society or be it science. Change is a constant, and it is the change agents who bring about that change. By discouraging the change agents, you can only delay the change, with all its attendant effects good as well as bad– not cancel the change
In any field of human endeavour, it has been the change agents who have brought about defining change, despite the fact that they were all, without exception, ridiculed and even called fools, to put it bluntly.  There is no change agent I am aware of who did not have to struggle to get the change in place. Even top scientists & famous leaders had to struggle, read their biographies. The choice is between selfish faceless mediocrity, and selfless service! And it is also a fact that only a small number of people from these change agents actually succeed – but isn’t the norm in any field, where success percentage is actually always a small fraction?
But the fact is that, as any biography will readily confirm, the successful change agents build on a series of previous change efforts put in my innumerable nameless and faceless people. That is why it is absolutely essential to continue to swim against the tide in a defined moral and/or scientific direction – you may not succeed, but you and countless others might {will?) become the cause of someone who does manage to succeed. This is true for any field of activity – Science, Trade, Society – any human activity. It takes uncommon courage to go against the tide – and my advise to those who do so is that you are special, a person of raw courage and guts. Never ever give up!
LEADERS
The others aspect is the one of leadership. Now we define leaders as business leaders, political leaders  etc – I am not referring to these. I am referring to any leader, which  includes the above and many more – society leaders, opinion leaders, role-models, teachers, etc. Anyone who leads or influences even one person is a leader. It is a known philosophical as well as scientifically established reality that people try to follow and emulate those whom they see as leaders. I refer you to this verse from our Holy Book, The Shrimad Bhagwad Geeta, Chapter 3 Verses 20 & 21 :
कर्मणैव हि संसिद्धिमास्थिता जनकादय: |
लोकसंग्रहमेवापि सम्पश्यन्कर्तुमर्हसि || 20||
यद्यदाचरति श्रेष्ठस्तत्तदेवेतरो जन: |
यत्प्रमाणं कुरुते लोकस्तदनुवर्तते || 21||
By performing their prescribed duties, King Janak and others attained perfection. You should also perform your work to set an example for the good of the world. Whatever actions great persons perform, common people follow. Whatever standards they set, all the world pursues. Leaders of society thus have a moral responsibility to set lofty examples for inspiring the rest of the population by their words, deeds, and character. When noble leaders are in the forefront, the rest of society naturally gets uplifted in morality, selflessness, and spiritual strength.
I have given in the links below 4-6 commentaries; please go through them. They all talk of the same interpretation, and the role of leaders in forming societal values and norms. And this what the holiest of our Sanaatan Dharmi books tell us, written thousands of years ago. My personal definition of the word leader in the societal context is thought leaders, intellectuals, journalists, writers, filmmakers and actors, political leaders, social leaders etc.
Do we demand these qualities of our leaders – any leader? Do we judge them on such or similar parameters – or do we judge them by their status in terms of power, achievements and wealth? Arent we, as a society, placing a premium on the means of achievement attainment rather than the methods and values? What message are we sending society, what role models are creating? In the modern world, we set store by money earned, goods acquired, power attained – not on the values portrayed…
The least we can do is stop ridiculing the tough hard fighters who are trying to bring about change for the good; no one is asking or forcing you to emulate them. Change, true lasting change, cannot be enforced; it has to be embibed. It is a chain, wherein you add people one-by-one; it is inherently slow in the initial phases until it acquires critical mass.
Even our Scriptures, as also science, says the same; leaders have to show an uncommonly high standard of moral behaviour in any and all aspects. The least we can and should do is not discourage people who have the strength of character to be upright in these trying times. And the most we can do – choose leaders basis moral values, which,  as things stand today, is frankly a tough call…  
Agreed with the world – be practical, my friend. Dont change the world, but then, no one is trying to change the world. But you can and should set a moral behavioural example for the world. Now that is doable, isnt it? 


LINKS:
The Eternal Duties of a Human Beings – Geeta 3/21
Geeta as it is 3-21  
Holy Bhagvad Geeta 3-20/21 

Is Something Seriously Wrong With Us?

Published May 9, 2016 by vishalvkale

A DANCE OF DEATH…
Another day, another month, another year – and yet another display of cruel insensitivity by us Indians, this time watching as a person burns to his death on a crowded street, with no one coming forward to help. It is one thing if you try to help, and were not able to – or if you try to help but were prevented by the intensity of the fire, but just standing and watching is quite another. What were you watching? It wasn’t a street drama; it was a dance of death being played. Either you stop to help – or bloody well move on so that other, better people than you can help!
Insensitivity, callousness, fear – or all of the above? Just what is the problem that causes incidents like the one in the article from The Indian Express below? We have seen many, many such sad and cruel responses from the public over the years, some of which I myself have documented on my blog from time to time. Each time, I think and, rather, hope – that these are isolated incidents, ones which are reported due to their transparently callous and cruel nature; that we are a nation of 1.3 Billion plus, and that isolated incidents aren’t the barometer…




IS SOMETHING SERIOUSLY WRONG WITH US?
But when similar happenings take place again and again and again – one has to conclude that there is something seriously wrong with at least some people among us; that we need to look in a mirror and see for ourselves what we are increasingly becoming. We have seen it before – driving on by a couple of victims, watching accident victims and more; and have demonstrated magnificent inaction and the ardent followership of it-isnt-my-problem-so-why-should-I-care.
But what happened in this episode just beggars belief; a display of inhumanity and cruelty beyond words, beyond description and beyond comprehension. I am frankly stunned, with bile rising in my throat and shocked numbness in my mind as I read the unbelievably shocking display of inhumanity, crass selfishness, callousness & total lack of empathy, and mind-numbing insensitivity on display in this terrifying episode.  People just standing and watching!
If this was all there was to it – it would have been routine for India – as we shall observe later in this article; what takes the cake here is that not only were people watching, they were taking videos and further uploading them on Youtube! This is something that you want to have a Video of? What for, pray tell? What makes it so fascinating? A human being is burning to death, an agonizing and horrific way to go, and the best you can think of is taking a video? What happened to plain human decency and feelings? And let us not forget common sense, which, by current evidence, is highly uncommon?
THIS IS A HABIT WITH US…
We have seen this many, many time before; this shocking inhuman behaviour by Indians of all hues, colors, education, livelihood, age and gender. Everytime there is a small road accident- even a biker falling – you will see crowds gathering and watching. Watching – mind it; doing nothing, precisely nothing, and just watching. In doing so, they clog up roads, disturb and delay people, waste resources as well as time – but they watch all the same.
What curious fascination, what amazing pull others’ misfortune holds for us as a people, isn’t it? We unfailingly watch, each and every time. But no- we never, ever, stop forward to help, to lend a helping hand. Why do you watch – do tell? Is it fun? Someone is hurt, is in pain, or is dying – and you stand and watch? How does that help? What satisfaction do you get from it? And if it is curiosity – what good will satisfying your curiosity do? Why don’t you help – or move on, if you don’t want to help? Moving on it actually preferable if you cannot actually do anything to change the status quo!
WHY BYSTANDING IS WRONG
In fact, the act of standing, of just watching, satisfying your “curiosity”, is actually quite harmful to the situation. This first of all prevents access to those people who are real “men” so to speak {sorry, ladies, no insult intended – just using an old English idiom}. These real men or women can help, want to help – isn’t it possible that their access is prevented by no-good bystanders who are creating a crowd? Further, crowd inaction might also dissuade those in the crowd with real humanity and guts, those who have feelings, but don’t act since the crowd isn’t doing so.
Not only that – let me go further. If you stop to watch even a small accident on the road just out of curiosity – please don’t. What good can you do? Either help – or don’t stop, be selfish – and move on. Clear the space for those who can help; that will be your contribution to the cause, and will be genuinely appreciated. What gets me is why be curious at all? It is fine to be curious, see and then lend a hand; it is not so fine if your curiosity leads to you watching! Why watch? You have seen the misfortune – so move on; why does someone else’s misfortune hold such a magnetic attraction? What does it say of you as a person? Not a lot, to be brutally frank.

If this article has touched you in any way – please think of how you respond and behave under such circumstances. This applies to me as well – I have also soul-searched, and asked myself – what would my response be? I know for a fact that I don’t stop if there are bystanders or a crowd, since it will only add to the clog and confusion; but how will I react when I am the first on the scene? I hope I never have to answer that. Whatever the reason for your inaction – callousness, cruelty, fear, other issues – they are your problems; the best you can do is not stop to watch, leaving the space for others who can help. And videos – boss, it isn’t cool to take videos of others’ suffering; it is cruel, callous, inhuman and shockingly sad….

EDUCATION, POLITICS – AND PATRIOTISM

Published February 28, 2016 by vishalvkale

PREAMBLE AND PERSONAL THOUGHTS

Recents events have brought students and universities {well, one particular university at least} to the forefront of the public discourse and media attention, alongwith all its sad and regrettable consequents; this has given rise to yet another impassioned debate in Social Media, Media as well as normal homes  – with both the Pro BJP and the anti BJP lobbies again rising to the occasion, as it were. FB posts, Whatsapp updates in support of the BJP, or questioning it are the order of the day once again, after a short breather…
Next, the Government : I am a middle roader. I criticize where criticism is warranted, praise where praise is due. I have begun to note a clear polarisation of camps into pro and anti BJP, and that makes me highly uncomfortable; both camps claiming the other is wrong, and both sides being demonstrably and completely wrong in at least some of their contentions. Having been questioned by close friends and family on this, I intend to keep my peace. The way forward cannot be arguments with the people you love. Some of my readers have stated I am dodging the issue…
What you call dodging is in reality steering clear of issues where no clear evidence is available for me to take a defined position; that is why I have avoided the specific issue of Mr Kanhaiyya, and have transposed it into the larger College issue. I do not have access to information that enables me to take a stand, and taking a position based on opinionated Media peices is not me. Neither is such a position fair, nor is it desirable.

THE EPISODE

On what evidence are we saying Kanhaiyya is guilty? Conversely, on what evidence are we saying he is innocent? I have seen nothing that confirms either way. If he is guilty, frankly, as a proud Indian, I stand solidly with the pro-BJP camp on this. No one  can be allowed to shout anti-India slogans, and that is my stated position on this : note the the clear and big “if”
Conversely, if he is innocent, {as well as the others}, then he should be exonerated. Then the public will be justified in asking the Government for answers on the episode – not before. I can raise many questions – droves of them – on either side of the coin, none of which has satisfactory answers. Thus, if I am to state an opinion basis available data that I have run across, it would be erroneous.  If he is innocent, far more good would be done by first approaching in a calm manner, laying the complete facts before the public…
It would be really tragic if he turns out to be innocent; that I readily grant. Then, the questions will be asked. The question is how can I as an individual help in such a scenario, given I dont know him, or anything about him? Answer : keeping my peace, hoping in and trusting the Judiciary, and God. Time will tell. It would be a capital mistake to fan emotions by taking any stance in the absence of direction and information. That way lies a path none of us want to take…

 

THE LARGER QUESTION OF OUR EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM

 

HISTORY : LETS US MOVE ON

I draw your attention to Mrs Irani’s speech, specifically the third part on youtube. Watch it carefully – not for her intonations, and skills – but for the facts she states. She raises several interesting – deeply interesting – points. I would rather you read it than listen; I prefer reading speeches minus the emotion that distorts understanding. Try and answer those points: Mahishasur, Dalit, Aryan, Aurangzeb, Shivaji and others; all making reference to History. That is one. Then look at the books she shows used in our classrooms, or were used at any rate. That is two.
Moving on – there are two sides : or rather three. History,  Common Sense, and Politics. Regarding History and its related matters, it would be best for me, as well as others, to maintain silence, at least on matters with modern relevance, as these have many parameters than need negotiation, and is thus beyond the scope or recommendation of a blog without a proper detailed study. {Look at my history articles to get an idea of what a study entails; and such dicey matters require far more solid research before any attempt at penning an opinion can be made}

PATRIOTISM AND EDUCATION

Much has been said about nationalism and patriotism; you regard Universities as places of Patriotism? The people who run away from India, change citizenship come from our universities, dont they? What are we doing wrong in our education system? Are we creating Indians, or are we creating people who place self above nation,  who run away, people for whom professional achievement is above national purpose?
The ones who choose self above nation, are ALL highly educated. How many IITians have joined the Army, pray tell? {Just an example}. So yes, the ones who run away DO come from Universities, and . the damage from these has never been calculated; if it were done, I for one would not be surprised if the number beats hollow any benefits accrued, and then some. But let us leave this line of thought here, lest we digress from the topic at hand.
Sure, the Universities produce patriots as well; I could name them at length, for years and years, the list is so long. But few of these are patriots because of what they learnt in college. Statement of simple fact. Do we teach nationalism, patriotism, tales of sacrifice and courage in our Colleges, outside of History Graduation? We dont. QED.
Why do you attend college? To study, get an education – or to indulge in sloganeering? I too have been to college, and never did anything of the sort. Why are politics allowed within the colleges is not the point; what the hell are students doing is the point. I dont buy the nonsense of student activism; students are meant to study, play and get skilled for the nation – not indulge in politics, in my humble opinion
It is for this reason I have a total lack of connect with any students who indulge in this nonsense on any side of the debate. Sorry. Our parents dont send us to college, sacrificing sweat, blood and toil for us to scream slogans against real or imagined injustices. Not done. Period; Try doing politics in your offices, and see how long you survive! Open Challenge!
Was there over-reaction? Maybe. Were they guilty? No idea; on balance – unlikely, but am no expert. Did they deserve the public thrashing? Obviously, no. That does NOT absolve them in my mind in soiling the halloed place of learning we should rightly be calling a Gurukul, a place where we should be on our knees in front of The Goddess Saraswati {for Sanaatanis} … and giving our thanks for giving us this opportunity that was not given to more than 70% other Indians!
My views may not be shared by you; fine by me. But to me a place of learning isnt a bloody political battlefield, but a place next only to a Temple, a place of dedication and worship no less than a Temple. As a matter of fact, to quote my friend and senior Amitabh Sinha, Vishal, if you’re a Sanatani – as you claim you are – you know that a temple is anywhere where the Sanatani performs his karm pooja. So when you say the University is ‘next only to a temple’ I’m afraid you make a mistake. A University IS a temple for it is here where the teacher and the taught both offer their karm pooja. Is this the way to behave in a temple? Othermay have their views, but this doesn’t fit in mine. Go ahead, Call me an idealist…
{For the record : Me and Amit Sir have our differences of opinion, and the above quote is part of a much longer argument or discussion, with all its varied mutual disagreements}
We scream blue murder just on the question of flying the beloved Tricolor above our universities! The thankless people who go away, after feasting on scarce tax-payers money, scarce seats : where are they from? The UNIVERSITIES. What value and moral education is imparted? Lessons on patriotism, and the sacrifices people have done so that these students can study? This isnt taught – and that is fine. So, by corollary, how can politics be acceptable? First introduce value education, nation concepts as a part of the curricula, and THEN think of politics.
Sure politics has a place in every feature in life; but not active politics. Therein lies the difference. At best, places of learning can be places where opinions are formed, to be expressed later in more mature fora; but wasting the time of your Guru, your teachers, the nation, your parents is not done. Can you hold such enclaves in the workplace? Why not? Then how is something not allowed in the office be allowed in the Temple of Education? We cant have double standards!
Would the Army allow such sloganeering? Why not? Would Infosys? Brittannia? Nestle? Hero? Parle? TCS? TISCO? Tata Steel? Godrej? Bajaj? Reliance Group? Cello?  What’s good for the goose should be good for the gander. As it isnt allowed, obviously there is some very practical reason for it: call it what you will. What are we doing in places of education indulging in something that 95+% of the time will have zero positive career impetus, and will in fact, as has proven to be the case, become a major career hindrance?

I can only indulge in a fervent and innocent hope that this incident is a one-off, does not represent the trend in our colleges and Universities, that 95%+ of our educational institutions are actually free from political interference in a major way at least insofar as performance of the core function of imparting knowledge to students is concerned… it may be an idealist hope, sound far-fetched… but then, optimists and realists have never changed the world…

Life, And Death… The Unending Circle

Published January 17, 2016 by vishalvkale

Life, And Death… The Unending Circle
Another year… Another Month… and Another Day… Yet another tragedy strikes close to me and my family, leaving us behind…leaving my mind in a turmoil, with questions and observations crashing through my mind as I attempt to come to terms with the larger questions relating to the purpose of life, and the smaller questions of my response both to the path of life as well as my response to such seminally tragic events…
As of now, as before, when tragedy has struck and me & my family are in mourning, the one thought that literally flashes through my mind, crashes into my consciousness is the same thought I had on my Dad’s funeral pyre 9 years ago… at the end, the only thing that remains is a person’s thoughts, nature, words, and relationships with people…
Nothing matters; the worldly possessions we run after so mindlessly will pass on to some other owner, nothing remains that you or your memory can call yours. The house will be transferred to some other name; the shirts, pants will be donated to some needy; the TV will be seen by someone else; the car will have a new driver behind the wheel; the bank balance and investments will be bequeathed to someone else… and so on and so forth…
The world will cry a little or a lot – or not at all, depending on how close people were to you {that is critical}; those who cry will do so for 2 days, maybe three – or maybe longer. The only person who will retain your memory lifelong is your spouse – and if you are exceptionally lucky {and good}… your children. That is it. Life stops for not a moment after you pass away; not one moment. Mouths will need to be fed; children need to go to school; and so on and so forth. Nothing stops – not even your closest family, and that is a hard fact.
WHAT REMAINS AFTER US?
The one realisation that has come to me is that what remains after you is only the good deeds you have done; the happiness that you have spread; the pleasure you have given; your words & your memories, which people cherish in those rare special moments when the past comes back to mind; nothing else matters. The only other thing that matters is your Children : if you manage to give them a good education and upbringing – they will carry this and thank you their entire life.
And yet, paradoxically, we spend our entire adult lives pursuing worldly items  and possessions to the exclusion of the only things that will actually remain ours; the only things we will carry with us to the heavenly abode. I myself, who am penning these rather grandiose terms, am not too different in this regard.
WHY? A PRACTICAL LOOK…
It can be argued that each individual has desires and ambitions, and culling and curbing your desires and ambitions is not exactly the right thing to do; that it is my right to do as I please, as I am on this earth to live. Granted. But does the  pursuit of our individual goals and desires mean we forget the items listed above? Cant we try and do both?
Nothing on this planet is free of charge : you will need money to live, to feed yourself and your family. And it is further granted that food alone is not enough; you will need money for giving your family a good life, you owe them that. That is beyond argument; I am not advocating becoming a hermit, or proposing / recommending simple living – high thinking philosophy. And, truth be told, less than 1% of people will take freebies; it feels great to achieve something – and this sense of achievement rubs off on your loved ones and your family as well.
Thus, the daily grind of life really does need to be gone through-  frankly, you yourself wouldn’t have it any other way. But the question remains : if after I am gone – my worldly possessions wont remain mine; that only my deeds, my words, my emotions, my memories will remain truly mine : then what is the purpose of it all? And furthermore, this question leads to what I regard to tbe the keystone question, the vital question : what is really important – or what is the relative importance of each aspect of your life?
KNOWING I, ME, MYSELF
I found, during my 9-year journey on these questions which first assaulted me on my Dad’s funeral pyre, that you cannot answer these questions without answering who am I? For, when you attempt to settle and answer the questions above, all rationalisations of the real world fall by the wayside – and you are left naked, confronted with yourself : and your real priorities, devoid of anxieties, worries, desires and ambitions. What would you want to be known for and remembered as? The answer to that questions is a reflection of your true self, in my opinion…
The past 9 years have also revealed something else – these questions and their answers remain carved into stone; independent of the real world around you, and the challenges and tasks it demands of you. It matters nought if you are on a high note in your life – or if you are in a struggling phase. The questions, and their answers, remain as they were. They are resolute & unchanging…
Through good times and bad, the tiny voice inside you remains, always telling you wher e you are going wrong, or what your real priorities are. The difficulty, as I have experienced as well as am experiencing, is in isolating that tiny voice, that original voice from the other voices that emanate not from you, but from your desires & ambitions, experiences, successes and failures. I have not yet succeeded in overcoming the pull of these stronger pressures, and learning to listen to the real me that resides somewhere deep inside me, the me that is telling my mind and body what is right and what I should be doing…
The key seems to be isolating the desires and ambitions driven voices that originate from the passions, and my life goals and experiences – from that small invisible me. I am not my desires; my desires emanate from my real world needs and experiences, and are strictly external to me as an individual. My life goals – even they are not me, for the perfectly simple reason that these- all of them – have external dependencies, so they cannot be the real me.
Who, then, am I? Answer : as of now, I don’t know. While the real world desires and ambitions are important, for I am a constituent of my society, and need to fulfil my role; they are not me. That much I am sure of. I do know that my body cannot be me : for it will one day return to its real owner – the earth. My body cannot be me for after people die – they do live on in memories, and their good deeds. My body cannot be me, for the simple reason that through pain and joy, a part of me remains untouched, and above all.
Who, then, am I? My hunt continues… 

Being Indian 2 : The Line Of Citizenship

Published July 6, 2015 by vishalvkale

In the previous article, the theme was of inclusiveness and openness in the internal and external context, and how India has always been a land where everyone has found a home. In that article, I emphasized a differential approach, recommending a differentiation between us and the rest of the World; wherein I advocated being closed in the external cultural sphere, while being completely open in the internal cultural milieu.
I am saying be open; I am also saying be closed. One can be both at the same time. How do you define being open? Open to all – to what extent? There has to be a line. I draw that line – Black, Thick and Hard: The Line Of Citizenship. Externally, on politics and economics, I am defensive; true – but that is because the situation dictates defensiveness, – but more of that later in the series. Externally, on culture : I am completely open, and for the reasons listed out in at least 17 full articles, maybe several more. {http://reflectionsvvk.blogspot.in/search?q=culture}
I state this because of our increasing penchant of idolizing and highlighting the achievements of Sanaatan Dharm followers the world over, as well as People Of Indian Origin; innumerable news articles and oodles of Media space and time is devoted to these aliens. For that is what these people are : Aliens. Had these people loved India, or looked upon India as a home, they would not have left permanently. The act of surrendering citizenship is indicative of their attitudes, their opinions and their priorities.
I don’t grudge them their choices; why should I? Just the same as they don’t have the right to intervene in my nation, or indeed my individual choices, I don’t have the right to intervene in what is essentially their individual choice. They may have been Indians at some point in time, now they aren’t – period. Now they are as alien to me as a Britisher, a Portuguese, A South African, or an Australian. The choice to cut the umbilical chord has created a divide that cannot be bridged…

Internally, I am stating complete openness, inclusiveness and confidence;. I am also emphasising unity, just the same as anyone else; I am only demarcating a line dictated by the world we live in. By drawing this line, I am clearly stating, that first we need to sort out our own problems before we set out to include the world… otherwise where is the difference between us and the West? They pontificate to everyone forgetting their own internal fissures. Remember the recent past in the USA?


By drawing this line, I am actually supporting universality and openness, since I am in effect saying that I can accept you as you are; we can live together. I will not dictate how to live to you; let us have a symbiotic relationship for mutual economic benefit given your past links to India. That, I think, exhudes confidence, practicality, and a rock-hard constitution. And an eminently workable, although exceptionally tough a path to walk. It also sets a red line : the relationship is mutual economic benefit – meaning you don’t have the right to intervene in our affairs- you are not repeat not an Indian Citizen anymore,
I find this amazing penchant of ours to highlight any headway in Sanaatani and NRI developments abroad to be both intrusive as well as strange; equally, this irritating penchant to not highlight achievements of Indians in India. Why should that be so? Why cant we highlight the achievements and success stories of the countless Indians who make it in India, who study and choose to stay in India? Why should I care if someone – even an NRI – achieves something abroad? The value that person is adding is to an alien society! Cant we think of Indian achievements – and there are hundred to go around?
It is this defensive behavior that manifests itself time and again : indicating that we have not gotten over our inferiority complexes regarding Western Culture, and its supposed superiority, which is a highly debatable and in some ways incorrect assumption, basis hard documented facts of the ugly side of their culture, just the same as every culture has bad points, including ours! Why should we, as a nation, care that some former Indian, who left India, made it big elsewhere? We should actually be devoting that time and space to Indians. If at all non-Indians, then focus on outsiders who came to India!
We have been here for 9000 years. We have seen the rise of empires; we have seen them fall and get razed to the dust. We have seen people lose their identities, their culture and get subsumed – of which there are even Modern Examples aplenty; we have seen cultures crumble; we have seen cultures and nations get destroyed by invaders -we have seen it all. And throughout this, we have remained unchanged.


We have seen the rise of might, and we have seen its crashing fall to the nadir of non-relevance. We have seen, felt and suffered the arrogance and the exuberance of might, and we are now seeing its whimper as it crumbles to dust, in the time-tested nature of this lovely existence. And through it all, we have been resolute, withstanding the strong gale-winds of forced change rip through our land and our people…


And yet, despite the force of the change, despite the insidious internal interactions wrecked upon our culture by the internal interaction with alien cultures, our culture has withstood it and stands tall and hard, as hard as it ever was. Indeed, instead of uprooting the old, what we are seeing is a repetition of the past, as this Holy Land choreographs its magic once again, assimilating the good from the other culture, eradicating the ills in the home culture, and further strengthening the bonds of the mother culture.


We have done it several times in the past; most recently in our interaction with the Arab World, where we assimilated the new culture effortlessly into our own until the sceptre of Western Interference tore apart the foundation of the adjustment before it could get cemented into stone. The manifest failure of Western Style Universalism and Culture to respect, accept, honour and integrate itself with Indian Culture is a clear failure of the Western Concepts, as on our side we have, yet again, managed to integrate the alien culture into our own culture. 
In doing so, churn has happened, tearing apart adjustments, understandings, bringing past deeds to the fore, destroying equilibrium, enhancing both perceived and real ills from a portion of the past and suppressing real ills of the immediate past, curdling perspective, and stoking sectarianism. Never has our culture faced such a brutal assault as it faced during 1757-1947, and yet it stood tall and resolute. As I observed in my previous articles, it drove a schism into our society and alienated a part of our heart from us.


And yet, despite the strongest and most vicious attack on our being, our soul and body, our Holy Land ensured that we withstood it. Sure, this has created several current and felt problems, but we are sorting them out in our own time-honoured traditions. Sure, it has created, or further enhanced, or exacerbate some social evils: but at the same time it has absorbed the good points from the attacking culture, effortlessly and seamlessly integrated them into our own cultural fabric for our own benefit.

Such is our Holy Land. And that is something special : very special indeed.
I would respectfully submit to all Indian readers here : please trust your mother a little bit more; as a people, she hasnt failed us yet. Maa to phir Maa hi reheti hai. Please have more pride and confidence in your Mom : and the blood that flows through our veins. {And if you do have the trust, forgive these words, please!}  Khoon Apnaa Rang Dikhaa Kar Rahegaa; Mehendi Toh Mehendi Hai Rang Laayegi! We have always been open, welcoming, non-judgemental, and progressive. A slide from that led to disaster, as history bears mute testimony. Let us not forget the lessons of history. But, at the same time, as I said, Khoon Apnaa Rang Dikhaa Kar Rahegaa; Mehendi Toh Mehendi Hai Rang Laayegi!

Let us look around and try and see myriad examples of positive impetus to Indian Values that can be seen everywhere we turn around and look; the rising small wave of a backlash is now evident in my reading, across the land in every aspect from tolerance to culture. In its worst form, it takes the shape of the extreme reactions like the furore over  of Valentine’s Day. These reactions, though extreme, are completely in line with the expected reactions that are bound to happen as cultures collide. How anyone expects anything else is beyond me.


Rather than cry foul over these reactions, we should welcome them; they are a sign that all is not lost; they are a sign that the Indian is beginning to re-assert. The need of the hour is not condemnation of such reactionary forces- this will only feed the fire; the need of the hour is toning down their reactions, being mature, and working around them. This is the theme of the third article; our contemporary problems arising out of our past, and our current response