Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Inequality – that’s on my mind since last few days. Every time I remember the villages that I recently visited where there is no electricity and then walk on the streets of Nariman Point with big neon lights, I am reminded of this inequality!!

Every time I open the tap to use the water or pay money & buy water, I am reminded of how people in the villages have to walk to fetch water!

Everytime I take a rickshaw or a taxi to cover a distance of couple of kms, I am reminded of children who have to walk this much to go to school. Every time I order food at a restaurant or buy vegetables from the market, I am reminded of farmer’s everyday struggle & how some of them succumb to it my committing suicides.

YES!! The inequality personifies and hits really hard on my face and goes deep within through my veins!!

And it makes me question, WHEN WILL WE WAKE UP??

Will we talk/act when we will have electricity less than 4 hours a day with mostly no electricity in the night?

Will we talk/act when our taps will no longer give water?

Will we talk when the shopping malls will have no vegetables to sell to us?

Will we talk when our kids will have no school to go to inspite of us having all the money in the world to pay for it?

OR We are waiting for something really bad to happen, to all of us, to humanity, which will make us realize the value of fellow human beings, make us look at them beyond status, appearance, caste, gender, creed, to make us realize that it doesn’t require lot of money to be compassionate & empathetic, to take out some time out of our race to win the battle of life for someone who has lost all the hopes before event the race has begun!!!

I think we as a society has gone passed the stage where a revolution can save us. For in a revolution, there is a leader, who leads a social change & there are followers who execute it!!

What we need is an individual rebellion, a rebellion which leads to inner transformation, awakening of conscious, awakening that human inside a business man, a doctor, an engineer, a student to an awareness which raises questions…


Sunday, July 22, 2012


When I was a kid, it was so easy to cry…the tears would just roll down without any inhibitions

Then came a point when they became my only support, my true resort to relieve myself from pain, but they would only come when I was alone, they refuse to come when I was in crowd, but I loved them and I never stopped them.

As I grew up, I started distancing myself from them, thinking they are the sign of weakness, they are the sign of resignation…I wanted to be strong, so instead of crying I started telling myself – Its okay!!

But  I miss my tears now, miss the freedom that I experienced with every tear drop releasing from my eyes and I can see how they missed me too!!

And I am happy that they are back, slowly regaining the ease and the comfort they enjoyed as they rolled down from my cheeks…cleansing my vision and helping me smile again!!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Random Act of Kindness: Smile :-)

Couple of days ago, I was walking my way back after my usual fruits and vegetable shopping. While walking, I thought of taking rickshaw but then said to myself that it’s such a short distance and I should walk it. As I was walking I saw an elderly lady walking ahead of me. She must be in her fifties. From the way she was walking, I could make out that the bags she was carrying were quite heavy. I walked upto her and told her to let me carry her bag. At first she was shocked and asked WHY? I smiled and said because I can see that’s its heavy. I asked and she refused again said, this time a little surprise then shocked. I smiled a little more and said don’t worry, I won’t run away with your bag, let me carry it till the time we walk the same path. She smiled and gave me one of her bag.

We walked till the entrance of her complex and as we walked she continued smiling, more and more J

After I dropped her, I realized how she helped me walk through the road which I thought I did not wanted to take and almost made me forget the weight that I was carrying.

It’s bliss to have such an experience!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Paliya – What I saw and what I felt …Beliefs reinforced and shaken

On the evening of the inauguration ceremony of Gramya Manthan, while on our way to the campus we were told about the cause and the village on which we will be working on for the next few days and perhaps years. I was being allotted the Village Paliya and a cause of agriculture. Both at that time fairly unknown to me and hence I was doubly excited about it!
Paliya  - Bilhaur, Uttar Pradesh
Next day morning was to be a big one; as it was the first time we were to visit the villages. Initial motivational talks by Elango Sir and Sanjiv Bhaiya followed by brief pep talks in the teams and we finally entered the village! We entered the Choti Paliya, started a conversation with a Potter and few kids around him. We also visited few other houses in Choti Paliya. But 
I think it wasn’t till I entered the Badi Paliya that I was truly experiencing the moment. I think my mind was too clouded on how to talk, what to ask, what not to while I was in Choti Paliya but that small road leading to Badi Paliya cleared all these inhibitions!

The first person I saw when I entered Badi Paliya was a young girl, about 8-9yrs old. A girl with round face and big eyes and a smile to die for - Anshu!! She became my first friend in the village. And from that moment, everything became very natural. My interactions, my emotions, my smiles and even my concerns.

There is something about that girl. In here I saw hope and faith. For next 3 days, she followed me almost like a shadow, everywhere I would go. From the following day, even other children from the village joined her and me. You know it may sound and seem that walking in the village along with children is for fun or to spend time with them but to me it was much more than that!! With every step we took together, my belief in them, in me and in goodness was getting reinforced.

The first day of our visit was very general and we interacted with many families to gauge the situation. The second day was when we had to spend a day with a family and I spent the day with Harishchandra Bhaiya’s family. If there is one thing I did the most that day, it was to laugh!! The family had three girls and I was amazed at how they managed to laugh at everything…they even laughed out the electricity problem the village is facing.

Well, although I appreciated their spirit because only with that spirit can you walk upto the hand pump 300mts away from your house 30-40 times a day to fetch water but somewhere I could see there was so much potential that was getting wasted. It was the story of so many young girls in the village, all educated but lack of proper guidance and opportunities makes them spend every afternoon in sleeping or in spending time gossiping.

I must say while in the city, I did not expect the education level of girls to be so high in the village. In this case I was really happy that my belief was shaken and reformed J

I was also not happy seeing how the Bhabhi (Harishchandraji’s wife) was treated. There was absolutely no time when she left her kitchen and a small room. Yet, the smile on her face was so warm J And she cooked the best food, specially the mango daal :-)

After spending 3.5-4 days in the village

-  - I saw how the cycle of oppression and exploitation percolates. The Land owners get exploited by the middlemen and landless gets exploited by the landowners.

I also realized that the subjectivity of the problem changes as you see it from different stakeholder’s perspective. For E.g – Every person we spoke to in the village said water is a big problem. When I stayed at Harishchandraji’s house, I saw how due to the fact that they had the hand pump in their front yard they were using water so liberally that I was surprised. But against that, for a population of almost 500 people on the harijan’s side, there are only two hand pumps!

The cycle of lack of equal opportunities also continues!

More and more of rural India which is created due to inequality, is breeding inequality within itself!

- - I did not see any visible poverty in the village. You don’t really see children dying out of hunger but you do see children walking, running bare feet under the scorching sun….walking more than 2kms in between fields to reach the school, the building which only has bricks which are not even cemented and a school which is run by only one Master. Forget about the library, the extracurricular activities, and the sports! I think that was one of the reason why when I opened the story books and coloring books, all of them were engrossed in the world of colors and fantasies and when we used to play games in the evening, the entire village celebrated with the children.

-  - The men really work hard on the fields but I could see how they were trapped in the cycle of ignorance and exploitation. In spite of Agriculture being the primary livelihood, I realized how there is so little of creativity or innovation left in it. After speaking to few of the farmers, I saw how they see Agriculture, for them it’s a struggle, an everyday battle. Something that they are doing due to lack of choice. I spoke to an old man who has lived all his life in that village; he must be in his late 60s. He said he is seeing the plight of farmers and agriculture worsening, year after year! I did not meet even a single farmer who was happy doing what he is doing! I fear if it continues like this, we will soon be an agrarian economy with no farmers!

-  - Although the men work really hard on fields, there is still a huge potential to work on them to make their minds open, to new things, to change. Currently I see resignation and acceptance in their attitude.

- -I realized that we cannot really work on Agriculture, leaving aside Energy or water or Education. They are so deeply connected. I also realized importance of breaking down the problem to understand the root of the problem which needs to be addressed.

-  - Also, bringing in the change in the attitude, mindset will take time but it’s what is sustainable and hence just getting technology will not answer the problem.

-  - We need to be patient and humble. It is going to take time and we need to be okay with it. Our ambition of creating change should not overpower our sensitivity.

-  - I see the community unity as both the potential as well as a challenge.

-  - Children and youth can really lead the change wagon. There is hope and potential.

In all this, I see the biggest challenge lies within me. Over next few years as I commit myself for the development of the village, I tread a path of inner transformation. At every moment I get an opportunity to be more alert and aware of my biases, my beliefs, by values as they define my actions…actions that will have direct implication on people there. There is a fear of getting carried away, fear of forming notions, assumptions.

But with all this, I do see myself ready for this journey!

“The seeker embarks on a journey to find what he wants and discovers, along the way, what he needs.”   Wally Lamb, The Hour I First Believed